Friday, 3 October 2014

A Song for Ella Grey, David Almond

Pages: 293
Publisher: Hodder
Release Date: 2nd October 2014
Edition: UK e-proof, NetGalley review copy

Other Titles by this Author: Skellig, Clay, My Name is Mina, Jackdaw Summer, The Fire Eaters, The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean, The Tightrope Walkers and many more

‘I’m the one who’s left behind. I’m the one to tell the tale. I knew them both... knew how they lived and how they died.’

Claire is Ella Grey’s best friend. She’s there when the whirlwind arrives on the scene: catapulted into a North East landscape of gutted shipyards; of high arched bridges and ancient collapsed mines. She witnesses a love so dramatic it is as if her best friend has been captured and taken from her. But the loss of her friend to the arms of Orpheus is nothing compared to the loss she feels when Ella is taken from the world. This is her story – as she bears witness to a love so complete, so sure, that not even death can prove final.

The novels of David Almond promise stories of love, magic and awe-inspiring prose; he is a national treasure after all. And I’d definitely say A Song for Ella Grey delivered.

It was about two paragraphs into the novel that I had to tweet about how mind-bendingly beautiful the writing in this book is. Claire was telling me the story of Ella and Orpheus and she was almost daring me to stay until the sad, sad end. Set in the North of England, the dialect that Almond used consistently throughout the novel sets a solid voice for Claire, Ella, Orpheus and the rest of the characters. Although it can be one that’s a little hard to understand for those not familiar with it (I pity the poor Americans reading this...), it brought the novel alive, especially with the descriptions of the cities and beaches of the north east.

The rugged, industrial, abandoned beauty of Ella and Claire home city is wonderful. It brings a fitting sense of greyed melancholy to the story and almost preludes the death of Ella as well as contrasts the bright, vivid colours that you should imagine when you come in contact with a Greek myth. A Song for Ella Grey is a retelling of Orpheus and Eurydice, and it actually follows pretty spot on. Other than being set in modern England and changing Eurydice’s name to Ella, of course. I love retellings of classics myths and legends; I think it’s a wonderful way to introduce these stories to people who otherwise wouldn’t know them, or think to seek them out.

A Song for Ella Grey is a beautiful, intense and wonderfully strange novel from David Almond. My words can’t do it anywhere near justice so you should just go and read it instead.

Thanks to Hodder and NetGalley for the review copy.


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