*Editors note: This year, we have enlisted a few fellow audiofiles to help use review Odyssey contenders. We are excited to get some fresh takes on these listens. First up is Cindy Vanderbrink:
Trained to be a warrior, Eelyn of the Aska made her first kill at eleven years old. Now seventeen, she and her fighting partner Myra face the Riki and thirst for vengeance for the death of Eelyn’s beloved brother. As battle rages, Eelyn faces sure death at the hands of a fierce combatant. Just as the Riki is about to make a lethal blow, her assumed dead brother, now fighting for the Riki, materializes and convinces the his clansman to let her go. Eelyn decides to follow the Riki to look for her brother and is captured.
Now a prisoner, she is forced to live with Iri’s adoptive family and to wear a collar signifying her as a dyr (servant). She struggles with Iri’s betrayal and her guilt of leaving him to die. As time passes, she learns to accept Iri’s adoptive family and his decision to stay with them.
She never stops yearning to return to the Aska, but her plans for escape are derailed when the Riki and Aska villages are brutally attacked by the Herja clan.
So I was a bit nervous when I started listening to this audiobook because the intro music is way to spritely for the tone of the story. I was quickly won over by Audie award winning Khristine Hvam’s captivating performance. While Hvam’s voice is a bit too mature for Eelyn, she does a beautiful job expressing Eelyn’s fierceness and vulnerability. Her tone and thoughtful enunciation are evident as she never stumbles over Young’s rich prose, including language in the Aska and Riki tongue. The pacing is stellar and it’s impossible not to have a visceral reaction during vivid battle sequences. The only downside of the production is Hvam’s noticeable breaths between every sentence.
Though it may not win the Odyssey Award, this riveting, emotionally engaging audiobook begs for repeated listens.
The Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young, read by Khristine Hvam. 8 hours 50 minutes, 7 CDs. MacMillan Audio, 2018.
Cindy Vanderbrink is the Children’s and Teen Collection Development Librarian for the Toledo Lucas County Public Library. She is a member of ALSC and YALSA. She served two year on YALSA’s Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults Committee and two years on ALSC’s Notable Children’s Recordings Committee. She loves picture books, graphic novels, teen literature and audiobooks.