A Song for Ella Grey by David Almond

Claire and Ella Grey are best friends living in the North East of England. They do everything together – or as least as much as Ella’s adoptive parents will allow. Which is why Claire finds herself without Ella when she goes camping with a group of friends at a nearby the beach. There Claire meets the unusual and mysterious Orpheus. His music is magical and Ella hears it over Claire’s mobile and is entranced. When Ella meets Orpheus they fall deeply, madly in love and Claire has to cope with the loss of her friend.

The book is based on the tragic Greek story of Orpheus and Eurydice. It is a lyrical and magical story and the description of the setting is evocative. Equally, the intensity of Claire, Ella’s and Orpheus’ feelings and thoughts is beautifully portrayed. However, the book is unusual – it is not your average YA romance or adventure. It is mysterious and slightly wild. One minute it is embedded in the tough, stark reality of life in North East England, complete with the local inflection and slang, and the next it is caught up in a world of magic realism. This book is likely to be marmite to readers – they will either love the dreamlike intensity or they will find it too surreal.

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