Joseph Delaney wonders at the sense of the mysterious in Skellig.
The book I wish I’d written is Skellig by David Almond. We encounter a creature that is utterly ‘other’ and strange. The boy, Michael, discovers it in their garage beneath spiders and dead flies. There are dead bluebottles in its hair and on its shoulders. Is it dead? Is it ill? Is it dying? Will it recover? The story is set in the modern world with a family trying to cope with everyday human problems. Into this normal world, this creature is dropped by the author; it is a bomb of the imagination that blows your mind. This is simply the best depiction of an ‘alien’ that I have ever read. Most science fiction writers come nowhere near Almond’s achievement. But is it an angel, a bird an alien or something totally different an unknown? We never really find out but that does not matter. Had I really written it I would have developed Skellig into a series of seven or even thirteen books. I would have answered every question that a reader could possibly ask. It would have been a big mistake. Almond’s book has a great sense of the mysterious; the fact that we do not get all of the answers we seek makes no difference. We are left with a sense of wonder. I wish that I had written it!
Joseph Delaney is the author of the Spook’s series, which is the inspiration for the upcoming blockbuster film, Seventh Son.
Skellig by David Almond is published by Hodder Children’s Books (978-0340997048, £6.99 pbk).
Joseph Delaney’s The Spook’s Apprentice (978-1782952459, £6.99 pbk) is published by Red Fox.