A Song for Ella Grey

A Song for Ella Grey - David Almond

The title of this book and the cover were enough to get me to click on it in the Read Now section to find out what it’s about. At the mention of Orpheus I was pretty much sold. Greek myths are by far my most favourite of all the ancient civilizations, and the stories of Orpheus in particular was always one that stood out and pulled at my heartstrings as a kid.

Even only at the beginning of the book I already noticed that Almond’s writing reminded me that of Francesca Lea Block, to a degree, and later on I made the comparison to her book “Ecstasia” which also had mentions and references to the Orpheus myth, among others, as well as that whimsical touch that involved poetic teenagers and young adults that were living on dreams, falling in love, sometimes dabbing in drugs, etc. But sadly for me, the writing of “A Song for Ella Grey” wasn’t as enchanting or captivating. The whimsical-ness of it grew pretty neutral very soon and it read like a pretty straight forward, basic story for the most part. I didn’t connect with the writing as much as I would’ve liked, but I did enjoy the overall atmosphere of the story. It was a predictable one, dare I say, and there was hardly anything that I was surprised by while reading. But it was some of the details that held my interest, such as the ‘hipster’ life I imagine some British teenagers probably live, that whole vagabond, poetic atmosphere and desire for travel and adventure and dreams. It struck a personal chord with me, which was enough to make me safely say that I liked this book even though I wasn’t amazed or blown away.

One factor that did confuse me however was Claire and Ella’s relationship, especially some of the thoughts Claire had towards her and the mentions of kissing on the lips and holding each other tightly. I didn’t want to read into anything in this one and so I won’t know if the author intended for there to be a ‘secret’ one-sided romance, or if that’s a typical behavior patter for teenagers in Britain. I got the vibe that they were close, but I can’t say I felt the same about Ella and Orpheus who felt like a bit of a sudden thrown-together kind of relationship, and when Ella was trying to convince Claire of the opposite she may as well have been trying to convince me. I don’t know, it didn’t work as well as I imagined it to. It was a bit awkwardly spaced out in terms of how much attention was devoted to which character relationships, or maybe the author planned to rely on the reader’s acceptance of the whimsical, fast-paced writing.

A quick and enjoyable tale this one is not for everyone, and doesn’t, sadly, offer much in terms of retelling or bringing to live an old, well-known myth. But there is something in this that will capture your attention and keep you reading until the very end so you could make your own judgement of the bittersweet tale unfolding before you.