The Song from Somewhere Else

Frank Patel's summer holidays are lonely--her best friend is traveling, her brother is too young to be any fun and her pet cat is missing. Unfortunately, not all of the kids are gone for the holidays. She doesn't know why Neil Noble chose her, but Neil and his cronies viciously taunt and sometimes even physically assault her. On Monday, Neil bullies her almost to the point of tears and throws her bag into a patch of stinging nettles.

Then Nicholas shows up. Nicholas was in her class but he "smelled weird.... No one liked him." Nick wades into the stinging nettles to get the bag for her just as Neil returns. Mortified to be associated with Nick, Frank nonetheless runs with him to his home and takes the offered sanctuary. Using the bathroom before Nick's dad drives her home, she hears a "music of a sort she'd never heard before. She was suddenly filled with shoals of fish... hundreds and hundreds of silver fish all moving as if they shared one brain."

This music is a game changer for Frank--she must hear it again. The next time she visits, she follows the sound down into the basement to the source: beautiful, terrifying, strange. What Frank finds in that basement alters the course of her summer--and could possibly alter the path of the world.

A.F. Harrold's work is masterfully paced and stunningly crafted; the story unwinds at a deliberate clip, the characters moving through a world that is at first dark, then mesmerizing, then coolly terrifying. Levi Pinfold's striking black-and-white illustrations add mood, creating a reading experience similar to Patrick Ness's A Monster Calls with the chills and growing terror of Neil Gaiman's Coraline. --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness

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