From School Library Journal
Set in tenth-century Denmark and its environs, "Hidden "follows the fortunes of Brigid, sister of Melkorka, the main character of Napoli's "Hush: An Irish Princess' Tale. "Unlike Melkorka, Brigid escapes from the Russian slaver who has abducted them, taking refuge first with a family in northern Jutland; then with Astrid and Beorn, a former slave and her new husband; and finally with a queen and king in Jutland's main trading center. Now known as Alfhild (or "elf battle," for her seemingly otherworldly arrival and strong, upstart nature), Brigid becomes a competent sailor and archer; eventually, despite the love she bears her foster families and suitor, she heads out to search for news of her sister. She and her crew of women become notorious pirates (Napoli was inspired by the story of Alfhild, the first Norse woman pirate), roaming the Baltic and freeing those captured by slavers and returning them to their families. This is a warm-hearted, adventure-filled romp, steadied and enriched by enough historical underpinnings that it treads the fine line between historical fiction and romantic fantasy with aplomb. Napoli's portrayals of Norse language and culture, cultural assimilation and the slave trade, and sisterly loyalty contribute equally to the story's entertainment value.--Horn Book Magazine "January/February 2015 "
In this companion novel to the poetic and haunting "Hush: An Irish Princess Tale "(BCCB 3/08), the younger sister of Melkorka, that book's protagonist, gets full focus. Brigid is fiery and outspoken, even at eight, when she escapes from slavers, loses her sister and her comfy royal life in Ireland, and finds herself truly alone in a region far from home. She wanders, always with the goal that she will find her beloved sister and reunite her family, but she's also trying to pick up skills, comfort, and knowledge along the way. Brigid quickly determines that pretending to be of Norse origin is much smarter than being her Irish self, so she adapts and prevari- cates, remaking herself as Alfhild, the perhaps elf, perhaps slave, perhaps orphan child who fits herself where she can in various Nordic communities. The pace is languid on occasion, particularly in the middle chapters as Alfhild grows from child to teen, but it picks up considerably toward the end, as chapters involving bold rescues and female pirates are wont to. There is a dramatic spareness to the first-person narration: Alfhild remains in many ways a child despite her advancing age, and her understanding of the world is authentically rather limited, given her life circumstances. The reader will likely spot places where Alfhild's perspective on a situation is incorrect or too harsh, and she must figure out the more accurate reality. Extensive end matter explains the bits of truth, myth, legend, and fiction that all went into making these characters, particularly the memorable Brigid/ Alfhild, whose unwavering determination propels her through joy and tragedy with equal steel, almost costing her moments of beauty because she is so focused on whatever comes next. A glossary, an author's note explaining the history, and a bibliography are appended.--Bulletin "March 2015 "