Welcome back to Day’s YA, where I share my candid responses to YA titles from Wednesday Books and Flatiron Books YA. Today’s post features one of my all-time favorite upcoming titles. It’s got Viking warriors, brutal battles, a bit of heart, and a fierce female lead. Are you excited? Because you should be.
Initial reaction: This book is so good I’m having trouble coming up with the words to tell you about it. Must process. Check back later.
Update: Okay, I think I’m good now. Here we go.
As a member of the Aska clan, seventeen-year-old Eelyn has spent her entire life learning how to be a warrior—preparing for the traditional battle against the enemy clan. For many centuries, the gods of the Riki and the Aska have been at war, so the people battle it out every five years on behalf of their gods. This time is different for Eelyn, though. She has been waiting for five long years to avenge the death of her brother, who fell off of a cliff in front of Eelyn during the last battle against the Riki. So when Eelyn sees her dead brother, Iri, fighting with the Riki in battle, she is forced to question everything she thought she knew. In a moment of uncertainty, Eelyn is captured by the Riki and must spend the winter in their village, living among the enemy in the place her brother now calls home. Eelyn desperately longs to get back to her clan and her family, but there is no way for her to do so. When a third clan—one even more brutal than the others—attacks the Riki village, Eelyn must convince the Riki and the Aska to put their differences behind them and work together to defeat the new enemy.
As soon as I reached the last page of this novel, I wanted to go back and start from the beginning again just so I could continue to be wrapped up in Young’s words. Know her characters. Experience the world she created. The character of Eelyn is a badass warrior heroine who will appeal to fans of Marvel’s Wonder Woman, as well as Disney’s Brave and Tamora Pierce’s ALANNA series. She is simultaneously fierce and sensitive; she loves deeply, but she is also able to instantly take someone down with her axe. Adrienne Young’s debut novel is written with the finesse of a veteran author, and to give you a taste of her brilliance I’m going to leave you with a quote from the second page of the book that captures the emotion and voice of the novel:
“Vegr yfir fior. Honor above life. The first whistle cut into the air from our right, warning us to get ready and I closed my eyes, feeling the steadiness of the earth beneath my feet. The sounds of battle rushing toward us bled together as the deep-throated prayers of my clansmen rose up around me like smoke from a wildfire. I let the words march out under my breath, asking Sigr to guard me. To help me bring down his enemies.”
Now, as a special treat, here’s a word from debut author, Adrienne Young:
As story gatekeepers, I know the role you play in a book’s life and in the life of young people is invaluable. That’s why I am so excited for you to meet Eelyn, a fierce, but deep warrior whose life is about to change forever. In many ways, her journey reflects my own and I know that there are teens out there who will find a mirror in these pages. What I hope girls see in this book is the message that I wish had been given to me—that you don’t have to apologize for strength and passion and that you don’t have to be either hard or soft, but that you can be both. You can fight fiercely and you can love deeply. Most importantly, that you can dare to see the world differently than the way you always have. And that even though it’s scary, it’s absolutely thrilling to open your eyes for the first time. Eelyn will be forced to confront everything she’s ever been taught. She will have to grieve, learn to love, and redefine what family, loyalty, and forgiveness is.
I hope you are swept away with Eelyn as she runs straight into battle, headed toward a future she could never have imagined!
Isn’t she amazing?! I could rave on and on about Adrienne and her book, but I think I’ll stop here.
Until next time, have a stupendous Tuesday and happy reading!