The Drums of Legenderry by John Orlando

The Drums of Legenderry
John Orlando
Legenderry.com, 2007
154 pages

This is a peculiar little collection of stories for adolescent readers (and I mean peculiar as a very good thing!). They center around the adventures of the Rhythm Maiden, a river spirit, and her family, some of whom travel quite a ways away in their journeying. It’s a mythos created by the author, but in the grand tradition of complex mythologies that include a good deal of symbolism, as well as the ability to carry cultural values and teachings. The stories are set in a faerie-tinged fantasy world where magic is as common as the air you breathe–but has consequences as well!

The rhythm of the stories, if you will, reminds me very much of mythologies from cultures where the oral tradition is the primary form of communication. This sometimes makes them a little odd to read, particularly when it comes to the dialogue between characters. However, when read aloud, the cadence makes a lot more sense (which also makes subsequent reading better as well). While the book is meant for middle-grade readers, most of them could be told to younger children as well (there are a few with a bit of material, such as allusions to domestic abuse, that may be a bit much for the really young ones). I could see this being a neat book for a story time at pagan events–or in the pagan home with children. And, as an adult, I found the stories to be an excellent break from the more serious nonfiction reading I do for school and so forth!

I think my only real criticism of the book is that it could have used an extra pair of eyes to edit it. There are a few inconsistencies here and there–a mammoth being referred to as both he/him and it in the same paragraph, and a character’s name being spelled both Pika and Pica (a typo, perhaps?) Also, a few places the writing seemed a bit rough around the edges, even in the oral retelling, though this may be stylistic preferences on my part.

Still, I can see this being a wonderful addition to just about any pagan library, whether there are children or not. Storytellers in general may want to take a look at this text, as should those who like to receive a good story as well.

Five pawprints out of five.

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