Hello lovelies! Today, I’m reviewing The Girl The Sea Gave Back which was very kindly sent to me by Titan Books! I’m sad to say that I had a few issues with this one 😦 Read on to find out exactly what they were!
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 really liked how Adrienne Young chose to open The Girl The Sea Gave Back. Having not read Sky in the Deep, I was interested to see how the author would set up her world – and when I started reading, I was pleased by it. I felt immediately drawn into the Norse setting. The author was also able to elicit emotion from me towards the characters, even though I didn’t yet know much about them.
Unfortunately, any connection I felt with the characters did not last. The two narrative voices were not very distinctive in tone and I would sometimes have to check who was speaking. I never really felt any great investment in either of the two perspectives; there was just a flatness to every character.
The dual perspective also made things feel quite repetitive. Often, the author would relay scenes from both points of view but this didn’t really add anything to my enjoyment or understanding of what was taking place.
I’m struggling to voice my opinions on the world building. It was good, in the sense that the Norse connections were really well developed. I loved all the mentions of gods and goddesses. However, I will admit that I found it difficult to get to grips with all the Norse words and names. There was no pronunciation guide in the book and I found myself tripping over words on almost every page. While I appreciated the realness that these details added to the story, I found that I was having to concentrate really hard and I think that’s part of why I couldn’t connect with the characters.
If I’m being totally honest, this book read like a debut to me. It was very action-heavy and also overflowing with awkward clunky sentences and repeated words. It just didn’t feel as polished as I would have liked. I would be interested to compare the writing with Young’s first book, Sky in the Deep, to see if the editing was any better in that instance.
Overall, I don’t regret reading this book but it’s certainly not a new favourite. The whole thing had a sense of bleakness to it; I’m not sure what it was but I just felt quite hopeless when reading it. Maybe that’s what the author was going for? In which case, it was a success. However, I have seen other reviewers commenting that Young had a very difficult time writing this book; I don’t know where they sourced this information to check it out for myself but if it’s true, Young’s emotions have definitely bled into her writing.
I wouldn’t jump to recommend this one but you might enjoy it if you’re a fan of the author’s first book. It didn’t quite work for me but I haven’t written this author off just yet as I feel like there is some potential there.
Have you read this one? Or Sky in the Deep? I’d be really interested to know your thoughts if you have! x