The Song From Somewhere Else
By A. F. Harrold
Published by Bloomsbury
ISBN 978 1 4088 8475 1
For reasons she just can’t work out, Francesca “Frank” Patel has become the prime target of a gang of neighbourhood bullies led by the odious Neil Noble.
Things come to a head one evening when the protagonist of poet and author A. F. Harrold’s The Song from Somewhere Else goes out on an errand. Her cat has gone missing, and she decides to go around the neighbourhood sticking up “Missing Cat” posters. It isn’t long before Nobel and his crew appear out of nowhere like a pack of wild animals. But on this occasion things do not pan out quite like bullies expect.
Someone comes to Frank’s rescue, but it’s a rescue she doesn’t quite want. Her unexpected hero is Nick Underbridge, the local misfit and general weirdo. Flat-faced, physically far too big for his age, and accompanied always by a strong, unwashed smell, Nick isn’t the most popular guy at school, and being defended by him will do Frank’s standing no good at all.
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In fact, aligning herself with him is going to make Frank an even bigger target, and she can’t quite believe it when she lets Nick invite her to his home in an obvious act of kindness. Against her better judgement, Frank follows him home; and it’s here that The Song From Somewhere Else takes a turn into unexpected territory.
Left alone for a moment in Nick’s house, Frank hears some beautiful, mysterious music coming from behind a door in the kitchen. Frank has no option but to investigate. She cautiously descends a dark stairway, and finds herself in a clammy, dimly lit cellar.
Frank cannot believe her eyes when she sees the source of the music. Is she having a nightmare? Has the stress of the past few weeks finally caught up with her and caused her brain to flip? Something is very wrong here and Frank quickly realises that she has walked into the middle of a massive mystery.
It would be wrong to give away any further details of the clever and gripping plot-line of Harrold’s spooky and masterly paced novel. Suffice to say, The Song From Somewhere Else is a carefully-crafted spine-chiller for young and mid-teens that perfectly balances scariness and quality writing.
Frank and Nick are strong characters, and once it becomes so deadly obvious that Nick is not what he seems, and is hiding a massive secret, the story takes off into very exciting territory. Mystery, science-fiction, folk-tale: Harrold packs these elements and more into his story and not a moment is wasted.
John Millen can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org