cover image The Abduction

The Abduction

Mettie Newth / Author, Mette Newth / Author, Steve Murray / Translator
In a thought-provoking note, Newth points out that this ``story of a clash of cultures . . . is equally a meeting of reason and unreason. . . . Unreason always wants to use power to enforce injustice.'' This comment, placed sagely as an afterword, can have no better illustration than the moving narrative that precedes it. There are two intertwining stories here, both set in the 17th century. The first is of Osuqo, an Inuit girl who is abducted--with Poq, the boy she is to marry--by foreigners; they are taken from Greenland to Vagen in Norway, where they are debased, treated as animals, then as creatures of Satan, by power-hungry merchant Master Mowinkel and evil Pastor Absalon. The second narrative tells of Christine, whose father fails to return from the voyage during which Usuqo and Poq were captured. She and her mother are forced into servitude in the Mowinkel household, where Christine is made to guard the foreigners. With nothing (except her life) to lose, Christine finds freedom in her decision to help Henrik, Mowinkel's son, in his plan to help the two Inuit escape. Newth has utilized ships' logs and the centuries-old oral tradition of the Inuit in creating a chilling tale of xenophobia and its cruel cost to humanity. Yet this ably translated, thoughtful work is also inspiring: the stain of slavery blots the history of many nations, and Newth provides a fresh perspective from which to consider the ``clash of cultures.'' Ages 12-up. (Oct.)