on 20 March 2001
Anyone who has read any of David Almond's novels knows what to expect. Brilliant storytelling but with a deeper almost spiritual meaning. His tales of Northern folk have an almost dreamlike quality and he again brings his talent to bear in this collection of stories relating to his childhood in the town of Felling. Stories of adventure, first love and enlightenment are here, but the most moving are those concerned with the loss of his nearest and dearest. Above all this book is a paen to his formative years, bringing to the reader the sense that you are a product of the whole community not just family. His own inimitable style makes this essential to anyone who liked Skellig and Kit's Wilderness.
on 11 December 2003
This book is a must read for any David Almond fans and opened my eyes to the power of short stories. It takes you into the childhood that shaped his writing today, and reveals that reality can be just a magical as any fantasy adventure. Almond is a perfect author for anyone beginning to move between children and adult literature not that this divide means much a great book is a great book and this one is fantastic. You'll laugh, you'll cry and you'll be left marvelling at the beautiful language with which Almond draws you into his world. Don't miss out, read it!
on 23 September 2009
I love David Almond's writing, and this book is no exception. This is an autobiographical account, detailing the author's childhood in Felling. The writing is, as usual, both accessible and profound - and there are hidden depths here.
One thing that was odd about this book was the way it revealed all the sources of inspiration used in the other David Almond books I have read. There were hints of Skellig with the talk if angels and shoulder blades being vestigial wings. I could see inspiration for the fire eaters in the story about passing the eleven plus, and in one of the character names. The choirboys in Clay find their inspiration in the author's catholic upbringing. And so it goes on.
This is perhaps not a surprise. Most authors - maybe all the good ones - use real life experiences and locations as inspiration for their works. The only odd thing was that as I read this story, I was so clearly put in mind of all the others.
on 4 December 2005
While I often find it difficult to warm to collections of shorts, Counting Stars proved the absolute exception. This is every bit as good as Almond's magical novels, with the remembered and created world as convincing and mesmerizing here as in, say, Heaven Eyes. To overlook this Almond title would be to miss out on a gift of a read.