Look at this amazing cover! I love how the picture turned out and fits the dark mood of the book. Sadly, it is the best part about it, I really couldn’t get into the story, and ended up disappointed. I had high hopes as I had really enjoyed Emily Lloyd-Jones’ first book, The Hearts We Sold. So without further ado, here’s my review.
PUBLICATION DATE: 24/09/2019
STAR RATING: 3/5 ✶
SUMMARY: Ryn is a grave digger. In her village, that comes with additional responsibilities: The so-called bone houses (aka zombies) rise in the nearby forest and need to be taken apart and burned. But they have begun coming out from between the trees and attacking the village. When Ellis, a mapmaker, arrives, they set out together to try and solve the mystery behind the bone houses.
OPINIONS: I started writing this review ages ago, and I keep pushing it out further and further, and I think it’s because the more I think about this book, the more annoyed I get. I really wanted to love it, as it sounds dark and morbid, and the cover makes it look like it’s right up my alley, but then, the execution is just …your standard YA fairy tale, and nothing about it was surprising. And now it’s the featured book for September in my favourite book crate (where it’s part of an AMAZING theme and what sounds like a great box) and I have to skip it because of this silly book, which doesn’t help my opinion of it any.
I’m not saying it’s bad. Not at all. I’m saying it’s not for me. If you’re me approximately 5 years ago (so, about 1000 fantasy books ago), you’d probably like it. A lot. All the elements for a good read are present, and there’s even comic relief in form of an undead goat. Even present-me loved the undead goat. The undead goat is great. For me, it just ended up being one of those books I had seemingly read a hundred times before. Maybe I was more critical because I read it in the wake of some of the best books I read this year, such as Gideon the Ninth, Magic for Liars or Serpent and Dove, all of whom are proudly unique.
As some of you might know, I was originally trained as a medievalist, and while the Vikings themselves don’t actually classify as medieval, they interfere with the British and Irish medieval societies I worked on, and I’ve always had a soft spot for them. Probably doesn’t hurt either that the modern Viking aesthetic is basically my sexuality in a nutshell. Give me long-haired beardy dudes or badass warrior babes any day.
So of course I jumped at the opportunity to read and review an early copy of The Girl the Sea Gave Back for TitanBooks! Many thanks to the publisher, and especially Sarah Mather for sending this my way. I had enjoyed Adrienne’s debut, Sky in the Deep last year, but loved this one on a whole other level!
PUBLICATION DATE: 03/09/2019
STAR RATING: 4.5/5 ✶
SUMMARY: Told from the dual point of view of Tova and Halvard, both at the forefront of conflicting clans, this is a haunting tale about identity, belonging and coming of age in a Viking-inspired setting.
OPINIONS: One of the things I appreciated most about The Girl the Sea Gave Back was that it showcases Adrienne’s development as a writer. In no way am I complaining about Sky in the Deep, but this is just more in every way. It is a wonderful book, with a thrilling story, fascinating characters and a thought-through world. A detail that I don’t think I’ve seen elsewhere before, and which I think is a stroke of genius, is that when the point of view changes within the same location, there is a slight overlap, meaning that the last action described is described again from where the other person sees the action, which really helps with immersion. With rapid PoV changes, readers often get lost, and this prevents that.
Both Tova and Halvard have great character arcs, developing from the teenagers they are at the start of the story into the young adults they need to be by the end of it. They take on responsibility and grow, and it is beautiful to watch them. I’m not going into more detail here, so you will just have to read the book to see what I mean. I also loved Tova’s portrayal as a Truthtongue (which is basically in the blurb, so no spoiler here), and the problematic position this puts her in, as this opens the big can of worms: What happens when the predicted future is not the desired future? How do the powers that be deal with such situations? How does the soothsayer act?
I really enjoyed The Girl the Sea Gave Back, and I hope you will too! This was one of the books I could barely put down and kept thinking about, and will definitely keep recommending to people. While it can get dark at times, the sentiment of hope prevails throughout, which is just what I needed after a difficult couple of months.