The Ghost Drum

by Susan Price
Release date: 1987
Type: speculative fiction
Genres: fantasy, young adult
Tags: carnegie medal

‘My story is set (says the cat) in a far-away Czardom, where the winter is a cold half-year of darkness.

'In that country the snow falls deep and lies long, lies and freezes until bears can walk on its thick crust of ice. The ice glitters on the snow like white stars in a white sky!... the winter is one long night, and all that long night long the sky-stars glisten in their darkness, and the snow-stars glitter in their whiteness, and between the two there hangs a shivering curtain of cold twilight.’

So begins THE GHOST DRUM, which won the Carnegie Medal in 1987, but has long been out of print and unavailable to its many fans.

The first of four books set in the Ghost World, it tells of a dark, frozen Czardom, of slaves and the Imperial Court, of witches, ghosts and shape-changers. The baby girl born to a slave-woman is carried away by ‘a night-visiting witch’ and raised as a shaman, one who can ‘follow the dead to their world.’ The son born to the terrifying Czar Guidon is imprisoned for life at the top of the palace’s tallest tower.

In the frozen wilderness the slave-baby, now full-grown and ‘a Woman of Power’ hears the despairing cries of the Czarevich’s spirit from his prison. She determines to save him, and sets out to find him in her living hut, which runs on chicken legs. To save the Czarevich, she must battle Imperial power with the power of her Ghost Drum.

Recommended to all lovers of folklore and fantasy. A Carnegie Medal winner.

(updated 2015-01-07)

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