A review by colleenf
Demon Drums by Carol Severance


I found this on a reading list on Tamora Pierce's website about fantasy set in worlds with cultures other than western Europe, and this series was one of the view to show up as availible on my Kindle. I knew nothing of this series but decided to jump in and buy it anyways---it's hard to find anywhere online or in book stores. I was disappointed after finnishing, but that was partially because I had come directly off of Tamora Pierce's books, and she is one of my favorite authors. I expected amazing, and it didn't live up. But I feel much fonder towards the novel looking back on it now.
I found Carol Severance's writing to be a bit dry, and the storyline was confusing, but the setting and characters were solid. Itui is a great protagonist-- for one thing, she is a very strong woman in her own right, without any need to prove herself to a man, which I find incredibly cliche and annoying. She is a hardened warrior who clearly suffers from PTSD, which is otherwise seen as taboo in fantasy. Tarawe, the other lead character is a clear contrast with Itui. She is young and open-minded and cheerful, until war strikes and scars her as well. She can be easily seen as a younger Itui, and their relationship is probably the novel's strongest point. Ma'eva, the male lead and comic relief, is also a profound character in his own right, far more than just a shape-shifting clown.
The world that the novel is set in is vastly different than the mostly western European setting that most fantasy is set in as well---which is what attracted me to this book in the first place. I have never been to Hawaii, but the world in this novel seems convincing enough to me. No simple hulas and luaus here, but magical chats and terrifying villains who control others by beating drums made of human skin. The world of Demon Drums is bright and colorful and beautiful and dangerous.

Unfortuantely, however, the plot was not structured well for me. Halfway through the book I was confused to where everything was going, and had to check to make sure that I wasn't reading the second book of the trilogy by accident. Itui battles an evil sorceress, escapes, finds danger, escapes, finds more danger, etc. until a final battle with some enemies from said adventures, and a sequel hook. I do not believe there are any spoilers in there. However, I considered the setting worth exploring and the characters worth following, so this didn't matter to me. However, if you like a strong storyline that moves at a consistant pace, this book isn't for you.

Mildly reccomended.