The Northlands are dying…
A great and powerful Czar, to prove he is a great and powerful Czar, needs fur to wear and to give as gifts. He needs timber to build palaces, churches, ships.
So the Czar sends his men to the Northlands, to strip them of animals, fish, timber…
The young witch, Shingebiss, pleads with her ancient grandmother to save the land. She begs her to 'spell the Czar,' to enter his dreams and control him, and so save the Northlands. But her grandmother refuses.
The old shaman sighed with a sound like sheets tearing. 'All things must change, all things must die. I will not speak one word or sing one note to stop it.’
After her Grandmother’s death, Shingebiss travels the many miles to the Imperial City, to try and ‘spell the Czar’ herself, even though she has not yet walked in the Ghost World and so is only a witch, and not a shaman.
But the Czar is mad – his mind ‘like a broken mirror, reflecting many things and all crookedly.’
Fearing death, he keeps an English wizard, Master Jenkins, at his court. The wizard summons up a demon before the terrified Czar, who flees. But Jenkins is an imposter. The demon is his slave-boy, Christian, in disguise.
When Shingebiss, with her true magic, arrives at court, the Czar takes her for an angel, sent to him as a gift from God. With her dark colouring, she becomes 'The Czar's Black Angel.'
The English wizard, fearful of losing the Czar's favour, becomes Shingebiss' deadly enemy. He tells the Czar that spirits have taught him how to make an Elixir of Immortality. He already has one of the ingredients: the blood of a Christian boy born on Christmas Day. The ingredient he lacks is, the blood of an angel.
This, he tells the Czar, is why God sent you the angel.
The Czar fears death even more than he loves his angel. He orders Master Jenkins to make the Elixir.
Can Shingebiss save herself and the innocent Christian from the fear, jealousy and hatred at the Czar's court?
The third book in the Ghost World Sequence, Ghost Dance is set in the same cruel fairy-tale world of ice and darkness as the previous books, Ghost Drum and Ghost Song.
Ghost Dance is the most dark and sinister fantasy of the three. Not for the faint-hearted.
In Ghost Dance, Price transports us to the palace of a Czar whose avarice and suspicion are destroying the beautiful Northlands... Here again, the complete seriousness and integrity of the writing makes for a quietly terrifying read. Highly recommended. Guinevere Vaughan
This third book of the sequence is still rich and deeply powerful. It’s full of the physical awfulness of human existence and human fears and the magic of storytelling which veers between the safe and the dangerous, the fascinating and the uncomfortable. Books For Keeps