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#AA2019 Nominees Round Up, August 1 Edition

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young, narrated by Khristine Hvam
Audio published by Macmillan Audio
Publication Date: May 1, 2018
ISBN: 9781427296993

Sky in the Deep is a thrilling, Viking-inspired historic fantasy about family, loyalty, acceptance, and triumph of the human spirit. In Adrienne Young’s debut novel, Eelyn and her brother, Iri, belong to the fjord-dwelling Aska clan, where they’ve trained from birth to be warriors. Every five years, their sworn enemy, the Riki, come down from the mountains to fight a sacred battle. Five years before, Eelyn witnessed her beloved brother’s death after he fell into a ravine while fighting a young Riki warrior. But now, at the start of the new fighting season, Eelyn sees Iri on the battlefield, fighting on the side of the enemy. Reeling from his appearance and in denial of his betrayal, Eelyn is captured and enslaved. Living in the land of her enemy, Eelyn is faced with serious questions about the true meaning of loyalty and love. When the Riki and Aska are attacked by a ruthless, legendary clan, Eelyn must decide if “Honor Before Life” is more important than uniting with the Riki to save the home she loves.

One of the most exciting things about this audiobook is the pairing of debut author Adrienne Young with veteran narrator Khristine Hvam. They are a match made in audiophile heaven, creating a world you would want to live in–if it weren’t so dire! It’s hard to believe Sky in the Deep is Young’s first novel. Her ability to weave together gloriously bloody battles and complex character growth is truly impressive. One of my favorite parts is the subtle, slow-burn romance between Eelyn and Fiske.

Regarding the narration, Hvam’s deep, throaty tone matches Eelyn’s fierceness and her growing vulnerability. The large cast of characters and ancient Norse phrases are also expertly executed. In a story this rich and complex, pacing is key. Hvam, unsurprisingly, rises to the challenge. Listening to her performance becomes a cinematic experience.

Sky in the Deep is a stand-alone novel, which will appeal to listeners burned-out by long sagas. It’s historic background, action, and touch of romance remind me of Robin LaFever’s Grave Mercy and Kiersten White’s And I Darken. The violence might be a turn-off for some listeners, but the themes of family, loyalty, and acceptance make Sky in the Deep a triumphant, inspiring story. I loved it so much that I listened to it twice!

–Amy Oelkers
Teen Librarian, Oakdale Library, Oakdale, MN