Donna Jo Napoli writes stories based on fairy tales and this book is based on a story from an Icelandic saga about a girl named Melkorka who was bought by an Icelandic man named Hoskuld and takes her back to his home. In our book, Melkorka is an Irish princess who was kidnapped when trying to escape her town before the Vikings invaded. She is advised by another slave to pretend to be mute so that her pride and arrogance wouldn't end up getting her beaten or worse.
In the night someone rolls agains me as we lie sleeping. I open my eyes to see Maeve's eyes shining at me in the moonlight. "He's convinced you are an aist - a stork," she whispers. "A stork who has the power to chage form into a woman. He thinks you may be a charodeitsa - an enchantress, but unlike our Irish piseogai, he fears you could be evil. It's only how clean and pretty you are that keeps him from quaking."
Melkorka was sold by the Russian kidnappers to an Icelandic sailor named Hoskuld. She continues to learn about these hard, rough, people from the north and about herself in the process. Her intelligence serves her well by quickly picking up languages and knowledge about healing from another slave.
Life in these northern places was cold, dark, and cruel. By following Melkorka on her voyage we learn about these early civilizations. She was a remarkable girl who wisely used her wits to stay alive. I recommend this book to historical fiction fans.
My rating for this book: ++++