Book Review: THE GIRL THE SEA GAVE BACK by Adrienne Young

Title in white against a girl with brown hair waving in the wind reaching for an arrow with tattooed arms
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: YA
Star Rating: 3 stars
Series: Yes - 2nd book of standalones



Book cover for THE GIRL THE SEA GAVE BACK: Title in white against the figure of a girl reaching for an arrow with tattooed arms against the crashing sea

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.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves herehere.


This is a relatively short book, but it took me days to read this as I just could not get into it. I’m not quite sure why – maybe it’s the current situation or the fact I’m struggling with my writing. I wanted to liked this book, and I’d enjoyed re-reading SKY IN THE DEEP.

Unlike the first book, this has magic in the form of the rune casting and scrying. It makes the book play out a bit like a tragedy, as the runes cast are interpreted (by power hungry men) the way they want. It’s very Macbeth in that way, and I liked watching them slide down the path to ruin as they’d interpreted everything wrong so it became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

However, at times the “I’ll cast a rune and see what the gods say” attitude took away from certain characters’ agency – particularly Tova. It takes ages for her to actively do anything towards her own goals, and to define what she wants (and thus what I should be rooting for). I think that might be part of the reason I struggled to connect with her.

This book is dual POV alternating between Tova and Halvard, so we see both sides of their story. However, unlike Eeyln and Fiske, Tova and Halvard have almost no time together, spend the first half of the book as enemies, but because the gods have linked them they’re suddenly in love after one conversation? They’re relationship was hard to believe, and I didn’t feel like they had any chemistry.

Read my Reviews of other books by Adrienne Young:

Young Adult:

Sky in the Deep (this series):





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