It feels like this winter will never end. More snow today, and without the lovely pleasures of a snow day off from work and school, it just seems dreary. Even with my seven league snow boots, heading to the library isn’t as much fun as when the sun is shining and the birds are singing!
On top of the weather, I’ve been down with a cold. The good thing about colds is they get better with orange juice (liquid sunshine!), hot soup, and plenty of rest. And we all know that plenty of rest means plenty of reading time… 🙂
So I’ve been working my way through the stack of books at my bedside – and even re-reading a few favorites when I don’t feel up to a new book. (I still highly recommend Sorcery and Cecelia; or the Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Wrede and Stevermer for Austen fans and those young readers looking for something a little Potterish and yet different.)
I did finish both Ness’s More Than This and Napoli’s Hidden, among others. Both were enjoyable enough – the Ness more for its philosophical questions than for its plot – but both left me restless, wanting something more. When I finished Napoli’s Bound, I was a happy reader, satisfied by its rich retelling of the Cinderella story and historical details of ancient China. But Hidden?
Well, here’s my review:
While not as wonderful as Bound, there’s a lot to like in Hidden. Brigid, kidnapped by slavers with her older sister, escapes and finds herself in the Norse lands, far from her home in Eire. Though she does adapt to her new life, finding and leaving new families through her childhood, Brigid’s desire is always to find her sister and return to her homeland. Resourceful, clever, and fierce, Brigid gains love and shelter from peasants to kings. As she matures, there’s even a romance – but her heart is with her sister, and so Brigid escapes yet again, becoming a pirate and rescuing other captives bound for slavery.
The good? A strong female protagonist and plenty of rich historical detail about a time and place not often found in children’s books. The bad? As another reviewer mentioned, Brigid’s voice doesn’t change from eight to sixteen. Though she experiences significant emotional and spiritual growth, even becoming more Norse and less irish, Brigid’s voice never reflects that growth. Too, given her experiences as a child and an outsider, her trials don’t seem that traumatic. Everything seems to come right for Brigid fairly quickly, and she’s never actually injured or abused. Napoli considers this YA, but it reads more as middle grade.
Brigid’s adventures and and willingness to challenge others’ expectations and beliefs make this a good read, but it doesn’t measure up to some of Napoli’s other works.
And a last nitpick – I don’t think the cover does it justice. Evocative and intriguing, but lacking much connection to the wonderful Norse setting. (Not to mention that the girl’s dress appears to be chiffon – hardly an accurate depiction of the fabrics from the time period.)
Still, readers could do worse. Napoli’s historical novel was much more enjoyable than a few of the other books I read while tucked up in bed with ginger ale and tissues. Oh, you want to know about those books?
Sorry! If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything, right? But that’s what Goodreads is for…. 😉
P.S. Apologies to Adam Gidwitz for the play on his title. Now those are books worth reading!