Even before I began reading Jan Drexler’s “The Roll of the Drums”, I felt a personal connection with the story. It takes place in Millersburg, Ohio, in 1863, and I have been to nearby Berlin and Sugarcreek many times. This time period in American history is also one of my favorites to read about, and considering how the Civil War affected the Amish makes for an intriguing and enlightening story. Amish fiction can easily become formulaic and perhaps even stereotypical, but this second book in The Amish of Weaver’s Creek series impressed me with its originality and depth.
Despite not having yet read the first book, I had no trouble at all immersing myself in the story, which is something that I always appreciate. I also did not read the plot description because, in my opinion, these are usually too detailed and detract from the story by giving too much information up front. For me, this made the narrative more interesting and enjoyable as I tried to guess what would happen and how things would turn out. However, one of the beautiful elements of this book is that even if you do know some of the plot points going in, Drexler still manages to surprise readers with the intricacies of how everything plays out on the page.
To my knowledge, this is the first Amish novel I’ve read set during wartime. The Civil War backdrop adds so much dimension to “The Roll of the Drums”. Drexler demonstrates that even in what was considered safe Ohio, the war takes a toll, touching even the Amish. As non-resistors, it never occurred to me that the Amish would have any role in the military, but in this story, Gideon Fischer is haunted by his forced work for the army and the destruction of his former home in Maryland. He suffers from what we now recognize as PTSD, and it affects his way of life and his relationship with God. He questions, “But could a man, unless he was rebellious against God, ever be out of the Lord’s will? Could he fall out of his Lord’s sight, through no fault of his own?” Both he and Ruby Weaver must face the dark events in each of their pasts in order to move forward, just as well all must, and this makes the story so relatable for all readers. Because no matter what, if we accept Jesus’ precious gift of salvation and a relationship with Him, nothing can ever separate us from His love (Romans 8:38-39). One conversation between Gideon and Ruby particularly stands out: “You don’t know what they are capable of”, to which Ruby replies, “But I do know what God requires of us.”
If you are looking for a unique Amish fiction series, enjoy inspirational historical fiction, or need a boost in your relationship with the Lord, I highly recommend Jan Drexler’s “The Roll of the Drums” because even in tragedy and seemingly lost causes, God is working!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell and was under no obligation to post a positive review. All opinions are my own.