Welcome to our Anniversary Blog by resident blogger Jake Hope. Jake will be reading and reviewing all of the past CILIP Carnegie Medal winning books during the anniversary year. We are also asking shadowers to "Adopt a Book" and join in reading and discussing the anniversary titles in their shadowing groups.
"Did the slave-woman dream (asks the cat) or did a witch truly take her baby? And, if a witch truly came, did the witch tell the truth, or did she take the baby, roast it, and eat it at a witchesâ€™ picnic? I shall think of the answers to these questions (says the cat) and while I am thinking, I shall tell of the Czar who rules this Czardom, the Great and Mighty, the Royal, the Compassionate, Czar Guidon."
Stories built around stories, create an utterly compelling framework as readers are introduce to a tale told by a wise, old cat. Chapters in the book are introduced and concluded by the cat who directly addresses readers, introducing key characters, settings and scenes.
A slave girl gives her baby daughter, Chingis, to be raised by a witch in the hope that she will become a person of power. The witch imparts to the girl her knowledge and allows her to use the eponymous ghost drum, an item that allows entry into many different worlds, including that of the dead, the ghost world.
Czar Guidon, the latest in a long line of tyrants, has married but is fearful that he will be usurped by his son. Although his wife, who had been locked in a tower, dies in childbirth, Czar Guidon’s son, Safa is nonetheless born, leading the Czar to make the decree that the boy should never be allowed to leave his room.
Tormented and isolated, Safa’s distress is recognised by Chingis who finds him and aids his eventual escape using the ghost drum. When the Czar dies, a struggle for power ensues between a shaman from the far North, Kuzma, and Safa who is the rightful air.