A Song for Ella Grey by David Almond
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I think sometimes that if I were asked to direct somebody to one author in all of British children’s literature, right here, right now, then that author would be David Almond. Sometimes, yes, the shifts of the question and of the person asking and of their purpose in asking would change my response, but unerringly I come back to David Almond. Often, always. His books are anchors and I cleave to them, hand-fast for life.
I have written about David Almond before; rapturously so. A Song For Ella Grey will be no change from that rule for this book is witchcraft and Almond is a spell-caster.
I’m not even sure where to begin and I know that’s a good sign; when books make me dance around them in a feverish confusion of needing to talk, and not being able to describe how or where or what even the smallest fragment of the story is because – I forget myself. I lose myself, because this book is sensation and emotion and burning, fierce, lyrical love.
There, perhaps, I have it. A Song For Ella Grey centres on love; a retelling of Orpheus and Eurydice, but one that is locked to the landscape of north east England; the beaches of Bamburgh and the Ouseburn Valley. A book that is so fiercely of its place and revels in that place; read Ella Grey and then read The Kingdom by the Sea and you have an introduction to that beautiful, stark landscape that is not easily bettered in literary terms. I research these books, tied so defiantly to place and to path and to sand and stone, and I love them, and Ella Grey is so musical and so beautiful and so wild with its language, that I am incoherent and you should read this for this is a story so very richly and tenderly and angrily and perfectly told.