The Girl the Sea Gave Back
Published September 3, 2019
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About The Girl the Sea Gave Back
The new gut-wrenching epic from the New York Times bestselling author of SKY IN THE DEEP.
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.
THE GIRL THE SEA GAVE BACK is told in alternating points of view from Tova, a Truthtongue living with the Svell as an outcast, and Halvard, a young warrior destined to become leader of his tribe. I liked both characters immediately. Halvard is so eager to do the right thing and has a fierceness and yet this endearing core of self-doubt. Tova has this insatiable curiosity about her past and an unshakeable faith in the Spinners, who weave the fate of everyone.
I found it a little difficult to follow some of the story world and keep track of the broad cast of characters. I didn’t realize at first that THE GIRL THE SEA GAVE BACK is from the same story world as Young’s debut, SKY IN THE DEEP. If I had it to do over again, I think I would have tried to read SKY IN THE DEEP first so that I had a better understanding and more familiarity with the background, the tribes, and Halvard’s huge family.
The story has a very rich feel to it in terms of its history and culture. Each tribe has its own lore, its own gods and traditions, and its own way of doing things. The clash in those traditions created a lot of tension, too. That and the emphasis on the Spinners and their role in weaving together everyone’s fates created a sort of global feel in THE GIRL THE SEA GAVE BACK that I really enjoyed.
It does also have a lot of battles and battle violence. A couple chapters are mostly descriptions of one critical battle. It was a little much for me, but you probably know by now that I’m a sensitive reader, so factor that in and check out my content notes below for more specific details.
If you enjoyed SEA WITCH by Sarah Henning or CROWN OF CORAL AND PEARL by Mara Rutherford then you should check out THE GIRL THE SEA GAVE BACK.
Recommended for Ages 16 up.
I think the characters are all sort of Scandinavian-ish? Blond hair and pale skin, or dark hair and pale skin.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild profanity used infrequently.
Kissing between boy and girl.
Each tribe worships a specific god and has rituals to honor that god. Tova believes in the Spinners, gods who weave the fates of everyone.
Extended descriptions of battle violence. Some descriptions of physical abuse of a child. Some descriptions of torturing prisoners. Situations of peril.
Tova breathes in a poisonous, hallucinogenic smoke in order to speak to the Spinners.
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