Monday, 29 September 2014

A Greek tragedy for the 21st century

A Song for Ella Grey by David Almond

This title updates the Greek myth of Orpheus & Eurydice to 21st Century Northumberland.

Ella & Claire have been best friends for a long as they can both remember. Now both studying for A levels they cannot imagine a life apart. Ella, who was adopted,  is under pressure from her parents to do well in her A levels, so when their gang suggests a  break away on the coast Ella decides she cannot go. Claire and the group set up camp on the beach and enjoy the freedom from school, family and work for a few days. The group is joined by a strange young man, Orpheus, who seems to have an unsettling effect on the group and Claire feels that Ella should be included in the experience, she is only a phone call away. So a chain of events is set in place which will end in tragedy for the trio.

David Almond has captured the wild beauty of the area and his lyrical recounting of this Greek tragedy for the a 21st century audience is wonderful.

I've just seen the hardback and reading it as a galley on a Kindle the story lost some of its impact. The hardback edition has wonderful illustrations and makes good use of light and dark to capture the highs and lows of a love that echoes down the centuries. This is not in the same vein as the YA novels doing the rounds at the moment involving reincarnation  and lost loves. It is more realistic than that and rooted in the landscape of the north.

A beautiful, lyrical story and will be worth promoting to those readers in schools who like their books with a bit of depth.

I was given this book for free by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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