Sunday, January 24, 2010

Book Review: Hush: An Irish Princess' Tale by Donna Jo Napoli

Review: Hush: An Irish Princess’ Tale
Author: Donna Jo Napoli
No. Of Pages: 340
Release Date: 21 October 2008


Melkorka is an Irish Princess, the first daughter of a magnificent kingdom – but this all changes the day she is kidnapped and taken aboard a marauding slave ship. Trapped in a world both unfamiliar and cruel, Melkorka finds that her powerlessness gives her clarity. That she is master of what she says. Choosing to take a vow of silence, Melkorka becomes an object of fascination to her captors. And then she realizes that any power, no matter how little, can make a difference.

My Thoughts:

The synopsis promises such an adventurous tale. It lied.

Hush is based on a Scandinavian story about a slave who wouldn’t talk, when she was finally overheard speaking Gaelic to her two year old son one day and asked of her story she told her master that she was an Irish princess before her captor, this is where Hush stems from, her journey into slavery.

I’m still having mixed feelings about Hush. Melkorka isn’t a strong character at all, she is a brat in my opinion. Her eight year old sister Brigid was a better character, pity she only stayed for the first half.

The book was made up of three parts, part one was in Ireland or Eire as the book refers to it, the second is on the boat of her first captor, the third on the boat of the man who buys her.

There is a clear difference in the quality of the story during the three parts. The first part of the story I was completely disappointed in, the writing was poor and disjointed. The timeline wasn’t clearly expressed so we were jumping erratic periods of time with no notice, it was only until you had to re-read and work out that you were a month or a week ahead.

The second part of the story was better written, like the author walked away for a few years and came back after writing more novels so had a bit more of a grip on her writing. By the time we got to the third part, which I had to force myself to get to, the story picked up and completely engrossed me because I had to know what happened.

Melkorka like I said was portrayed as a weak brat. She’s a fifteen year old princess (which is considered old enough for the time) who doesn’t have a brain in her head. Her eight year old sister was a wonderful character for the time she spent in the pages of the book, Brigid was smart, compassionate, quick-witted and resourceful. Melkorka on the other hand is the complete opposite, she really isn’t a likeable character. It took her until the third part of the book until she accepted being a slave and started acting like one, instead of a princess. Fair enough that she grew up as a princess but letting the other slaves wash you on a ship? That’s a bit much in my opinion.

Even the Hush bit, the whole point of the story wasn’t her idea, it was Brigid’s, and when Brigid left the story it was another slave that told her to keep her mouth shut.

This story didn’t take me on a journey which I thought might happen, because I adore novels about the old sailing ships of which this novel was primarily set on.

It was the other characters that made this story for me. Brigid in particular, if there were a story about Brigid I would definitely read it. Maeve, one of the slaves was another interesting character, she is a mystery, she knows so much about all of the countries they go to and is quick witted. Gilli, or Clay Man as Melkorka refers to him, is another good character, he is the one who originally kidnaps her, and it is interesting to read about his suspicions of Melkorka.

So overall when I sum up the story in my head, it isn’t a memorable one, but the secondary characters make it interesting and worth the read.


Teddyree said...

Sorry this one was a disappointment, I hadn't heard of it until seeing your review!

PS There’s an award waiting for you at my place The Eclectic Reader

Wings said...

yeah i thought it was going to be good...sad really

ParaJunkee said...

This sounded good. i really like the cover also. Wow two disappointing books reviews in a row. Not good. - Parajunkee

Lea said...

Jeez, good thing I read this review. I've been debating whether or not to check this one out of the library. But, it doesn't really sound like my type of story

Thanks for the honest review :)


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