Title: The Girl the Sea Gave Back
Author: Adrienne Young
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Romance
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication date: September 3rd, 2019
For as long as she can remember, Tova has lived among the Svell, the people who found her washed ashore as a child and use her for her gift as a Truthtongue. Her own home and clan are long-faded memories, but the sacred symbols and staves inked over every inch of her skin mark her as one who can cast the rune stones and see into the future. She has found a fragile place among those who fear her, but when two clans to the east bury their age-old blood feud and join together as one, her world is dangerously close to collapse.
For the first time in generations, the leaders of the Svell are divided. Should they maintain peace or go to war with the allied clans to protect their newfound power? And when their chieftain looks to Tova to cast the stones, she sets into motion a series of events that will not only change the landscape of the mainland forever but will give her something she believed she could never have again—a home.
“I buried my face into the thick linen of her wet tunic and cried. I let every memory come back to me. Every bit of light. Evert bit of darkness. I let them pull at me like the river to the sea. I let them take me home.”
I cannot express how excited I was to pick up this book. Last year I read Adrienne Young’s debut Sky in The Deep and fell absolutely in love with her writing and her way to tell a story, so I went into this one with very high expectations. Though I didn’t love The Girl the Sea Gave Back as much as her previous novel, I still had such a great time and found some elements of this particular story so unique and beautiful.
I had a feeling that The Girl The Sea Gave Back was going to be a slow paced type of book, and boy, I wasn’t wrong. My main issue with the story was that it took me a few chapters to understand who the different tribes were and what was the connection between them, so when I started I was a bit confused with all the information thrown at us. After that, I didn’t mind that it was such a slow and completely character driven story, but I have to say that there were certain times where hardly anything was happening, so I was expecting to see a bit more action sometimes.
However, I absolutely adored the concept of the story, and once we passed the half mark a lot of things started happening and I really enjoyed the path the story was taking. Though I was expecting a much more shocking ending, there were some revelations I didn’t see coming and I enjoyed the few last scenes the most.
“Sometimes it’s the most destructive storm that bring life, Tova. Hagalaz is coming. But I think we will survive it. I think it will make us stronger.”
When it comes to the characters, I had no complains. Since this book was mostly focused on the characters, I must say they were the strongest part of the book. I loved both Tova and Halvard as main characters, and how their stories interconnect and how throughout the story. I feel their evolutions were so well done and in a very realistic way, and not only that but also their dynamics and interactions were quite interesting and different.
Something that I would have loved seeing a bit more in The Girl the Sea Gave Back was the romance element. From what I could understand (or what the author implied) there was going to be a romantic relationship between our two main characters, and they had such a great chemistry, but they hardly interacted throughout the novel, and it was mostly towards the end where we saw more conversations between them, and I just wish they’d had more scenes together, but that was such a personal thing.
I found the mythology aspect so interesting. That was one of the things that I absolutely adored of her debut, and though in this particular one it wasn’t as present as in Sky in The Deep, I liked what I learnt in this book. An element I really enjoyed seeing was rune casting, which was so cool and fresh, so there were things that definitely made the story to me.
Overall, I think The Girl The Sea Gave Back was such a solid story to me. I fell in love with these characters as well, and though the plot and the pacing were pretty slow, I think the characters and their evolution totally redeemed the story and made it flow more easily.
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This doesn’t change my opinion whatsoever. All thoughts are my own.
“What did these warriors know about fate? It was the curling, wild vine that choked out the summer crops. It was the wind that bend wayward currents and damned innocent souls to the deep. They hadn’t seen the stretch of it or the way it could shift suddenly, like a flock of startled birds. Fate’s hand was something they said because they didn’t understand it.”
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