I have read the book “The Ghost Drum” by the author Susan Price. The book was in 214 pages, with small letters and no illustrations. It was published i 1987.
The cover illustration is by Alan Baker.
Susan Price was born in Dudley in 1955. She hated school and says, “the least said about my time there, the better”. She is a full time writer, and loves her job.
Susan has won many awards for her writing: The Other Award, 1974 for Twopence a Tub; The Carnegie Medal, 1987 for The Ghost Drum; and The Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, 1999 for The Sterkarm Handshake.
Every chapter of the book starts with a grey cat, walking round and round a tree it is chained to, and tells its story.
In a country far far north, they have Czars and Czaritsas, instead of kings and queens. The Czar in the books name was Czar Guidon, and he was a cruel an horrible Czar. He treated his people very bad, and made the people who livd in his castle’s life miserable.
He had many servants, and he got a child with one of them. The Czar got afraid that maybe his son would steal the throne, so he put him in a small round room with no windows, heavily guarded. The boys name was Safa Czarevich (instead of prince).
At the same time in the same country, a witch was training her daughter to be a witch too.
These two lived in a weird house which stood on chicken legs, and could walk by it self. The house was of tree and it was very big.
After several years of learning word magic, drum magic, song magic, animal magic and so on, her daughter named Chingis became a very gifted witch. Their magic were based on a drumt and an alfabet, which noone other than tem could learn.
She decided to go get the poor Czarevich and make him her own son. So she went to the castle and made herself invisible by drumming her ghost drum, and sneaked in to Safa and brought him with her.
After some years, Chingis had found out that Safa couldn’t learn any magic, because that he had lived his whole life in a small room.
Chingis didn’t care, and took care of the boy.
After this, Safa’s aunt, Margaretta took over the throne. When she found out that the Czarevich was gone, she sent out a Shaman and some soldiers to go get him.
In the woods in the country, there lived outlaws. They were poor, and the had a famine. Chingis decided to help these people, and sent Safa to go give them food.
The Shaman saw this in his Shaman Mirror, and went to kill the little boy.
It became a long and hard fight.
The beginning was a description of the tree the storytelling cat walks around and how the cat is:
“In a place far distand from where you are now grows an oak-tree by a lake.
Round the oak’s trunk is a chain of golden links.
Tethered to the chain is a learned cat, and this most learned of all cats walks round and round the tree continually.
As it walks one way, it sings songs.
As it walks the other, it tells stories.
This is one of the stories the cat tells.”
Chingis was a tall, dark haired woman. She wore an embrodiered coat in many colors, and a big weird hat. She was a very good witch, and was very mighty. She had much knowledge of the magic, and was a master of using the drum.
Safa was the son of the Czar. He was kept in a little room in the Czars castle for many years, before Chingis came and found him.
He was small and big boned. He couldn’t take any knowledge to him, because he had a sort of handicap after he had stayed in the little room for so long.
After the Czar died, his sister Margaretta became Czaritsa. She was tall and thin, and had blue hair. She was cruel, and wanted to have her nephew back. She hired a shaman and some soldiers to go get him.
The House on Chicken Legs