Well, I thought to myself, wonder no more as I read the introduction and the eight short stories that make up Half a Creature from the Sea. In the book's main autobiographical Introduction, Almond writes "I'll start with things I can hardly remember, things I've been told about, things that are like fragments of a dream." From there, he goes on to introduce the reader to Felling-on-Tyne, the town where he grew up and the one he uses in his writing for "it's landscape, it's language, it's people" and rgwb procedes to show the reader just how he makes the ordinary extraordinary.
Each of the eight short stories that follow the Indroduction are also preceded with their own substantial autobiographical prologue. In them, Almond explains where his idea first came from, and gives enough background information to not only make the story richer for the reader, but also to give us a way of seeing how Almond's writing process happens.
The character's in each story come to life, in a way that is difficult to master in so short a space, but everyone in these Almond stories feels real and full-bodied, even the ghost in "The Missing Link." Almond's descriptions on which each of the landscapes his stories unfold become just as important, just as realistic as his characters, to the point where they become characters in their own right. As the stories wander around this North-East area of England that Almond knows and seems to love so well, you can almost smell the salt in the air in the story "Half a Creature from the Sea" and taste those wonderful meat pies from Myer's pork shop from "Slog's Dad."
And Eleanor Taylor's black and white illustrations throughout the book compliment and enhance the hauntingly mysterious stories. I especially liked the illustrations showing the ordinariness of Felling-on-Tyne as Almond introduced readers to it:
|1 of 4 Felling-on-Tyne illustrations|
in Half a Creature from the Sea
I should mention that there some bullying, some violence and a lot of cursing and it can be raw, but not ever gratuitous.
This book is recommended for readers age 13+
This book was an EARC received from NetGalley