Earlier this year I got to read Sky in the Deep which I reviewed here. As you can see I was a fan so I jumped at the chance to read the companion novel The Girl the Sea Gave Back.
I also got to meet Adrienne at YALC this year. She was lovely and I got both my books signed.
The Girl the Sea Gave Back is set in the same world ten years later With familiar characters grown and new characters joining them to threaten the peace if you enjoyed Sky in the Deep dive in without hesitation.
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 run 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 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.
Huge shout out to the cover designer for another stunning book.
ADRIENNE YOUNG is a born and bred Texan turned California girl. She is a foodie with a deep love of history and travel and a shameless addiction to coffee.
What I Thought
It’s always interesting to see what happens after a happily ever after. War is over – or is it? The world was one of the things I loved most about the first book with it being something fresh. The almost simplicity of its brutality with fighting being about survival gives rise to an ability to truly focus on the characters and their relationships. The quiet moments in contrast to war is a theme that is further explored here.
Companion novels are funny beasts especially when you’ve grown so invested in the main characters of the first book to have them not be the main focus. Like meeting new friends in real life, you don’t forget what or who has come before but assimilate them into your world. Fiske and Eelyn from Sky in the Deep do appear and Halvard we met as a young boy. Tova and her community are new to us and the additional aspect of her being an outcast within her own tribe meant there was a twist on this not being a straight replay of the first book.
Universality in young adult stories in providing commentary relevant to our current world is what brings me back to books aimed at teens. Age is but a number and any fantasy fans should enjoy this. As long as you like a side of romance.
I also love it when you know how the book gets its title and in the Prologue we get the answer straight away. The question we are left with is why?
I’m not sure if there will be more stories told in this world but I am enough of a fan of Adrienne’s writing to follow her back or forth to new worlds.
Do check out the rest of the tour stops.
Thank you to Titan for my gifted copy of the book for the purposes of an honest review.
England 1648. A dangerous time for a woman to be different . . .
Midsummer’s Eve, 1648, and England is in the grip of civil war between renegade King and rebellious Parliament. The struggle reaches every corner of the kingdom, even to the remote Tidelands – the marshy landscape of the south coast.
Alinor, a descendant of wise women, crushed by poverty and superstition, waits in the graveyard under the full moon for a ghost who will declare her free from her abusive husband. Instead she meets James, a young man on the run, and shows him the secret ways across the treacherous marsh, not knowing that she is leading disaster into the heart of her life.
Suspected of possessing dark secrets in superstitious times, Alinor’s ambition and determination mark her out from her neighbours. This is the time of witch-mania, and Alinor, a woman without a husband, skilled with herbs, suddenly enriched, arouses envy in her rivals and fear among the villagers, who are ready to take lethal action into their own hands.
Philippa Gregory is the author of many bestselling novels, including The Other Boleyn Girl, and is a recognised authority on women’s history.
Her Cousins’ War novels, reaching their dramatic conclusion with The King’s Curse, were the basis for the highly successful BBC series, The White Queen.
Philippa graduated from the University of Sussex and holds a PhD and Alumna of the Year 2009 at Edinburgh University. In 2016, she received the Harrogate Festival Award for Outstanding Contribution to Historical Fiction. Philippa lives with her family on a small farm in Yorkshire and welcomes visitors to her website, PhilippaGregory.com.
What I Thought
I don’t read a lot of historical fiction but even I am familiar with Philippa Gregory, despite never having read her work before. The Tidelands is a new series, set during a period where life could be dangerous for women who were walking a fine line between healing and what could be seen as witchcraft. Having recently read and enjoyed The Familiars by Stacey Halls I thought this would be a great introduction.
With echoes of Great Expectations the Tidelands of the title are very much a character in their own right. Foreboding and isolating, the arrival of a newcomer brings with it the intrusion of the outside world where King Charles is at war with Parliament.
A slow burning romance allows us time to get to know our main characters. Alinor, her daughter Alys and son Rob and James, the outsider, who rocks his world and theirs.
Phillippa is a master at the everyday, at representing what it might have been like to live during that time. My nearest comparison, not having read much of this genre is Catherine Cookson’s The Dwelling Place. Another book I enjoyed. Tidelands is a book with a character driven plot and historically accurate peril; the threat of being labelled a witch lingers throughout the book. I enjoyed the slower pace and the focus on women’s stories. I’ll definitely be continuing with the series and checking out some of her earlier work.
What’s your favourite Philippa Gregory novel?
Thanks to @darkroomtours and @simonschusteruk for the #gifted copy for the purposes of this honest review. #Tidelands #DarkroomTours #PhilippaGregory #historicalfiction #witchcraft #bookstagram
You make me feel like there’s something good in the world I can hold on to,’ Aaron says. He kisses me again, draws me so close it’s almost hard to breathe. ‘I love you, Gem. And I promise I’ll hold your heart forever.’
When Gemma meets Aaron, she feels truly seen for the first time. Their love story is the intense kind. The written-in-the-stars, excluding-all-others kind. The kind you write songs about.
But little by little their relationship takes over Gemma’s life. What happens when being seen becomes being watched, and care becomes control?
Told in both Gemma’s and Aaron’s words, this is a raw, moving exploration of gaslighting in teenage relationships that skewers our ideas of what love looks like.
Karen Gregory has been a confirmed bookworm since early childhood. She wrote her first story about Bantra the mouse aged twelve, then put away the word processor until her first child was born, when she was overtaken by the urge to write. Her first novel, Countless, published in 2017, was shortlisted for the Leeds Book Award and longlisted for the Branford Boase. Her second novel, Skylarks, was published in 2018. Karen lives in Wiltshire with her family.
What I Thought
This starts out like a love at first sight teen romance, where main character Gemma gets swept away by the enigmatic Aaron. As do we to a certain extent, despite knowing that something is going to go wrong.
Gemma is overshadowed at home by her football playing younger brother Michael and Aaron sees this – and her.
With beach picnics and expensive gifts Gemma falls deeper and despite friends concerns she fails to see the warning signs. And that’s because they are so subtle at first. Things that are easily dismissed or put down to coincidence.
This is an interesting look at gaslighting in a relationship, made even more complex by the addition of Aaron’s point of view, one that doesn’t immediately portray neon flashing lights but indicates that something has gone wrong in a past relationship.
The author makes it clear in a postscript that having his point of view included doesn’t excuse any behaviour but it helps the reader explore the psychology of the phenomenon from both sides.
I loved the inclusion of Gemma’s family dynamic and it was intriguing how particularly her parents relationship set some foundations for certain behaviours to be seen as normal. That’s what is very tricky with emotional abuse in particular, in most relationships – even with friends – things are said that can be hurtful or occasionally manipulative, when does it become abuse?
Set in college we see how important friendships are to teenagers in navigating their transition between child and adulthood. Gemma’s great love is country music and songwriting and her changing relationships with her family, friends and activities are powerful indicators of what is happening. In isolation her relationship with Aaron can definitely be seen as romantic, but in the wider context the cracks show.
All in all this is a very powerful read that reminded me of You by Caroline Kepnes. Trigger warnings for emotional, physical and sexual abuse.
Do check out what the other reviewers on the tour thought.
Thank you to Faye Rogers and Bloomsbury for the gifted copy for the purposes of this honest review.