#BlogTour #Review: Lake Child by Isabel Ashdown #Thriller @IsabelAshdown

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Today I am thrilled to be hosting a stop on the blog tour for Isabel Ashdown’s latest psychological thriller, Lake Child. Set in the stunningly beautiful Norwegian fjords, this baby will have you lulled into a false sense of serenity whilst continually pummelling you with an intense family drama full of unexpected twists and heart wrenching moments. If you like a little nail biting while your emotions get played like a dollar store banjo, then this one will certainly be for you!


lake childTitle: Lake Child

Author: Isabel Ashdown

Publisher: Trapeze

Publication Date: September 19, 2019

Genre: Psychological Triller, Mystery

Themes: Amnesia, Family, Trauma, Romance

Features: N/A


My Rating: 5/ 5


Synopsis

You trust your family. They love you. Don’t they?

When 17-year-old Eva Olsen awakes after a horrific accident that has left her bedbound, her parents are right by her side. Caring and kind, they watch over her night and day in the attic room of their family home in the forests of Norway.

But the accident has left Eva without her most recent memories. And someone isn’t telling her the truth. As secrets from the night of the accident begin to surface, Eva realises – she has to escape her parents’ house and discover the truth. But what if someone doesn’t want her to find it?

An edge-of-your-seat, atmospheric psychological thriller for fans of The Sinner and Sharp Objects.


My Review

Eva has been in a terrible accident, and when she wakes up nothing is as it seems. Her memories of the recent past remain tantalizingly out of reach, the driver of the vehicle she was found in can’t be located, her best friends are mysteriously absent from her life, and her parents are keeping some pretty big secrets. And to make things worse, it appears that the police might be in on the deception. Whether it’s to keep her under control or for her own good, Eva is locked away 24/7 in the attic of her parents home and begins to go to extreme measures to gain even a paltry glimpse of freedom, claw back her memories, and uncover the secrets that everyone seems so desperate to keep from her.

I can’t say a whole lot more without dropping some serious spoilers, but hold hell what an amazing rollercoaster ride! I was gripping my seat for 90% of the book and bawling my face off for the other 10%. I mean, I got so wrapped up in Eva’s story that I almost forgot to eat dinner the first night that I picked this baby up. Everything from her parents approach to Eva’s recovery to attempting to solve her own case, and from reconnecting with her friends to Eva’s budding romance, is so emotionally fraught that it hurts.

As a result, I found Eva to be a realistic and rather likeable character, even before her memories start to come back. I mean sure, she’s impulsive, emotional, and a little (okay, a lot) dramatic at times but it all added to her charm. It helps to remember that she was just 17 when she was in a horrific accident, survived a coma, and woke up to some serious amnesia – I rather thought she was handling her situation impeccably well, even if some of her decisions were a little misguided. Investigations are hard enough, let alone when the primary witness can’t remember a thing and no one seems willing to tell the truth. Now add a very sweet romance with a junior officer into the emotional maelstrom that is Eva’s life and you have just enough hope to light the way.

Her parents, Ingrid and Tobias, were also incredibly compelling characters. Their stories are buried a little deeper than Eva’s but no less important. I spent most of the book judging and hating them for their actions against their daughter, but had to check my bias and assumptions when their leg of the plot finally started to come to light. I ended siding with them, locked attic room and all, because of their unwavering dedication to their daughter, the tenderness with which they treated her, and then lengths that they went through to ensure that Eva was safe and thriving.

Really though, this story had it all including some incredibly misdirecting leads in the investigation into Eva’s accident. I mean it has everything! Creepy, inappropriate weirdo who makes inappropriate passes at young girls? Got one. Strangers running around the woods in the dead of the night? Yep, got those too. Skeezy, drug-dealing bartenders who serves minors? Can’t leave him out. Ashdown really likes to keep you guessing and it’s utterly fantastic.

But that’s not all, just as things start to look like they’re on the upswing an incredible secondary plot rears it’s head and steals the show entirely. Double the mystery, double the fun, this tantalizing secondary plot is set in London and subtly brings all of the disparate pieces of Eva’s story together. There is a fabulous interplay between the two tracts and the tension created by them is palpable. And just in case Eva’s accident wasn’t enough of a mystery, this little twist injects endless possibilities and keeps you guessing page after page. Up until the London plot came into play I thought that I had this story all figured out and then bam! everything I thought I knew went straight out the window. The ending was so far from what I expected that I had to take a few days to digest it before I could sit down and write my review – it was fantastic!

Lake Child is equal parts cerebral and engaging, and Ashdown’s delectable prose will leave you craving more. If you like mystery, drama, and some seriously deep character building I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Borrow it from the library, buy it for yourself, buy it for your friends, or maybe even get a start on your Christmas shopping and buy a case load – it’s worth it.


About The Author

isabel-ashdown-2016-2Isabel Ashdown is the author of seven novels, including bestselling thrillers Little Sister and Beautiful Liars.

Isabel’s writing career first took off after she studied as a mature student at the University of Chichester, from where she graduated with a first class degree in English, and a Masters in Creative Writing with distinction. This ‘late bloomer’ return to education confirmed to her what she long suspected: all she really wanted to do was write. While still studying, an extract of her debut novel Glasshopper won a national writing competition judged by Fay Weldon, Michael Ridpath and the late Sir John Mortimer and the published book was twice named among the Best Books of the Year. More recently, her thrillers Little Sister and Beautiful Liars have been Amazon bestsellers, going on to be shortlisted in the Dead Good Reader Awards 2018 and 2019.

Having taught creative writing at various festivals and institutions across the country, Isabel was a recent Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of Chichester, where she worked with individual students to help them make their writing the best it could be. Her work with the Royal Literary Fund continues, as she now leads a community ‘Reading Round’, a group aimed at bringing readers together for the sheer pleasure of the written word. Her essay on the subject of voice features in Writing a First Novel by Karen Stevens (Palgrave MacMillan 2014).

Isabel was born in London, grew up on the south coast and now lives in West Sussex with her family. She is a member of the Society of Authors.


Many thanks to Tracy Fenton at Compulsive Readers for inviting me to join in this tour, and for providing copy in exchange for an honest review.

Lake Child Blog Tour Part 1

 

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#BlogTour #Review: Simon Says by Jo Wesley #Thriller #DomesticThriller @JoWwriter @rararesources

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If you’re looking for an action packed thriller full of twists and turns, adrenaline seekers be warned, you won’t find that here. Instead, what you will find is a painfully raw narrative that will take you on an emotional journey like no other. Following the dual timeline story of Cindy as both a teen being groomed and abused by her older sister’s pedophiliac boyfriend and also later in life as she returns to her old home and begins to see her abuser around every corner – and finally start fighting back. Get your tissues ready, because this one will rip your heart out.


Simon SaysTitle: Simon Says

Author: Jo Wesley

Publication Date: July 11, 2019

Genre: Domestic Thriller, Thriller

Themes: Family, Trauma, Childhood Abuse

Trigger Warning: Simon Says is a domestic thriller about woman who was groomed as a child and her fight to save herself and her children from the man who destroyed her childhood and who now demands her silence.

Nothing shocking is portrayed, but the reader does realise what has happened and lives Cindy’s emotional journey as she draws the strength to fight back against all odds. And win.

Purchase Links

https://www.amazon.co.uk/SIMON-SAYS-gripping-psychological-thriller-ebook/dp/B07V4T18GJ

https://www.amazon.com/SIMON-SAYS-gripping-psychological-thriller-ebook/dp/B07V4T18GJ


My Rating: 4.5/ 5


Synopsis

Her life may not be perfect but she’s happy. Until she makes a terrible decision – and learns the hard way that home is not a place of refuge.

Not while Simon lurks in every shadow.

He groomed her as a teen: terrorised her into fleeing, leaving her baby behind. Now the man who destroyed her childhood has become the perfect father to her teenage daughter. And her return threatens his future.

A desperate man is a dangerous one.

Simon says she must leave or suffer the consequences. She refuses.

Now it’s his move. Because it’s not enough to face your demons.

Sometimes, you must destroy them.


My Review

This book is something to be reckoned with. It takes subject matter that is uncomfortable and horrible on every level, and presents it through innocent eyes and makes the narrative approachable. We get to witness no only the story of an undoing, but also one of overcoming trauma and the transition from victim to survivor. The dual timeline approach is perfect for this story, especially since Cindy as an adult has such a different voice from her younger self that it’s almost as if we’re reading two entirely different people – and in a way we are.

The divided selves are a perfect complement to one another, with childhood events providing context to adult motivations in a way that never, ever feels like an info dump. Instead, This background information carries the plot, it has as much action as Cindy’s shady adult life, and it makes her into an incredibly relatable character whereas if we were only ever even the adult version of her story it would be really easy to get judgemental, and fast. Through this we are exposed to a toxic and impoverished childhood household, a mother who is emotionally immature and occasionally physically abusive, and an older sister who’s just moved back in and is determined to make Cindy’s life hell. Her only escapes are the friendship she’s struck up with the new boy next door, Troy, and the time that she spends skiving off school by herself. But things go really sideways when her sister’s boyfriend starts to show her a little too much attention . You can see every act of grooming, and the impact these actions will have later in life, and believe me it’s hard to read. With every new hurt, every new trauma, my heart broke a little more until I was finally shattered.

Cindy starts out sweet and innocent. She is lonely, starved for attention, and already struggling at school but she isn’t a bad kids by any means. The biggest challenge is that her only friend attends another school and ultimately she has no one to confide in. In short, she’s the perfect target, and Simon knows this all too well. He takes advantage of the tennis relationships Cindy has with her family knowing that Mandy would tout any complaint as jealousy and they their mother would be too concerned about appearances and neighbourhood gossip. So he starts with a few kind words, then some more adult(erous) complements, a couple of small gifts, and then the thing that she needs most – a refuge. Oh, how quickly that will turn into the stuff of nightmares.

Flash forward to the day that Cindy wakes in the night to discover that not only is the house that she lives in with her twin children on fire, but that her partner Jez has died in the night from a drug overdose. She barely has time to get herself and the children out of the house before it is completely engulfed, only discover that this particular blaze wasn’t an accident. She flees in Jez’s car and heads back to the only home that she has ever know. Not only do her problems follow her, but the past and present collide as she is reunited not only with Troy, but also her abuser.

While there’s certainly lots of action in Cindy’s adult life, the events that shine through with overpowering brilliance are those moments when Cindy comes face to face with her past and her demons, when she chooses to be brave even when she is petrified, and when she stays and fights even when every fibre in her core screams that she should run. And all of this is balanced out by the tenderness and support that Cindy is shown by Troy and his family, as they too come to grips with Cindy’s past. They are kind and compassionate shoulders on which she is able to lean through these troubling events, and while not perfect, are beautiful examples of how to support someone confronting their traumas.

Simon Says is beautifully written and eloquently crafted giving a completely and compelling picture without ever being unnecessarily graphic. And although it is gut-wrenching and difficult in every possible way, it is ultimately uplifting. If you life deep characters and a gritty, real feel then this one is definitely for you.


About The Author

SIMON SAYS isn’t my first thriller. Several unpublished novels went before it, but there was something about this story that made me come back to it time-and-time again. Although it was written in 2015, recently a few author friends encouraged me to publish it as they remembered reading it years before.

I used to work in an office where the wider team comprised people working with drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence and general community safety. I wrote SIMON SAYS during this period and my team provided information and advice. Also, the Red Watch team at the local fire station read my first chapter during their tea break and advised on a couple of points to make it more accurate (I thought it would be one person, not the whole team reading it!).

Currently, I am completing a novel in another genre but I really enjoy writing thrillers, so I am planning my next one.

Twitter – https://twitter.com/JoWwriter


Many thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to join in this tour, and to Jo Wesley for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

#BlogTour #Review: The Bad Place by M. K. Hill @markhillwriter @HoZ_Books #CrimeFiction

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Today I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for The Bad Place by M. K. Hill. This gripping psychological thriller come police procedural is just the right amount of dark and twisty and a whole lot of action-packed. It balances character with plot, fear with action, and while you get completely wrapped up in the investigation there is enough left to the imagination that you can jitter yourself right out of your skin. If you’re looking for a thrilling read that is perfect for lead up to halloween (or any time you like a little twisted in your life) then read it, you won’t be disappointed!


Book coverTitle: The Bad Place

Author: M. K. Hill

Publisher: Head of Zeus

Publication Date: September 5, 2019

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Crime, Police Procedural

Themes: Murder, Serial Killers, Kidnapping, Trauma, Family Dynamics

Features: N/A


My Rating: 4.5/ 5


Synopsis

The newspapers called it The Bad Place. A remote farm out on the Thames estuary, where six children were held captive for two weeks. Five of them got out alive.

That was twenty years ago. Now adults, they meet upannually to hold a candlelit vigil for their friend who died. The only rule is that no-one can talk about what happened the night they escaped. But at this year’s event, one of them witnesses a kidnapping. A young girl, Sammi, is bundled into a van in front of their eyes. Is history repeating itself?

Is one of them responsible? Or is someone sending them a twisted message?

DI Sasha Dawson, of Essex Police, is certain that the key to finding Sammi lies in finding out the truth about The Bad Place. But she also knows that with every second she spends trying to unlock the past, the clock ticks down for the missing girl…

Buy links:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2GYIgBh

Kobo: https://bit.ly/2H24dzE

iBooks: https://apple.co/2Z0BaTh

Google Play: https://bit.ly/2yUXJhq


My Review

There is something particularly joyful that comes with diving into the first book in a promising new series. And The Bad Place is off to a particularly cracking start! We have a long closed case with a trailing public memory and appears to be repeating itself, a tenacious DI with some tumultuous family issues, and a broad cast of supporting characters that drag you into the deep and refuse to let you go.

Told is both dual timeline and dual perspective between DI Sasha Dawson and survivor Karin McCarthy, you’re constantly drawn between fact and speculation, past and present, character and action. The pacing of this book is break-neck and so incredibly spot on, there is never a dull moment even when exploring Sasha’s family. The investigative team too has a fun dynamic with individual and unique characters. It’s clear that there are so many ways in which this narrative can grow and I can’t wait to see what comes next. The kidnappings too keep those pages turning. The case is full of unexpected twists, intriguing histories, and is complicated by the grip of trauma and the fallacy of memory.

As each new kidnapping takes place it becomes clear that everyone is holding on to secrets, and that those secrets have incredible costs. Whether it’s the five survivors of the original kidnapping, their families, or the original investigating officers there’s so much more to this case than originally meets the eye – which constantly leaves you guessing and you all know how much I love that! I loved how the Sammi arc played out as her presence in the story added yet another layer to the drama, and really heightened the mass dysfunction that surrounded the survivors.

I absolutely adored how Karin’s story was told in dual timeline, with flashbacks to her time at the Bad Place interspersed throughout the present day. Her raw experience in the cellar, the psychological manipulations of both her captor and the other kids in the cellar, and the aftermath of her role in the kids survival created a story that could have stood on it’s own. I ended up completely enraptured by her story for all of it’s good, bad, and ugly. She’s hard to love and hard to hate, but you simply can’t tear your eyes away from her story.

Sasha on the other hand is easy to get behind! She has an infectious passion that draws you in from the get go. Everything from her team management to her hatred of shoes and the love she holds for her family reads as relatable and genuine. And as much as Karin carried the crime story, Sasha’s family carried the weight of the personal narrative.  I had nothing but sympathy as she tried to navigate the issues with her husband and the needs of her two teenaged children. And even more sympathy when her mother decided to move in after ending 50 years of marriage – cue the drama! Sure, we spend a lot of time with Sasha’s family, more than on her investigation of the case, but this wasn’t a bad thing. As the first book in the series I took this as some serious ground work and think that there are great things coming down the line.

There are a lot of characters to keep track of, but if you’re willing to juggle multiple narratives, then I am happy to assure you that they all come together in the end. Hill will keep you entranced from first page to last. the darkest moments are offset by tenderness and humour, and complicated subject matter is balanced by an accessible vocabulary and an approachable writing style.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely! It’s thrilling, fast paced, and emotionally dynamic. It’s perfect for a little scare in the lead up to halloween, and even better for those that like to indulge in thrillers year round. I’m excited to see where DI Sasha Dawson and the team head next, as I’m sure it will be nothing short of fabulous.


About The Author

Hill, M.KIt’s nice to see you here, thanks for coming.

I’ve been a journalist and an award-winning music radio producer. I worked for about five minutes in PR. But I write the Drake and Crowley thriller series now, which is just as well, because I love writing. It’s my dream job.

If you enjoyed His First Lie or It Was Her, do get in touch. There are plenty of ways to do it!

Follow Mark:

Facebook: @MarkHillAuthor

Twitter: @markhillwriter

Instagram:@markhillwriter

Follow Aria

Website: http://www.headofzeus.com

Twitter: @HoZ_Books

Facebook: @headofzeus

Instagram: @headofzeus


Many thanks to Victoria Joss at Head of Zeus for inviting me to join in on this tour, and for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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#Review: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo #YAFiction #YAFantasy @alliechristo

Today I am thrilled to be sharing a 5* review for one of my favourite reads of the summer – To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo. This exceptional retelling of the Little Mermaid came to me as a recommendation after I put out a call for titles on Twitter and all I have to say is damn! All you amazing YA authors, bloggers, and readers really know your stuff!


kingdomTitle: To Kill A Kingdom

Author: Alexandra Christo

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Publication Date: March 6, 2018

Genre: YA Fantasy, YA Fiction

Themes: Family, Revenge, Betrayal, Mermaids

Features: N/A


My Rating: 5/ 5


Synopsis

From Goodreads…

Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?


My Review

Oh. My. Giddy. Goodness.

This book is beyond amazing. Like, the kind of good where I finished reading it, took a breath, and went right back to the beginning to start reading it again just to make sure that I didn’t miss anything on my first go around.

I’m huge fan of fairy tale retellings, but Christo took it to a whole new level. To Kill a Kingdom is a creative blend between the fairytale as we know it with our mermaid (siren) being banished to the surface, loosing her voice, and finding true love in her quest to get it back and some of the more traditional siren lore such as the eating of hearts, immunity to the siren song, and dissolving into foam upon death. It pulls in elements of lore from a variety of different times, cultures, and even modern retellings to created a well-rounded representation of these sea-dwelling beauties.

And I loved too how the sea witch was transformed from an elusive entity into Lira mother’s. The element of an evil, power hungry parent really raised the anti and made me feel like I was reading disney on steroids. The added drama of the familial dynamics added a layer of excitement and intrigue that sucked me right in. Of course, we still have our prince, but he’s a rather unwilling one at that. Preferring to spend his time on the open ocean hunting down siren’s and living the pirate life Prince Elian is the perfect foil for Lira. And you know what they say about opposites, they attract, and in this case there are some serious fireworks.

But, oh my god, Lira. Can you say seriously bad-ass? Even with her voice and powers stripped she is a force to be reckoned with. Her grit, determination, and ruthless mind is an absolute pleasure to read. I found myself laughing uncontrollably at her pigheadedness, rooting for her disastrous escape attempts, and determination to learn how to use a sword. She is the kind of vicious and lovely that I would never want to end up on the wrong side of – but seriously, Elian never stood a chance of guarding his heart against her! More than anything though, I loved watching Lira transform from a monster of the deep into a thinking, feeling, (sometimes overly) emotional person who never for got her heritage, came up with some insane plans, and fights for her people with a devotion that can’t be outmatched.

Finally, the quest element was out of this world! Having Lira and Elian’s objectives slowly intertwine into a combined adventure was wonderful to behold. Lira on a quest to kill a prince, Prince Elian on a quest to kill, well, Lira and both of them trying to find an eye from a long dead goddess. This is a recipe for some seriously delicious drama. I can’t say more without spoiling, but it’s amazing. Don’t take my word for it, go read it.

The writing in this book is absolutely everything. It’s engaging right from the opening lines and it pulls you and spits you out like a Siren dragging you beneath the sea. Christo will steal your heart my friends, with all her talk of mermaids, pirates, witty banter, complete characters, and an exceptionally well built world. To Kill a Kingdom is funny, fantastic, and enthralling in all the best ways.

Read it.

Because I’m off to treat myself to round three.


I purchased this book as a direct result of blogger recommendations – all opinions are my own. #bookboggersstillbuybooks

 

#ARC #Review: The Girl the Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young @Adriennebooks #YAFantasy

Today I’m delighted to be sharing my review for The Girl the Sea gave Back by Adrienne Young. This bad boy is the epic sequel to Sky in the Deep and brings back the dynamic universe of clans, warriors, fjords and magic created in the first instalment. Told from the viewpoints of the now-grown Halvard and the mysterious truth tongue Tova, this fast paced adventure will take you on wild ride.


SeaTitle: The Girl the Sea Gave Back

Author: Adrienne Young

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Publication Date: September 3, 2019

Genre: YA, Historical Fiction

Themes: War, Revenge, Coming of Age, Romance

Features: N/A


My Rating: 4/ 5


Synopsis

From Goodreads… 

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 rune 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 the 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.


My Review

Okay, let’s get some housekeeping out of the way right off the bat. While The Girl the Sea Gave Back is a sequel, it is not a retelling of Eelyn and Fiske’s epic love story. And guess what? That’s a good thing! How boring would it be to read the same story over and over again, just with different characters… ugh, yuck. Sure, we know that Halvard and Tova are going to have some chemistry but when you set that inevitability aside there’s actually a who lot of awesome and action to be had.

I really enjoyed how this book was a sequel, in so much as it was set in the same universe with some overlapping characters, but that it’s entirely independent and can easily be read as a standalone novel. Set ten years after the Aska and Riki ended a bitter blood feud in order to defeat the Herja, we’re brought back to the mountain and the fjord as a new battle rages. Only this time the story centres around the sweet and curious Halvard as he makes his way as a leader and a man, and also Tova, a bewitching Truthtongue with no memories of her past and the weight of a people on her shoulders. Together they navigate the treacherous future carved out as the Svell attack the Nadhir and seek to maintain the peace established by Eelyn and Fiske.

Now, I’m not normally a fan of passive/ submissive female characters, but I ended up really enjoying Tova. Yes, she is basically a captive of the Svell, manipulated but their Tala into doing his bidding and used as a tool of war but she offers continual acts of resistance in small ways in which she is capable. She sneaks into meetings from which she is forbidden, tells the truth even when it will anger her captors, and is unbelievably brave in the moments when courage is needed the most. She lies to her chieftain, plucks up the courage to attempt an escape, and when battle looms she takes up her bow. She might battle with her braids and struggle with dresses, but dang that woman is fierce!

Harvard too plays on some pretty strong emotions. He is a child of peace thrown into war, a fisherman’s son pushed into leadership at a young age, and through it all a young man trying to find his way in the world. Although he is a fierce warrior he is also sweet, and soft, and thoughtful in the kind of way that sucks you right in. The fear and apprehension of his pending responsibilities is only natural and entirely relatable. His coming of age showcases his varied experiences from those of his clansmen and demonstrates that there is strength in sensitivity.

I loved that Halvard continued his friendship with Asmund and Bard even after they left to become aider and the rest o the community turned their backs on him. It was touching that Halvard was frightened of being so much power as a leader and that he remained more concerned about doing right by his people than any sort of personal gain. And was absolutely gutted by how he always considered the implication his actions would have on family – if only everyone were so thoughtful! I found him to be a relatable and enjoyable character to read – equal parts awkward and burgeoning man, but what I loved most was how he read as a sweet young man. That’s right, he actually felt like a teen. Okay, okay, a highly trained and particularly deadly teen, but he felt his age and it was glorious!

Perhaps my only complaint is that I wanted more.

I wanted to know more of what happened between the battle with the Herja and the attack from the Svell. I wanted to know how the Aska and Riki navigated the joining of their clans and the quashing of their blood feud. I wanted more than passing glimpses of Eelyn, Fiske, Iri, Runa, Espen and Aghi. And I definitely wanted to know more about the Kyrr! A little extra attention to world building would have gone a long way but I’m greedy and this just wasn’t that kind of story. All I can say is take that desire fore more as a complement as this story sucked me right in, and as much as I enjoy jumping into a 400 page behemoth I completely understand that value of something that appears approachable on the shelf while simultaneously covering all it’s bases as a complete and compelling story.

Young’s writing is dynamic and approachable to a wide variety of audiences. As an adult reader I certainly enjoyed my time with this book, but it’s simple style and quick paced plot is sure to appeal to a younger audience as well. The romance in it is sweeter and more innocent than that of Sky in the Deep, but then again, so are all of the characters. Regardless, get ready to get your heart ripped out, say goodbye to some old favourites, and fall in love all over again. I absolutely adored this book, and hope that there are more to come.


Many thanks to NetGalley for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.