BOOK REVIEWS

Half a Creature from the Sea: A Life in Stories Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2018-05-27 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 0 user ratings
ISBN:0763678775
LANGUAGE:English

"Nearly didn't pick this up because I'd read this author's previous work and didn't enjoy it that much. So glad I bliddy did. The stories are strange yet told in an honest, down-to-earth way. The voice is clear. The short stories that stay with me: The Missing Link (about a boy struggling with repelling and accepting a new kid in town); Harry Miller's Run (about a dying man recalling the run of his life); Half A Creature from the Sea (about a girl who keeps fainting, and her life with her mom near the sea); and Klaus Vogel and the Bad Lads (about an English boy learning about true freedom from the new German boy). " said.

"David Almond's home town of Tyneside in Northern England comes alive in this mixture of fact, fiction, and fantastical short stories. If you like Almond's writing, you will surely love these stories. Prefacing each one is Almond's explanation of the real Tyneside as he was growing up in the 1950s and 60s. Then, each story is told complete with Geordie accents, small town punks and heroes, families, and, of course, football. The writer's imagination and recall of his early years is delightful, but then again, I am a dedicated Almond fan! Having said that, I am not sure who will find this book. It won't go into my library, but maybe it would fit into a middle or high school setting." said.

"I've read a few David Almond books now and almost feel like I've read them all.
This is a collection of short stories by him, with an author's note before each of them. Although they're very well written I can't say that they made much impact on me, though you can definitely fill the emotion and realism in the words.

Another thing is that some of these are ghost stories which, at the same time...aren't really ghost stories. It felt a bit strange reading them, as the author was trying to write a ghost story which didn't *really* have anything to do with the paranormal, because the stories themselves about life's experiences. By the end of one of them, I felt that there wasn't actually a ghost involved at all. The protagonist was just guilt-wracked by his actions and started dreaming of the boy who died.

There are definitely some good stories in here, but I can't see myself reading it again. 3.5 stars.
" said.

"Eight short stories drawn from the childhood of master storyteller David Almond provide much insight into some of his other writings. Clearly, a sense of place and time permeates these tales, some of them funny and some of them rather frightening. Set in the small town of Felling-on-Tyne where he grew up, the stories are, by turns touching, and filled with suspense. My personal favorites are "Harry Miller's Run," which describes a race viewed through the lens of an elderly character near the end of his days, and "Klaus Vogel and the Bad Lads," in which the narrator finally learns to stand up against bullying behavior. I also loved how the author shares his thoughts and inspiration for each of the pieces, sometimes citing lines of poetry or experiences that gave birth to the writing, and also describing how certain pieces have been revised several times with future revision possible. The small mixed media illustrations support the stories nicely. " said.

"I think the author intended for certain revelations in the stories to be warm and beautiful but to me many of them were eerie and weird. like I couldn't get past what was initially speculated by the narrator davie to be happening, so that even when it was revealed that things were not what they seemed, I still carried the creepy feeling away that things were exactly as they were initially portrayed to be. the monster to me was really a monster, a demon. the poltergeist was a scary poltergeist. the man in the garden, to me was a hobo pedophile.
the only story that was warm and fuzzy to me was harry miller's run. I truly enjoyed that story. I felt the hot sun and the salty sea and tasted the cold ice cream. if only all the stories in this book were like that, this could have easily been a five star little gem but unfortunately the other stories didn't sit well with me. they left me feeling uneasy somehow and I didn't care for them.
I'll probably be donating this to my local library as I have no desire to keep it.
" said.

"“Can this be real?” That’s what we’re left wondering as each new story in Half a Creature from the Sea teasingly unfolds. British author Almond blurs the lines between the supernatural and reality with aplomb in his latest collection of short fiction. Satisfyingly, each story is preceded by an autobiographical foreword, as Almond weaves elements of his own provincial childhood into each tale, accompanied by Taylor’s stylish gray-scale illustrations, which clatter around the edges of the pages. This only heightens the allure of the fantastical circumstances his characters find themselves in: a father descends from heaven to console his grieving son. God—or an imposter?—visits a young girl’s garden and grants wishes that seem implausible. A boy summons a poltergeist he only half fears. Almond’s dialogue crackles with Briticisms and youthful English dialect. His scenes center on unsuspecting young adults making sense of mystical situations they unwittingly encounter. With each story, Almond cements his prolific, beloved place among writers of magic realism for today’s young readers.— Lexi Walters Wright, First published September 15, 2015 (Booklist).
" said.

"In a series of short stories, master author Almond takes readers back to the magical times of his childhood as well as our own. The stories are all set in the places that Almond grew up in. The stories range in topic, but each one offers glimpses of wonder and deep understanding. They also all speak to the power of stories in our lives, whether they are to reveal or to hide the truth. The eight stories in the book give us characters living normal yet extraordinary lives. There is the girl rejected by school and society who finds it easy to believe she comes from somewhere far away. There is the home with a monster hidden inside it where you can hear its noises if you put your ear on the wall outside. There are the boys who run miles and miles to swim in the sea on one perfect summer day. There are poltergeists mixed with soccer games, bullies mixed with heroes. It is a beautiful collection of stories which put together make up a glimpse of a world past that still is relevant in our modern one.

Almond’s writing is exceptional. This shorter form allows him to create little worlds of magic, astonishing moments of clarity, decisions that reverberate in the community. He invites us into his home, revealing in paragraphs before each story the way that the story ties to his childhood or to a place that is dear to him. It gives us a look at his process, a way to understand the fictionalizing of memories and the beauty of turning everyday into amazement. The fantasy elements are there, dancing under the cloak of faith but there still, explained but also not completely fictional. There is a delicacy to this writing and yet a robustness to the setting that work particularly well together.

One of the best short story collections I have read in a very long time, this collection is exceptional. Appropriate for ages 8-12.
" said.

"Author - David Almond

Genres - Mystery, fiction, anthology, friendship

Age Group Recommendation - 9+

Cover - In my opinion, the cover of this short story collection is very interesting because there are quite random things thrown on it that you wouldn't usually expect to see together, such as a giraffe, a house and a gramophone floating in the sea.
Some readers may think that each illustration represents a story; I disagree. Some of them might do, but I don't think all of them fit in and the office drawers on the cover don't seem to appear in the book.
Anyway, the cover is definitely thought-provoking an maybe the mystery channelled through the randomness draws people in.

My Review - I believe that Half a Creature from the Sea is a good-quality book that delves into the depths of different lives with one connection - they are all linked to Felling, Almond's hometown (and most of the main characters are called Davie!). The stories all seem to end with cliffhangers and illustrations. Drawings also appear at the beginning of stories, too.
I liked the fact that the author described the new story just before it, on top of an introduction at the start of the whole book. However, what puzzled me was that he used inverted commas around what he wrote to the reader. This was my first David Almond book and I don't know much about him. These marks made me question whether he was alive or not. I calculated his age and he would be around 65-70 years old. Afterwards, I found out that, actually, he was in fact still alive. Nevertheless, I still think that this was an unusual structural feature, though I do agree with anyone that says it separated the actual piece from the pre-word.
Despite this, I enjoyed Half a Creature from the Sea and was gripped by the anthology, although I found it a bit hard to get into. Therefore, I rate this book 6.5/10.
" said.

June 2018 New Book:

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