Review: Eagle Drums by Nasuġraq Rainey Hopson

Eagle Drums by Nasugraq Rainey Hopson

Eagle Drums
Nasuġraq Rainey Hopson
Roaring Brook Press
Published September 12, 2023

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About Eagle Drums

A magical realistic middle grade debut about the origin story of the Iñupiaq Messenger Feast, a Native Alaskan tradition.

As his family prepares for winter, a young, skilled hunter must travel up the mountain to collect obsidian for knapping―the same mountain where his two older brothers died.

When he reaches the mountaintop, he is immediately confronted by a terrifying eagle god named Savik. Savik gives the boy a follow me or die like your brothers.

What comes next is a harrowing journey to the home of the eagle gods and unexpected lessons on the natural world, the past that shapes us, and the community that binds us.

Eagle Drums by Nasuġraq Rainey Hopson is part cultural folklore, part origin myth about the Messenger’s Feast – which is still celebrated in times of bounty among the Iñupiaq. It’s the story of how Iñupiaq people were given the gift of music, song, dance, community, and everlasting tradition.

Eagle Drums on Goodreads

My Review

I loved the writing style of this book. It reads like a folk tale, with straightforward descriptions and a focus on Piŋa’s family’s traditions and ways of life, and a lyrical feel to it, too. The story follows a boy named Piŋa whose family has lost two sons, both while they were away hunting for the family. He and his parents grieve for that loss, and it still feels very fresh.

When Piŋa goes with the eagle god, he worries his parents will assume he has met the same fate as his brothers, and the drive to get home to them helps keep him going as he faces tasks and challenges set out by his host. Piŋa is an easy character to root for. He does his best to be a good son, and he gets frustrated when he can’t master a new task as quickly as he wants to. Super relatable.

I can definitely see this book appealing to modern audiences and readers who enjoy folktales or historical fiction as well. I think the narrative balances the expectations of young readers and the preservation of folk-style storytelling really well.

Eagle Drums on Bookshop

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 8 to 12.

Major characters are Native Alaskan, Iñupiaq.

Profanity/Crude Language Content

Romance/Sexual Content

Spiritual Content
The main character, Piŋa, meets an eagle god and the god’s family.

Violent Content
Piŋa learns that the eagle god killed both his brothers.

Drug Content

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog. I received a free copy of EAGLE DRUMS in exchange for my honest review. All opinions my own.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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