Sorry this review is a day late, I forgot to schedule it. I hope you enjoy it anyway.
Title: The Song From Somewhere Else
Author: A. F. Harrold
Illustrator: Levi Pinfold
Genre: Fantasy, Magical Realism, Middle Grade
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing (10th November 2016)
Frank doesn’t know how to feel when Nick Underbridge helps her escape from the boys who’ve been bullying her. No one at school really likes Nick. He’s big, quiet and he smells weird.
And yet, there’s something nice about Nick’s house. Frank hears faint music playing – it’s light and good and it makes her feel happy for the first time in forever.
But there’s more to Nick, and his house, than meets the eye, and soon Frank realises she isn’t the only one keeping secrets. Or the only one who needs help . . .
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5 stars)
THE SONG FROM SOMEWHERE ELSE by A. F. Harrold and illustrated by Levi Pinfold is a beautiful and haunting story. The story follows Frank – Francesca Patel – over a period of a week during the summer holidays. All of Frank’s friends are on holiday and her cat has gone missing, so she is by herself trying to put up missing cat posters when the local bullies find her. She is rescued by Nick Underbridge, who no one at school really likes, and she finds herself at his house where she hears beautiful and haunting music. Frank feels happy for the first time she can remember.
THE SONG FROM SOMEWHERE ELSE is a beautiful book. A. F. Harrold’s story is interwoven with Levi Pinfold’s stunning illustrations; together they tell a moving story of friendship, and growing up, with a few ‘monsters’ thrown in. I’m not usually a fan of magical realism, but for me the weaving of the real and the fantastical in THE SONG FROM SOMEWHERE ELSE really worked well. The text and the images have been put together well, and they work together to tell a really imaginative and compelling story that will have you keep turning the page. Reaching the end of this book was something of a surprise.
I really enjoyed the way we move between the real and the fantastical in THE SONG FROM SOMEWHERE ELSE. To begin with I did find it a bit jarring, but as the story progressed and I got more engrossed in the narrative the movement between the real and the fantastic felt seamless. At no point did one thing (real or fantastic) seem more tangible than the other: Harrold kept them well balanced throughout the narrative. The story takes place over a week – just five days – but it felt both longer and shorter than that. Harrold’s words and Pinfold’s imagery created a world that felt at once both dreamlike and solid.
THE SONG FROM SOMEWHERE ELSE is a story about growing up and finding your place in the world. In many ways Frank is as much of an outsider as Nick. The growing friendship between them is brilliantly written. I really enjoyed the fantastical elements of the narrative; in a lot of ways they made the story come alive. This is all woven together by Pinfold’s greyscale illustrations. The lack of colour anywhere but the cover really helps to set the mood of the book. The use of greyscale is really atmospheric, and adds an otherworldly feel to the illustrations.
THE SONG FROM SOMEWHERE ELSE is an unputdownable read. It is a compelling story about friendship and growing up, which is why I think it balances between middle grade and young adult. If you are looking for something a bit different, something that will get you thinking, then I highly recommend this book. I also think THE SONG FROM SOMEWHERE ELSE is a great book to start with if you want to try magical realism. This is a book everyone should try if they think the blurb sounds interesting, even if they’ve had a bad experience with the genre before.