GHOST SONG by Susan Price
Kirkus Star


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Do you remember, asks the narrator-cat here, winding its golden chain around the tree, how the jealous shaman Kuzma killed the witch Chingis, and in the end spent his days as a hammer, pounding an anvil? That was another tale (Ghost Drum, 1987). Here, Kuzma (with ""Loki's heart in his breast"") claims as his apprentice Ambrosi, born ""sable, snow and blood,"" as his trapper father, Malyuta (slave to the czar), wished. But though Kuzma woos him in dreams and his extraordinary storytelling gift marks him as a born shaman, Ambrosi refuses to answer Kuzma's call. Meanwhile, Kuzma curses a tribe of the reindeer people (Lapps), transforming them into wolves who kill Malyuta, thus luring Ambrosi into the Ghost World to release Malyuta's spirit and break the spell on the few surviving Lapps. Still, Ambrosi refuses to he Kuzma's apprentice, choosing instead to remain in the Ghost World. Price's language retains the power and poetry of the earlier story, which won a Carnegie. But if Ghost Drum was a mosaic of jagged passions picked out in gold and vivid color, this is a starkly mythic tale in midnight black, icy white, and blood-red. Powerful, amoral, and capricious, Kuzma is thwarted by Ambrosi's native integrity and his love for his father, but there's little hint here of redemption. A dark, enigmatic tale, product of a powerful imagination.

Pub Date: Sept. 30th, 1992
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: "Farrar, Straus & Giroux"