The Drums of Dundurn


Children - Mystery
173 Pages
Reviewed on 07/09/2020
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

The Drums of Dundurn is a historical mystery novel for children and preteens written by Kelly Evans. Nine-year-old Minnie wondered if her sister and Aunt Boo had heard the drumming which had kept her up most of the night. At first, it had frightened her, but then, the steadiness of the rhythm had become soothing, and seemed a natural part of the pantheon of summer noises: the frogs, the loons, and other wildlife found in nearby Lake Ontario. The three of them were sitting at the table in the nursery where they ate their meals. Her sister, Sophia, who was older by two years and seemed determined to make it feel more like twenty, assumed that Minnie was simply telling stories. Aunt Boo likewise seemed to frown upon what she considered fanciful at best or just telling tales. But Minnie knew she had heard it, and the thought of what the drumming might be occupied her thoughts throughout the long morning’s class with the sisters’ tutor.

Kelly Evans’ The Drums of Dundurn is a well-written and enthralling novel that blends history with fiction based on Dundurn Castle, where the story takes place in 1843 and the First Nations people who inhabited the area before it was colonized. Likewise, Minnie and Sophia MacNab were the daughters of Sir Alan MacNab who built the castle in the mid-1830s. Minnie’s meeting and subsequent friendship with Miigwaans, a young Anishinaabe boy who had lived in the area, is fascinating, and the reader vicariously learns about the herbs that grew wild in the area and how they were used by the First Nations people. Readers will no doubt also find the constant harping on Minnie to be a proper young lady to be as stifling as Minnie herself considered it. The Drums of Dundurn combines a grand paranormal story and a mystery-adventure set in Ontario in the 1800s. Evans’ characters are well-defined and credible, and the plot is solid and entertaining. The Drums of Dundurn is most highly recommended.

Debby E

I thoroughly enjoyed the Drums of Dundurn. The way the story was written reminded me of The Secret Garden. Young Minnie, at a tender age, learns about the plants growing in the gardens of Dundurn which becomes useful as she is soon engaged in a mystery from times past of the Anishinaabeg tribe who lived on the land. The suspenseful way the mystery unfolds, with Minnie only receiving clues while she sleeps, kept the pages turning fast. The imagery of the castle and the grounds provided an excellent backdrop for the story. And what a pleasant surprise at the end of the book to learn that the characters were based on a real family who lived at Dundurn in the 1800s, one of which is a descendent of Camila Parker-Bowles!