Saturday, August 23, 2008
Hush, by Donna Jo Napoli
In this sprawling epic, based loosely on a real Irish princess of the Tenth Century, Melkorka goes from Ireland to captivity as a slave in Russia to a new life in Iceland -- a grand journey indeed! But she is also an unusual heroine: finding strength (and her "voice") through silence even as she loses everything around her that she values and everyone that she loves.
Napoli continues to be one of the strongest writers of YA historical fiction (and also myth/fairy tale retellings), combining rich details about the epoch and its customs with good storytelling. While this particular novel never really rises above the genre to make a significant point, it is an entertaining read and an engrossing story. As fair warning, the events in this novel may be a bit intense for younger readers, but even at those moments, Napoli is never exploitative.