Review | Kevin J. Anderson and Neil Peart – Drumbeats

Dutch translation by Ronald van Dalfsen - Ahvô Braiths publishing

It took me forever to write this review. Finished the interview back then, I immediately took the book to heart for a read. With my English version shelved the Dutch translation proves to be on the mark. As difficult it might seem to lift typical saying of a language into consideration and convey them to another language without losing the finesses of its initial message, it becomes clear reading that Van Dalfsen catches the story’s texture and deeper (underlying) content. A craft he displays again conveying Kevin Anderson’s foreword and the story told afterword by Neil Peart himself. He catches the fine lining in a natural way. Comparing the English and Dutch version, the translation shines.


‘Drumbeats’ itself tells the story of American drummer Danny Imbro. With his band Blitzkrieg put on ice he decides to take his bike to empty his mind travelling Cameroon. 

Fans of Neil’s band Rush the setting of this story will certainly evoke memories of their favorite stickman taking leave upon the tragedies struck in the late 90s with Neil Peart losing his 19-year-old daughter Selena in a car accident followed only 10 months later burying his wife Jacqueline after losing her battle with cancer. The tragedy gutted Neil Peart who took to Africa for a healing trip by bike he journaled in his book ‘Ghost Ride – Travels on the Healing Roads’. Subsequently, the book inevitably is rooted in his first novel ‘The Masked Rider – Cycling in West Africa’ also taking place in Cameroon.

Not by chance Peart’s worldplay comes alive so vividly drawing up the story’s setting, perfectly matched by Anderson’s ability to imply macabre and sinister narratives inside. The short story certainly benefits from the collaboration creating an imaginative strong outline. 


Imbro’s long running tour with his band made available a rich and decadent lifestyle. Absorbed by the schedule and wealth he takes to Cameroon for his bike run seeking internal peace and finding self-reflection. Champagne and decadent behaviour amidst the poverty, embeds a snarling sub note. Things which are soon to change. 

Travelling the land and notices the relentless ponderous beat of a tribal drum. The mesmerizing and haunting beat impose feelings. The otherworldly power it vibrates across attracts out protagonist who soon finds himself in a search for its creator. When he finds the drum in a nearby village, things are rapidly changing when Imbro finds out more and more about the mysterious drum. 

The eerie sifts through and you feel connected to the personality of the main character as well as the tribesmen of the story right away. This connection injects varied outcomes on the reader, making the story a freight train running rampant. You can second-guess a variety of story content, you feel you are spot on in certain discoveries about the contents, yet the plot twists and leaves you baffled.


This being a short story of only 20+ pages, I won’t get into detail too much. It might ruin the experience of reading this horrific story and enjoying the imagery building inside. Painting perfect pictures, the story enrols its dark wonder and leaves the end open, without lacking a remarkable ending. It grips you and strangulates, but also leaves behind rather unfulfilled feelings. What will happen with Imbro? Can he overcome? Things that will trigger one’s imagination and nest inside. 

The forged comradery and long friendship between both artists is what makes for a great read. Both bring their typical finesse into play and this is all conveyed perfectly in our Dutch translation, with Van Dalfsen displaying a keen eye for detail presenting the story much ‘as is’. Illustrations are by Steve Otis.

Well done, must read!



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