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.
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.
For nearly two hundred years, eight secret societies of Yale University have operated from the shadows – serving the interests of the elite and shaping the course of history.
The Ninth House is tasked with policing them – until the murder of a young woman throws this carefully hidden world of privilege, power and the occult into chaos …
Publishes 1st October 2019
Leigh Bardugo is a No. 1 New York Times bestselling Author of fantasy novels and short stories. She was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Los Angeles, and graduated from Yale University. These days she lives and writes in Los Angeles.
What I Thought
I was super lucky to get to read this hotly anticipated adult novel by Leigh Bardugo way before its October release. Thanks go to the superstars from #Orionontour in Dorchester. What follows is my honest review.
Having enjoyed Leigh’s Grisha series and being oddly fascinated by secret societies, especially since watching the film The Skulls 19 years ago! I went in expecting to enjoy this. And I did.
Our main protagonist is Alex “not short for Alexandra” Stern, who has been invited to enter the Ninth House. Head hunted if you like, thanks to her unique ability to see Grays (ghosts) without the need to ingest toxic concoctions.
The story is based at Yale University where their real life secret societies have long been shrouded by mystery and have produced an influential person or twenty.
Bardugo imagines that the occult is behind their success (or does she 😉🤐) and the Ninth House – Lethe – is the society that polices the others. They make sure rules and rituals are followed and ensure that hopefully no one dies.
Lethe has its own hierarchy, and Alex – codename Dante, works most closely with her Virgil, Darlington and their Oculus, Dawes. There’s also Turner a member of the police who gets his eyes wide opened whilst working the murder.
The book switches forward and back in time and contains a number of mysteries that both Alex, and us as readers, must solve.
What happened at Alex’s Ground Zero? Who killed the town girl on a society ritual night? What does the murderous ghost called the Bridegroom want with Alex? Where did my favourite character go?
I found it straightforward to follow what was happening, but it is a gradual unpicking so those that like quick answers might get a little frustrated as all the different threads are weaved over the course of many years.
Alex is also a student so she has to attend classes, write papers, earn money, keep her secret life hidden from her buddies and sometimes even go to parties. Note: Trigger warning for rape and sexual assault and some fairly satisfying, if gross revenge for the latter.
I really enjoyed the relationships Alex has with those around her, in particular how her and Dawes start working together after a frosty beginning. Alex herself is complex, and is definitely hiding things. Is she a hero or an anti-hero?
My only slight complaint was the absence of a character I wanted more of in the present narrative, but hey I’m definitely up for impatiently waiting for book two’s release.
Vibes I got from this book: The Skulls, Flatliners, a much darker Ghost Whisperer, Dollhouse, Supernatural, Shadowhunters, Vicious. All things I love.
Ninth House opens up an exciting new urban fantasy world for an ongoing series full of privileged and unprincipled societies, ghosts, the occult and complex characters. I was invited. I’m staying.