As a child, Tova, a seer tattooed ankles to throat with the “twisting, knotted symbols” of the Kyrr, was found in the sea and taken in by the Svell. Now 18, she serves the clan as a Truthtongue, gleaning the future in her runestones, but since the death of the Svell chieftain’s daughter, which Tova foretold, it’s clear that her days are numbered. After the Svell’s unsanctioned attack on a Nādhir village prompts a tragic confrontation, an all-out war breaks out, and Halvard, next in line to be the Nādhir chieftain, fears that he’s not up to the leadership challenge. Set in the same Viking-influenced world as Young’s Sky in the Deep, the novel weaves intricate battle scenes with narratives that alternate between Halvard and Tova, who seeks the truth about her past. But while Tova and Halvard are compelling and their fates are inexorably entwined, their bond isn’t fully explored. Still, lyrical prose (“The fjord changed the land, rivers weaving like roots down the mountain on the way to the sea”) and an evocative atmosphere elevate Young’s tale of war, identity, and fate. Ages 12–18. Agent: Barbara Poelle, Irene Goodman Literary. (Sept.)
"Gripping and exquisitely written. The Girl the Sea Gave Back tore at my heart strings until I was completely unraveled. Readers will fall in love with this story, whether they are fans of Sky in the Deep or new to Adrienne Young's breathtaking world." - Stephanie Garber, New York Times bestselling author of Caravel
"Eerie and beautiful, The Girl the Sea Gave Back is set in a world so vivid, you can almost touch it. I devoured this story of a lonely, powerful young woman with the ability to change the fate of her world, and the brave young chieftain who must stop her at all costs." - Kristen Ciccarelli, bestselling author of The Last Namsara
"Ignore this omen at your own peril--you will love this book! Perfect for fans of The Last Kingdom, it really immersed me in the Viking world that felt so mystical, complex, and fully formed. From the moment we first meet them, Tova and Halvard unravel the complicated threads of family, fate, and destiny." - A. C. Gaughen, author of Reign the Earth
Gr 8 Up-Young's sophomore novel is a fantasy Bildungsroman with Viking flavor, which takes place a decade after her debut Sky in the Deep. Tova has lived as an outsider for as long as she can remember. Washed ashore as a child with no memory, Tova is rescued by a priest and raised to use her Truthtongue foresight to further the Svell's interests. While Tova can read the future by rolling stones, the Fate Spinner deities have plans for the coming conflict between the Svell and the Nadhir, and even Tova's dire warnings can't keep the violence at bay. The novel is told in alternating perspectives between Tova and Halvard (a character from Sky) as they try to navigate clan politics and escalating bloodshed. The Svell are cast early as the villains. Their abuse of Tova is heavily contrasted to the Nadhir, a new clan founded by two tribes who set aside their blood feud and joined together in peace. Young's writing is beautiful, but readers may find that Tova's reliance on Fate and foretelling push her into predictable actions, leading to repetitive chapters. The novel emphasizes character exploration, with Halvard and Tova also sharing a slow, star-crossed romance that is rushed to its conclusion in the last pages. The book spends much of its time building up to a few short battle scenes where the die has, quite literally, already been cast. VERDICT Purchase where Sky in the Deep is popular, as fans will be excited to watch familiar characters navigate clan politics with war on the horizon.-Emmy Neal, Lake Forest Library, IL
Able to see the future, a tattooed traveler wonders if she can change it.
It's been several years since the long-feuding Riki and Aska clans united to fight the "demon" Herja invaders in Young's debut Sky in the Deep (2018), and the once-bitter enemies have formed unexpected families and friendships. A chief-in-training, 18-year-old Halvard is supposed to lead the newly forged Nādhir in peacetime but instead faces war. Reviled rather than revered by the Svell, Tova—whose tattoos mark her as a Kyrr Truthtongue—predicts the future by reading rune stones and interpreting the Fate Spinners' plans but cannot remember her own past. (Mis)led by violent Vigdis and their Tala's (mis)interpretations of Tova's visions, the ambitious Svell attack the unprepared Nādhir. Soon, battle-untested Halvard races to protect his people while Tova tries to survive the Svell. The forests and fjords suggest a Scandinavian setting, and the weaponry indicates a medieval era. Aside from Tova's seer skills, the tale skews more history than fantasy; tribal gods are worshipped but not witnessed. Battles are described in precise, cinematic detail, as are their terrible consequences, yet resist glorifying violence. Halvard and Tova's world is described as brutal and beautiful—their personal struggles with identity, fate, and community shine against the minimalistic plot and slowly building tension. Even amid violence, the protagonists recognize the humanity of their enemies (or once-enemies, now-allies), and even villains are explored sympathetically.
Often grim, sometimes gory, and occasionally sentimental. (Fantasy. 12-18)