The Girl the Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young is a book about a girl named Tova, a Truthtongue sent away from her people and found by the people called the Svell. After being used and feared by the Svell her entire life, Tova begins to tell their doomed future in the runestones she wears around her neck. As they march to war to prevent their destruction, Tova sees her fate unfold around her in the form of a young man and his mysterious friend, a Kyrr like herself.
I enjoyed the storytelling in this novel. Though most of the novel took place in Tova’s present, some of the chapters went back in time to tell the past in exactly the right moments and every time it did, it built on the characters and helped to move them forward in the story. There is an interesting dichotomy between having a character-driven story and the idea of fate in The Girl the Sea Gave Back. Tova drives the story in her interpretation of fate, despite many of the other characters believing that fate cannot be changed as it is a pre-determined set of events written on the Tree of Urðr. Tova learns about the fluidity of fate through the novel and eventually learns that the words that are written on the tree sometimes come in riddles.
I had been craving a standalone novel to read after being stuck in the middle of so many epic series of books, and this was the perfect one to read. I enjoyed the length because it felt not too long and not too short. There was no time to get bored, but nothing about the story felt rushed – other than their march towards war. It felt so nice to read a book that wrapped up nicely at the end – however, I highly recommend reading the edition that has the bonus chapter at the end! It’s the perfect ending, and to me, it is a necessary element with which to end the story.
Adrienne Young’s storytelling ability is elegant in the way it flows. I love the way that Young brings her characters to life in this beautiful world and guides them together to reach the climax of this epic tale. I would recommend that anyone interested in Norse mythology read this book, as well as fans of the many fantasy series featuring strong female leads. Tova fits in very well next to them.
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