In the 900's, Melkorka, a 15 year-old princess of Downpatrick, Ireland, begs to visit predominantly Norse Dublin for her birthday. She explores the streets with her 8 year-old sister, Brigid, until something terrible happens to their brother, Nuanda, immediately sending the whole family back home.
Seeking revenge for his son's misfortune, King Myrkjartan, plans to restore his family's honor. The King and Queen send Melkorka and Brigid to another village for safety but on their journey, the girls are abducted by Russian slave merchants.
Through brutal treatment and humiliations a princess should never endure, Melkorka stays silent. In a time full of superstition and belief in magic, Melkorka's silence leads her captors to believe she is a magical creature.
The beautiful young woman, who was once priveleged and a little spoiled, finds herself a slave on a journey halfway around the world. From unbearably hot Byzantium then on to Scandanavia where she is purchased by a Norse chieftain from Iceland, her journey is brutal and eye-opening. Always silent, she watches, listens, learns, and even manages to make a few friends.
Will Melkorka ever see her family or beloved Eire ever again? Or will she learn how to embrace her new life?
Based on the Iclandic Saga of the People of Laxardal, Donna Jo Napoli weaves her own tale of the Gaelic girl's unknown background. Although I'm not familiar with the saga, I found myself transported in the middle of the slave ship, inside the thoughts of Melkorka, where I learned right along with her.
"Hush" is a book filled with the myths, legends, and the life of slaves in Medieval Ireland, Byzantium, and the home of the Vikings.