David Almond has gifted us some incredible books over the years. From Skellig, Clay, The Fire-Eaters and many more, he always gives the reader something beautiful, stories which swallow you up and which stay with you. He is one of my favourite authors and I have not been disappointed with his newest work. A Song for Ella Grey is a retelling of the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice, set in the modern day, North East of England. It’s a tale of love, jealousy, lust and tragedy, but it’s more than that. I feel with this book Almond has expressed his love for art and creativity, he calls for us all to meet life with an open mind as well as an open heart.
‘I sing the taste of fruit as it fizzes to life on the tongue. And the feel of the air against the skin, the grains of sea salt on it, the grains of sand and the tingle of the day’s sun on it. I sing murmuring, whispering, outbursts of laughter and affection. I sing young people loving by their fires and in their tents and in the soft folds of the dunes. I sing old people walking hand-in-hand. I sing the world. I sing the world. I sing the world. I sing
Almond tells the story through the eyes of Claire, who has to witness the beauty of her best friend, Ella, falling in love with the ethereal and mysterious Orpheus, and the tragic consequence their love entails. Claire, Ella and their friends are dreamers, who find nostalgia and beauty in what can often seem a bleak North East landscape. The arrival of Orpheus during a carefree getaway to the beach consumes them all, he is creation incarnate, otherworldly in his allure, but entices with a purity that comes from the truest virtues of this world. There isn’t much I can say in regards to the plot, for those familiar with the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice, you already know how this one is going to play out. However, knowing how this tale will end should not stop you from reading this book. Almond writes with poetic perfection and is able to capture the throng of feelings which we all find ourselves entangled in during our youth with thunderous precision.
Admittedly, this book isn’t going to please all readers, but I believe those who find themselves immersed within the words will find themselves in love, maybe not with the characters, but with the concept of love itself. This isn’t my favourite book by Almond, but I can appreciate the way it has been crafted. If I haven’t sold the book to you then remember, the winner of the Guardian children’s fiction prize 2015 must have something a little special about it!
BB Rating: 3.8/5
Follow me on Twitter: @ByfordsBooks