Thursday, October 2, 2014

Review: A Song for Ella Grey by David Almond

An epic new novel from the award winning author of SKELLIG
A lyrical teenage love story inspired by the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. Set in the urban landscape and coastal headlands of the North East of England, David Almond brings his legendary storytelling to this heart-breaking tale, giving it the intoxicating urgency and absolute beauty he is so admired for.
"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.

I like modern takes of Greek legends, so I decided to give this one a go.

In A Song for Ella Grey, the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice is given a new twist. The story is told mostly from the point-of-view of Ella Grey's friend Claire. Ella and Claire are childhood friends who are part of a wild group of friends. It is during one of their group's outings that they meet Orpheus and this sets off a chain of events that lead to a dark ending that no one saw coming.

I read this book as a typhoon was less than a day away from my city, and the gloomy weather was perfect for this book. This is the kind of book that you read on a cloudy day in a coffee shop or by the sea, preferably while drinking coffee or tea.

The book feels kinda dark or, appropriately enough, gray. The descriptions were flowery and were a little bit like being in a crazy dream set in Coachella. That sounds strange but for me, this book was like the book version of a cult-hit indie film that had a great soundtrack filled with obscure songs.

As for the content itself, if you know the story of Orpheus and Eurydice, then you pretty much know how this story will go. What makes this unique is the narrator and her group of her friends. The behavior of this group of friends is definitely not something that happened in my time 10 years ago, so there was a disconnect for me there.

I also thought that while the shift from Claire's point-of-view to Orpheus' point-of-view was necessary to the narrative, I didn't like it at all and found Orpheus to be quite boring.

The book only gets a three from me, because that's how I feel about the book and based on my subjective rating scale, it falls nicely within the group of books I've read that I didn't really really like but I think is good and which someone else will enjoy immensely.

Thanks to NetGalley and Hodder Children's Books for the e-ARC.


  1. It's a new take on an old myth.
  2. It's a good rainy day read.
  3. It's a strange but wonderful book.


  1. It probably won't be everyone's cup of tea.

We look at old photographs: me as a baby, me as an infant, me as an adolescent, the three of us in beautiful formations in the world's shadows and light.

  1. You're looking for a rainy day read.
  2. You're looking for a book to read at a coffee shop.
  3. You like books that are gloomy but hopeful.



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