Review: Skellig – David Almond.

Synopsis from Goodreads.
Ten-year-old Michael was looking forward to moving into a new house. But now his baby sister is ill, his parents are frantic, and Doctor Death has come to call. Michael feels helpless. Then he steps into the crumbling garage. . . . What is this thing beneath the spiderwebs and dead flies? A human being, or a strange kind of beast never before seen? The only person Michael can confide in is his new friend, Mina. Together they carry the creature out into the light, and Michael’s world changes forever. . . .




I have to say if you asked me last week whether I had read Skellig by David Almond I would have looked at you blankly for a bit and then said “Well, I have a feeling I read it in primary school. No, I definitely did. But I can’t really remember what happens in it.”

I realise that that kind of means that I saw it as forgettable but please bear in mind it was about thirteen years ago and I have a horrible memory for books. Seriously, I can forget my favourite books that I’ve only just put down and that doesn’t mean that I don’t love them. I just have a shoddy memory.

But I guess the best thing about re-reading books is that you can start to remember bits that you had completely forgotten about.

Like, for example, I remember being a little bit scared of the character of Skellig. To me, back then, an angel was ethereal and glowy and had these huge, gorgeous wings full of beautiful thick feathers the colour of snowdrops. So when Skellig emerged from behind the boxes of Michael’s garage, wheezing and smelling of rotten gunge, with dead insects in his hair… my ten year old self was horrified. Now, of course, I am older and wiser and know that angels can come in all sorts of forms. They can have “bones and sinews and muscles”and be more natural than otherworldly. They can also resemble Nicholas Cage.

I also remember 27 and 53 and I remember that it’s the food of the gods. I have to say, I’m more of a crispy seaweed/ lemon chicken kind of girl. I also, rather unfortunately, remember Mr Almond’s obsession with dead bluebottles and regurgitated owl pellets. Yum.

And I remember Mina, Michael’s gloriously spirited best friend. She’s the one who doesn’t believe in education and would rather draw pictures of birds, create models out of clay and quote William Blake at all those nay-sayers. She’s the one who’s wild around the edges and doesn’t make apologies for being different. And she’s the one who is “extraordinary” and will hold Michael’s hand and give it that extra squeeze if he’s feeling like he’s drifting away.
I also remember how quiet this story is, and how it’s poignant and beautiful and occasionally uncomfortable to read. And I remember that joyous ending. And I also remember how I wished I had friends I could communicate with using an owl call. “Hoot. Hoot hoot hoot.” And I remember Whisper and how much I used to want a cat just like him.

And, most importantly, I remember why humans have shoulder blades.

So this book may have been forgettable when I was ten when I was more interested in reading Animal Ark books (Was Lion in the Larder one? Or did I make that up? I remember the titles got more and more ridiculous as the series went on), but I seriously doubt it will be forgettable now.

10 thoughts on “Review: Skellig – David Almond.

  1. I love this review of a reread, Jo. =)

    I totally know what you mean about books you read around that age. I have so many I know I read, and liked, but only a few that I really remember. I’ve had Skellig on my ‘wish list’ on my Overdrive account at the library for ages, but I’ve never actually bothered to check it out, partially because it hadn’t been talked about by anyone whose opinion I follow. I’m not sure I even realized it was intended for such a young audience! I’ll have to make a point of it.

    • Thanks Heidi!

      I know, I always think I should make more of an effort to read the books I read back then. (I recently reread His Dark Material again and I loved it even more. I think a lot of it went over my head back then).

      I’d definitely recommend this one. I forgot that it was more a children’s book than young adult (not that it matters) but it’s wonderful. I hope you get to read it soon. :)

      • I felt the same when I reread His Dark Materials! That was one of the first YA series I read when I was actually a YA (and had to anxiously wait their publication). Then when the movie was coming out and there was all that controversy, I was like ‘oh it’s not about that…’ and then I reread them. Yep, yep it was. And I loved them more. =)

  2. I recently decided to read this one after putting it on the short YA wall. I guess it must be more popular over there? Owl pellets–eww. We had to dissect one of those in high school biology class. So gross. I’m the same way about forgetting childhood classics and really most books I read. Just five minutes ago, I was trying to remember all about Seraphina, which we read together! I couldn’t remember a lot about the story, sadly. I guess I’ll have to reread the first one before the second one comes out. Or, you know, get someone to recap it for me:)

  3. Sorry about taking so long to read this review – I’m going to do a post tomorrow about a short story of his! And rather good it was too :)
    (his story, I’m not too sure about my post yet)

  4. Pingback: I Dream of Carnegie || Introduction. « weartheoldcoat

  5. Hi, I’m a school librarian and I’m using your blog to help me choose YA fiction titles (I’m a fan of your reviews). I’ve just reviewed Skellig on my blog and your views are not too dissimilar to mine. Interesting. I’m also a crispy seaweed girl. Thanks for the inspiration.

  6. Hi I’m a school librarian using your blog to help me choose YA titles for our students. Cool, huh! (We have tons of those Animal Ark books in stock, hence my above comment). I’ve recently reviewed Skellig on my book blog and our views are not too dissimilar. I read it with my 8 year old daughter – out of interest, do you remember the characters clicking their tongues a lot? It seemed to be on every page at one point. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Hi Glynis! Wow, thank you so much, I’m incredibly flattered. I hope you find some good ones :)

      I can’t say I really noticed the clicking of the tongues, I’ll have to have a look :)

      I used to love Animal Ark so much, I remember the Puppies in the Pantry one. And Squirrels in School was another of my favourites!
      Thanks again for your comment!

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