Please note that this review may contain spoilers for Sea. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Sky was written by Sarah Driver and first published in 2017. The novel forms the second part of The Huntress Trilogy and is preceded by Sea (2017). At the time of writing the release date for the final book in the series – Storm – has yet to be announced. As Sky follows on exactly where the previous story left off, I would strongly advise reading the books in order if you want to have any idea of what is going on.

Mouse may have found the Sea-Opal, but now Stag has the map. If he figures out how to read it, the remaining two Storm-Opals will be his and all of Trianukka will be lost under a sea of ice. Mouse knows that is her duty to get the map back from him and continue her quest but she is starting to doubt that it can be done. Even with the help of Sparrow’s magic and Crow’s shape-shifting power, they are still just three children against Stag’s savage army.

As the group try to plan their next move, they find themselves captured by draggle-riders from one of the Sky Tribes. Mouse soon learns that the riders are fighting an endless war against their sworn rivals, the Wilderwitches. As the group flees their mountain stronghold, Mouse slowly begins to understand the importance of her quest. If she can’t unite the clans of Sea, Sky and Land once again, they will eventually destroy each other.

Fuelled by a new resolve, Mouse sets about to retrieve her map and find the next opal. However, it will be far from easy. Although she has made new allies within the Sky Tribes, Stag’s power is growing stronger by the day. Having brutally slaughtered the whales, he now turns his attention on hunting the Sea Wraiths. Will Mouse be able to stop him before he damages her home beyond repair?

Before I begin, I’m afraid I have to give yet another word of warning. When I reviewed Sea, I was quite stunned by how bleak and violent it was. While I didn’t think that Sky was anywhere near as nasty, it can still be a little grim in places and so I don’t think that it will appeal to everyone. If you’re planning to gift this novel to a young or sensitive reader, you might want to flip through it first to ensure that you think that it’s suitable.

While Sea was perhaps a little slow to find its feet, Sky started out at a sprint and never really slowed its pace. We open to the aftermath of Mouse, Crow and Sparrow’s thrilling escape from Castle Whalesbane and almost immediately, they stumble into the draggle-riders’ trap. While this did make the novel seem immediately more accessible, I did think that perhaps it could have done with slowing things down. The pace of Sky is utterly relentless, which meant that no time was spent allowing the reader any respite. The result was that this story felt very rushed. While Sea took a long time to set its scene, Sky rushes the characters from settlement to settlement without leaving much time for reflection.

The pacing of the novel isn’t really helped by the style of the narrative. The story is entirely told in first-person from Mouse’s perspective, and she isn’t really the best at explaining things. Very little is described or explained, leaving the reader to largely imagine what the various creatures that she encounter look like, and fight sequences are often quite hard to follow. While Mouse’s voice is what gives the story some of its charm, I do think that some readers will find her limited ability to express herself a bit frustrating.

However, all gripes aside, the world-building of The Huntress Trilogy is still breath-taking. In Sea, we learned about the life and customs of the Sea Tribe, but Sky leaves Mouse’s home far behind as she travels deeper into Trianukka. As she is no longer confined to writing about life on the high seas, this change of pace really allows Driver to be creative. In this story, Mouse finds herself caught in a feud between hunters that ride on giant bats and a tribe who can shape-shift into “skywolves”. She also visits a cloud-top stronghold, a library hidden deep inside an iceberg and a clan of amphibious people who live in huts crawling with venomous frogs. The story is stunningly imaginative and completely unpredictable, never quite going in the direction that I thought that it would.

The ending of Sky is also deeply satisfying. While the climax did feel a little rushed, it brought the story to a close on a reasonably hopeful note. While it was by no means final, it nicely wrapped up this stage of Mouse’s journey and left it quite clear where her adventures had to take her next book. In this regard, I think that Driver has paced her overarching plot quite well. While a lot of loose ends are tied up within Sky, I’m curious to read on to discover what the true nature of the legendary crown is.

In terms of characterisation, I did feel that this novel was a bit mixed. The best character is still Mouse. As the narrator of the story, she gets the most focus and its clear that she really is learning from her mistakes. While we saw her starting to grow a bit more trusting in Sea, in this story she’s forced to put the past behind her and accept that the people who have wronged her in the past (particularly Crow) are capable of changing. In terms of the bigger picture, this means putting aside her deep-seated prejudices about the other tribes and seeing that good and bad people exist in every society.

The other character that I thought was fantastic was Kestrel. As the first member of the Sky Tribe to join Mouse’s crew, Kestrel provides a different kind of strength to the party. While Mouse is brave and fiery, Kestrel is nurturing and calm. She is a far more serene character than Mouse, with her greatest character development coming as she gains the courage to stand up to her tyrannical mother. Kestrel is also the trilogy’s first openly gay character, which made her a really welcome addition to the cast.

However, the male characters in the story still don’t fair quite as well. While we do learn a little more about both Stag and Crow in this story, neither seem to be written with the same level of care as the female cast. Stag is still a completely unrepentant villain, while Crow is just a bit forgettable. He’s always present, but doesn’t really contribute much to the group. Similar Yapok, a new character in this story, gets most of his character development off-page. While he is standoffish when Mouse first meets him, he completely changes personality between chapters and becomes a staunch ally before the novel is done.

So, I think I’ve said enough. All in all, I didn’t enjoy this novel quite as much as Sea but it’s certainly not without its charms. The setting is very imaginative and I am curious to see how the story will conclude. I will certainly be picking up a copy of Storm when it is released next year.

Sky can be purchased as a Paperback and eBook

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Storm | Arkham Reviews

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