Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Hush: An Irish Princess Story by Donna Jo Napoli

2 of 12 for the 2008 Young Adult Challenge

Melkorka. I love the name of the protagonist in this story of an Irish Princess. Melkorka's life as an Irish king's daughter changes in an instant when she is captured by slave traders heading east. based on an old Icelandic tale, Melkorka chooses to remain mute and her lack of speech sets her apart and gives Melkorka at least one advantage in her new, dangerous life.

Life as a slave in 9oo AD was not pretty, and Napoli doesn't make it out to be anything else. But despite the violence (including 2 intense but not graphic rape scenes) and backbreaking labor, Napoli also shines a light on the beauty of the era and lets us into Melkorka's thoughts as she meets people who teacher her, protect her and remind her that life is worth living. I appreciated how her attitudes and views about slaves and "heathens" shifted as she survives in her new role. She is portrayed as a defiant teenager in some ways, but also as a strong willed protector and friend.

I find this time period fascinating and the story takes you to many different lands - Ireland, Russia, Iceland - you really get a feel for how different these cultures were and how differently human life was regarded.

It was a bit cheesy on occasion and, for me, I would've liked a bit more of a romantic storyline. The end felt a slightly stiff and unresolved, but apparently she stuck close to the original story, so I can't blame her for that.

I probably wouldn't let my daughter read it until I felt she could handle the more mature subject matter, but for lovers of historical fiction - you should give this one a try.

1 comment:

Tricia said...

I've only read Zel by her, which I really liked. I need to read me some more Napoli!

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