[A quick note: This book came out a few years ago. It was selected as my September “wild card” read, as I had an extra slot on my September TBR and it came HIGHLY recommended. I love finding gems like this. It was a fairly quick read. Moreover, a wonderful surprise. It had everything I love about a fantasy YA]
“𝗪𝗲 𝗳𝗶𝗻𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗴𝘀, 𝗷𝘂𝘀𝘁 𝗮𝘀 𝘄𝗲 𝗹𝗼𝘀𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗴𝘀. 𝗜𝗳 𝘆𝗼𝘂’𝘃𝗲 𝗹𝗼𝘀𝘁 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗵𝗼𝗻𝗼𝗿, 𝘆𝗼𝘂’𝗹𝗹 𝗳𝗶𝗻𝗱 𝗶𝘁 𝗮𝗴𝗮𝗶𝗻.” —Adrienne Young
SUMMARY: Eelyn is a seventeen year old warrior who fights with her Aska clansmen against their Riki rivals. The brutal lives of these warriors are simple, until the day she sees the impossible: her brother Iri fighting on the battlefield beside her enemy. The same brother she watched die five years ago. Iri’s betrayal cuts deep. When she is captured into slavery by his clansmen, she has no choice but to trust Iri and Fiske. It is the only way to make it home in the spring. Her captivity challenges everything she believed about her enemy. Then a ruthless clan of legend raids the Riki’s village, threatening both the lives of the Riki and Aska. Driven by her love for the Aska and her growing love for Fiske, she must put aside her beliefs and challenge her own definition of loyalty, while placing faith in the people she spent a lifetime hating.
REVIEW: This book was absolutely fantastic. It fostered so many emotions! The writing was poetic and beautiful, yet brutal and unforgiving. It had my favorite trope—enemies to lovers. But most impressive was the incredible emotional journey Eelyn takes, and the internal conflict she confronts. This is woven seamlessly into the plot.
Eelyn’s emotional battle throughout the book was WOW. The roots of her conflict go deep. Eelyn was Iri’s shieldmate—her responsibility. So when he dies, she blames herself. Seeing him on the battlefield doesn’t feel real. And when he saves her life, jumping in front of Fiske’s blade, she still can’t believe it. It’s this disbelief that gets her captured. Iri and Fiske do everything they can to keep her alive, but she blames them for it. She’s afraid to confront the real reason for her emotional battle: that her choices placed her into captivity.
I loved that Eelyn was forced to serve her enemy and by doing so, learned that the Aska and Riki were no different from one another. I loved how she worked to unite the clans to defeat a common enemy. But mostly, I loved that Eelyn’s captivity challenged everything she knew and believed.
“𝗔𝗻𝗱 𝘄𝗵𝗲𝗻 𝗵𝗲 𝗸𝗶𝘀𝘀𝗲𝗱 𝗺𝗲 𝗮𝗴𝗮𝗶𝗻, 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘀𝗲𝗰𝗼𝗻𝗱𝘀 𝘀𝗹𝗼𝘄𝗲𝗱. 𝗧𝗵𝗲𝘆 𝘀𝘁𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗰𝗵𝗲𝗱 𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗺𝗮𝗱𝗲 𝗺𝗼𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗶𝗺𝗲. 𝗜 𝗳𝗲𝗹𝘁 𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗯𝗼𝗱𝘆 𝗮𝗴𝗮𝗶𝗻𝘀𝘁 𝗺𝗶𝗻𝗲, 𝘂𝗻𝗿𝗮𝘃𝗲𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘆𝘁𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗲𝗹𝘀𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝗯𝗲𝘁𝘄𝗲𝗲𝗻 𝘂𝘀, 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗺𝘆𝘀𝗼𝘂𝗹 𝘂𝗻𝘄𝗼𝘂𝗻𝗱, 𝘁𝗵𝗿𝗲𝗮𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗶𝘁𝘀𝗲𝗹𝗳 𝘁𝗼 𝗵𝗶𝘀. 𝗔𝗻𝗱 𝗜 𝗹𝗲𝘁 𝗶𝘁. 𝗜 𝗴𝗮𝘃𝗲 𝗺𝘆𝘀𝗲𝗹𝗳 𝘁𝗼 𝗵𝗶𝗺. 𝗕𝗲𝗰𝗮𝘂𝘀𝗲 𝗜 𝘄𝗮𝘀𝗮𝗹𝗿𝗲𝗮𝗱𝘆 𝗵𝗶𝘀.”
Romantically speaking, the enemies to lovers trope played out beautifully here. Fiske and Eelyn foster the purest hate towards each other. However, they have a common love: Iri. In time, Eelyn sees that the choices Fiske makes to protect her are out of love for her brother who has become his brother. Their relationship development gave me MAJOR feels. I’m definitely putting them near the top of favorite bookish couples.
The writing of the battles is brutal but beautiful. It captures the Viking way. Eelyn is strong. She’s every bit the warrior she claims to be. But when she finally breaks, it is the most beautiful thing to read. Strength, yet vulnerability. Her journey, both physically and emotionally left me breathless. I found myself thinking about this book every time I set it down. And when I finished it, I couldn’t sleep because I couldn’t stop thinking about it. That ultimately dictates my rating between a 4 and 5 with most books. In this case, there isn’t a single thing I’d change. Beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful. MY RATING: 5/5⭐️