The Ghost Drum

A 'modern classic.'      

Winner of the Carnegie Medal. 







"Whenever you poke your nose round the door,

pack courage, and leave fear at home."

The Ghost Drum is a cruel fairy-tale of shamans, shape-shifters, magic-battles, slaves and kings, set against darkness, Arctic cold, starlight and the brilliant jewel colours of folk-art.
      On a Midwinter night, a shaman demands a new-born baby girl from her slave-mother - and carries the child away in a hut that stalks across the snow on chicken legs.
       The new-born son of the Czar is imprisoned, for life, in a tiny room at the top of a tall tower - because the Czar is afraid his son might outdo him.
       The slave’s daughter, and the princeling, both long for the freedom to live in their own way, but their search for freedom earns them vicious enemies - the ruthless Princess Margaretta, and Kuzma, the bear-shaman.

Can the slave's-daughter and the prince survive?

A classic children's novel, winner of the prestigious Carnegie Medal, now available again in paperback.


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.
          Mary Cutler