Everything about The Song from Somewhere Else is excellent. It is the oddest, most surprising and most extraordinary book. A book whose list of ingredients insists that it will never work, but which nonetheless turns out to be a masterpiece. It is a furious, fast-paced whirl of a story that is never for one moment what it seems.
At first the pages turn darkly, telling the story of a girl called Frank who is being bullied by a gang of boys. Simultaneously, Levi Pinfold’s striking black and white illustrations depict a bleak, uncaring cityscape as harsh as Harrold’s prose. But suddenly Frank finds a friend in Nick, and with him comes beautiful, haunting music from another world. Like an egg suddenly cracking open, Harrold’s story breaks and without warning we discover the song from somewhere else is being made in Nick’s cellar, by a troll, who is his mother. The cellar is a doorway to other worlds. Without meaning to, Frank is bullied into betraying its secret. And that’s when truly terrible things begin to happen.
The result is one of the most exciting and peculiar reads of the decade. Harrold’s narrative leaps from one impossible to another, employing a deft, subtle prose that makes every extraordinary thing feel entirely real—and Pinfold’s fantastic illustrations work a similar magic. Black and white and every shade of grey, they are pure art. ‘Advance into chaos and the dark,’ Emerson once said, and Pinfold and Harrold have done just that, voyaging into the blackest pitch to bring back a manuscript both luminous and electric.