Skellig, by David Almond
Imagine finding a man with wings in a ruined garage. He has flies in his hair and eats spiders and rats, and is covered in dust and cobwebs. His body is turning to stone and he is waiting to die…
I found David Almond on the fourth floor of the library, hiding in some academic-fiction place. The typically annoyingly over-formal place that would put off most people. I borrowed a lot of him- Fire Eaters, Heaven’s Eyes, Secret Heart and Skellig- I liked Skellig best of all.
Almond has a very visual way of telling his stories, and, in the stories I read, there are a lot of mother figures who are warm, pretty and full of compassion, little boys who are rather unsure of a lot of things, and little girls who are incredibly wise about the world. Skellig wasn’t a dramatic adventure in which a thousand things happen- in fact you could tell the action part of the whole story in a long sentence- and yet it grips you and makes one Breathless. Its powerfully descriptive, with all the thoughts and feelings of the main character woven out.
I’d say the only flaw this experience had was reading all of those books at once- they were all specially selected as children’s classics for a certain publisher- and for some reason most of these publisher’s books seem to have VERY similar story lines, plots and styles- of slightly vulnerable children having a rather drawn out life experience with lots of feelings. Its nice the first time, and the second, but can get a little too much after a while. I couldn’t help comparing Almond to Diana Wynne Jones- who writes a lot less poetically, and much more ordinarily and simply- very every day style-wise – and is a lot more re-readable, and readable in continuous splurges of a lot of her books on a row ( according to me, and only me, and shouldn’t be a reason to decide your opinion, cuz i am very biased when it comes to Jones). Of course, all I had were those four books of Almond’s to compare with 🙂
That said, David Almond is worth it, and a simply brilliant author. Ignore my criticism- I can be very critical about all authors except Jones, and very biased that way- and do try him out if you can- in a continuous splurge of several books if you like 🙂 He is wonderful.