________________ CM . . . . Volume IV Number 6 . . . . November 14, 1997

cover Draugr.

Arthur G. Slade.
Victoria, BC: Orca Book Publishers, 1997.
172pp., paper, $7.95.
ISBN 1-55143-094-0.

Subject Headings:
Ghost stories.
Zombies-Juvenile fiction.
Icelanders-Canada-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 6 - 9 / Ages 11 - 14.
Review by Mary Thomas.

*** /4


draugr [draw-gur] m. 'undead' man, ghost (Old Norse)

Grandpa opened his eyes again, still staring into the distance. "Borth was a strong youth, he could outwrestle many of the men in the valley and he loved fighting. His mother died giving birth to him and from that day forward he carried harmathr - bad luck. If he walked by your house, your cows would run loose, your food would burn in the oven; women would prick their thumbs if he entered a room as they were sewing. He used to hit me as if I were nothing more than a bag of flour. No one had any love for Borth.

"One day in December I murdered him."

Sarah Amundsen, her twin Michael and cousin Angie had come to Gimli, a centre of Icelandic settlement in Manitoba, to stay with their grandfather for a couple of weeks of their summer vacation. Grandpa was famous for his stories, especially scary ones, but this one was different. It was real!

So began the teenagers' encounter with this draugr, and the son of the draugr, with the ghost of a boy who had been spirited away from a picnic one summer's day forty years ago - with evil personified. It is not a totally coherant narrative, and it relies too much on clues derived from 'gut feelings', but it is grippingly written. Readers will race from page to page, especially during the youngsters' first meetings with the undead. As the book wears on to its inevitable happy ending and the laying of the ghosts, the tension wanes somewhat, but still Draugr is definitely a higher class example of the horror genre that has so grabbed the present generation of young readers. And the bits of Norse mythology which are included are fascinating!


Having started her working life as a chemist, Mary Thomas took the opportunity of a parenthood break to switch to a career in Kiddie Lit, first by selling children's books, and now is a library technician, working in two very different Winnipeg schools.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © 1997 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364