________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 14. . . .December 4, 2015


Blood Oath.

Don Cummer.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2015.
231 pp., trade pbk., epub & Apple ed., $7.99 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4431-3910-6 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4431-3911-3 (epub), ISBN 978-1-4431-4674-6 (Apple ed.).

Subject Heading:
Canada-History-War of 1812-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Libby McKeever.

**** /4



Fffft…bang! And he goes down into the ferns. I’ve hit someone! Nobody else’s shooting in this bayonet charge, so it must have been me. A cheer goes up from our boys… It’s hard for me to keep up ‘cause I’m trying to reload. Some skinny feller comes back to help the wounded one. If I can finish loading. I’ll be able to pop him too – we’re getting close.


The blue line comes fast at us through the trees. I lean Mountain Lion against a beech, slip my musket off my shoulder and take a quick shot at the enemy. One bullet won't stop that attack but the smoke my hide us for a moment.

… Another bullet whizzes by my ear and thuds into the tree ahead of me.


“Take care” and “come back safe”. These are the parting words Jake and his father exchange whenever Mr. Gibson leaves on forays to protect Fort George. Jake feels ineffectual as all the able-bodied men are fighting. His task though, one he promised his father he would do without fail, is to protect his stepmother and sisters.

     But Jake is haunted. During the day, it is his inability to tell his father the truth; that he was the one who helped Eli escape. And at night, by dreams of battles and the image of his father dying because of Jake’s act of treason. Either way, Jake feels caught, and when his secret is discovered, revealed by their old enemies William and Henry, his father is devastated. The only way Jake feels he can win back his father’s love is by redemption. This will mean putting himself in the middle of the action, and so he volunteers to run messages between Captain Norton and Captain Ducharme. In doing so, both Jake and his faithful dog Ginger are almost killed by an American soldier. What Jake doesn’t realize is that the soldier was Eli.

     In Blood Oath, Cummer paints a realistic picture of how Eli and Jake’s sworn brotherhood is tested time and time again during the early summer of 1813. Eli is fighting for the Americans, and, as they make a final push against the British or “lobsterbacks”, determined to break them, Jake yet again is drawn into the fight. Told in the alternating voices of Eli and Jake, Blood Oath is a terrific, fast moving tale that takes the reader to the final series of battles which almost cost Canada the War of 1812. Readers will despair when Mr. Wilcox switches allegiances, they will smile at Eli’s fondness for Georgina, marvel when Jake stumbles upon Mrs. Laura Secord in the woods, and be horrified when Henry insults Eli’s sister, Mina, and is challenged to a duel. When Henry and Eli’s face each other with pistols at dawn, it is Jake who throws himself into the fray at the very moment before the first shot is fired. A gun is fired, and Jake collapses. This is one of the final scenes in the book, and it’s an example of the roller coaster ride readers will enjoy as they join Eli and Jake in this action packed story.

     Blood Oath is the third book in Don Cummer’s War of 1812 series, and readers who have anticipated this novel will not be disappointed. Cummer’s characters have deepened as they’ve grown older, and complicated plot twists keep the story moving at a good clip. This series of novels is very engaging and would be an asset to those teaching and learning about this exciting period of Canada’s history.

     Don Cummer’s short story, “The Burying Grounds” won The Writers' Union of Canada Writing for Children Competition in 2012. Brothers at War and A Hanging Offense are companion novels to Blood Oath.

Highly Recommended.

Libby McKeever is the Youth Services Librarian at the Whistler Public Library in Whistler, BC.

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

Copyright © 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
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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