THE GHOST DRUM
The Ghost Drum: Book 1 of The Ghost World Sequence
Winner of the prestigious Carnegie Medal
In the freezing, endless darkness of a northern Midwinter, a shaman knocks at the door of a tiny wooden house where a slave-woman has given birth to a baby girl. When the shaman leaves, in her magical house that walks on chicken legs, she carries the baby with her.
The Czar of this frozen land, terrified that his new-born baby son will one day take his throne, imprisons the child, for ever, in a tiny room at the top of the royal palace’s highest tower.
Chingis, the slave’s daughter, is raised and trained by the shaman who took her, and learns the ways to and from the Land of the Dead. In her dreams she hears the crying of Prince Safa, lonely and half-mad in his imprisonment.
She frees him – but in doing so, challenges powerful enemies.
The Imperial Princess Margaretta moves to ensure that no rivals are left to the throne she has seized.
The bear-shaman, Kuzma, the harvester of the ice-apples, is jealous of the new young witch and lends his powers to Margaretta.
Against a setting of Artic cold, darkness, starlight and the brilliant jewel colours of folk-art, this is a fantastical, cruel fairy-tale of shamans, shape-shifters, battles of magic, peasants and kings.
Chingis, the slave’s daughter, and Safa, the princeling, both long for the freedom to live in their own way, but can they survive the malice of their vicious enemies?
Can Chingis’ shaman training help her to save Safa from execution for treason? Can her fierce will to survive enable her to find her way back from Iron Wood in the Land of the Dead?
'A find for lovers of folklore and fantasy.'
The Kirkus Review
'Price provides an icy, intense setting for her fantasy, which haunts almost as much as her unique characters. When she describes how, “the sky stars glitter in their darkness, and the snow-stars glisten in their whiteness, and between the two there hangs a shivering curtain of cold twilight,” readers will know they are in the palm of a writer whose magical eye for detail matches her ability to draw a story sweeping in scope.'
'A spell is indeed cast over the reader: ‘Words can alter sight and hearing, taste, touch and smell. Used with a higher skill they can make our senses clearer.’ Susan Price is happily blessed with this higher skill; it is the clarity of her prose which particularly impresses. It is difficult for an individual to attempt a form sharpened and clarified by generations of story tellers – a folk tale brightens with use and all the extraneous material wears away over the years. There is nothing out of place in THE GHOST DRUM: as in a spell every word counts: ‘The alphabet in the book spells out words you can say, but the alphabet in the drum spells out things that can never be said.’ The reverberations of this new-minted myth continue to echo after the story’s finished.'
The first chapter of this book can be read here.
A review of this book can be read here, at Indie e-book reviews.
Susan Price is an acclaimed author of over 60 books, which have been translated into many languages, including Japanese, Chinese and Russian. She has written for almost every age-group, and has won several awards, including the Carnegie and the Guardian, and has been short-listed for the Whitbread.