Diamond City by Francesca Flores is a dazzling debut filled with found families, learning to overcome toxic relationships, and one very stabby main character. And while all of that is good, there are parts of the story that felt too flat for this to be an all out hit for me.
Rating: 4 Stars
This one is a follow up to a Want Now Wednesday from last year, so I’m calling it 2 Gold 2 Furious. Now we have a COVER and a FULL SYNOPSIS and a RELEASE DATE! Yes, all caps was necessary!
FYI: there will be spoilers for the end of the book in the final paragraphs of this review. I will put a second spoiler warning line before the spoilers, but I wanted to give you fair warning now.
Sky in the Deep is one of those debut books that leaves you with the knowledge that this author will bring great books into the world in the near future. Though a thoroughly enjoyable book, Sky in the Deep felt like it was lacking something. It probably would have benefitted from another 50 pages to really explore the story a bit more, but as a debut book it is solid.
Eelyn is an intensely strong female character who also shows vulnerability in perfect balance. She felt like a real person, which I was happy about. I was truly worried she’d be a one-dimensional killing machine character and I was immensely satisfied to find a female character that was strong, ferocious, AND had depth. I would not want to meet Eelyn on the battlefield, but she is a character that I would love to have as a friend. A ferocious, axe-wielding friend.
Fiske and Iri, though they share no blood, are brotherhood goals. In fact, all the family relationships in this book are very well written, and there is a strong theme that family does not always mean blood relations. It’s been a while since I read the book so I can’t go too in depth as to why I liked Fiske so much (my brain is a colander and all knowledge eventually gets drained out), but I was all about this guy. Give me a big, leather and fur clad, Viking man and I am good!
The atmosphere of this book was probably my favorite part. Though most of that probably came from the fact that I read this book in the summer and as the sun was baking me alive, I fell in love with the winter landscape of this story. But while I jumped into the snow-covered scenery descriptions to make little snow angels, I felt like the Aska and the Riki could have used a bit more depth. I got a general sense of how these Viking tribes lived their lives but I felt like I wanted more. I could have also used more exploration into the Herja. I got the sense that they were creepy but not enough of a sense to actually get creeped out.
And this is where we come to the part that disappointed me the most: the ending. So…
I flat out refuse to believe that two warring Viking clans would just lay down arms against each other and fight together after one discussion. Yes, they had the common enemy of the Herja but it was too much of a stretch for me to see these clans basically go from white hot hate to fighting together on the battlefield without there being quite a few instances of friendly fire. There needed to be a way for there to be more exploration of the clans coming to their truce. It was too clean and quick. That being said, I am okay with how the book ended in general. It was definitely a little too “Happily Ever After” but for some reason I was okay with it. Probably because I would have been PISSED if Fiske had died.
At the end of the day, this really was a solid debit novel and I recommend picking up a copy. The atmosphere was stellar, the main characters were full of raw and real emotions, and it was a complete story. I truly feel this book would have benefited from about 50 more pages to really get into the world building and fleshing out the ending in a more believable way. I was lucky enough to attend the launch party of this book back in April and heard from the author that there will be a second book in this world. I look forward to seeing what Adrienne Young brings to her second novel.