Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Published by Wednesday Books (4.24.2018)
eARC, 352 pages
Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient, rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.
Faced with her brother's betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.
She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.
Honor above life.
This book is dark. Gritty. Violent. But it felt raw and realistic, and was heartbreakingly beautiful! What a kickass viking fantasy! I had zero problem picturing everything in my head as it was happening. Young’s stunning prose brought the world and characters to life. It was cinematic!
The characters were compelling and real. The characterization of this book is phenomenal. Even the side characters were important. I found myself attached to each and every one of them! The sense of family and loyalty in this story was strong and downright beautiful. I was blown away by how invested I was in each and every character in this book.
“She’s got fire in her blood.”
Eelyn was a badass! She cried, a lot, but it never seemed whiny or annoying. She was a strong character – full of fire and steel. No matter how many times she got knocked down, she got back up. She wasn’t afraid to fight until the very end. Her character arc was incredible!
This book is full of feels to the point that certain relationships and meaningful interactions between characters were enough to make my heart ache. It’s so relatable!
As for the romance, I will never get sick of enemies to lovers stories, no matter how cliche it is! And this one was perfect! It took a long time to develop, which is reasonable because they were both raised to hate one another. The hatred between the clans felt palpable. It was deep set, almost sentient.
I have a few minor complaints that keep this book from getting 5 stars. I would have liked to have seen some sacrifice – while I do enjoy a HEA, it seemed unrealistic in comparison to the violence and hardship of the rest of the book. No one really gave anything up in the end. The ending also felt very rushed to me. View Spoiler »The Herja had been built up the entire book as a terrifying demon-like enemy, yet they were defeated in the span of a couple chapters, and with no real loss on the side of the Aska and Riki. There wasn’t really much of a fight at all. Also, the life-long prejudice was surmounted fairly easily and I felt like there wasn’t enough resistance there. While they were distrustful of each other, as soon as they fought side by side they seemed to give up their hatred just like that. Prejudice like that is deep-seated and not so easily overcome. « Hide Spoiler
“We find things, just as we lose things, Eelyn. If you’ve lost your honor, you’ll find it again.”
“I don’t belong to you.”
“Yes you do. Like I belong to you.”
We were warriors. And she was willing to fight for me the way I was willing to fight for her. Nothing would ever change that.
And that was the way of it. Things belonging where they didn’t. Like two night skies on a frozen lake. One looking down from above and one looking up from the deep.
Writing style: 4/5
Overall rating: 4/5