Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens Book Review

Sunday, 6 December 2020

Title: Where the Crawdads Sing
Author: Delia Owens
Pages: 384
Publisher: G.P Putnam's Sons
Publication date: 14 August 2018
Genre: fiction

About the book
For years, rumours of the “Marsh Girl” haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet fishing village. Kya Clark is barefoot and wild; unfit for polite society. So in late 1969, when the popular Chase Andrews is found dead, locals immediately suspect her.

But Kya is not what they say. A born naturalist with just one day of school, she takes life's lessons from the land, learning the real ways of the world from the dishonest signals of fireflies. But while she has the skills to live in solitude forever, the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. Drawn to two young men from town, who are each intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new and startling world–until the unthinkable happens.

I'm just going to say it outright, this book absolutely blew me away and I'm kicking myself for letting it sit on my bookshelf unread for so long. I'm usually a bit skeptical of books that are as hyped up as this one is, but take my word for it, this one is talked about so much for a reason.

What Owens does with this book is just astounding. The story is so vivid and atmospheric and the way it is told is just out of this world. We essentially jump back and fourth between the murder of Chase Andrews and we look at Kya's life from a young girl to her life directly after Chase's death (and a whole town pointing the finger at her) and what we see is a child who is slowly left behind by everyone she ever knew and loved, to fend for herself in the marsh whilst maturing and yearning for things she never knew she needed.

The story packs a punch but does so in such a gentle, humble way. It's a story about survival, hope, loneliness, prejudice, coming of age, trust, love, and most importantly, strength. It's a story that builds on itself until you are completely and truely mesmerised and enthralled in Kya's world. She is a character that is so vivid and so delicate. Kya's upbringing and her struggles to comprehend what was happening as a child would go on to mould her into the independent and self-reliant person she becomes as an adult, yet one who yearns to belong to a part of a group, who craves for social acceptance and who struggles to understand why everyone she ever knew and cared about eventually ended up leaving her.

This is the debut fiction novel by Owens and the writing is so breathtaking and the pages are filled with sentences that read like poetry but without being too whimsical or over the top. It did take me a a few chapters to get to grips with the writing as it's not my typical style, but soon enough the words just flowed and there is so much detail and precision in the writing that it's near impossible to not be drawn in. The chapters are filled with suspense and you can almost feel Kya's frustration and confusion as she navigates her way through the most important years of maturing and going from girl to woman and we are forever reminded that we are shaped by our childhood experiences.

It's wonderfully written and the character development is phenomenal, which in itself is a great book, but this has so much more. There is murder mystery, a love story, nature, coming of age, and poetry woven through the pages of this book and all this together makes it one of the easiest five star books for me. Delia, you are a genius.

Verdict: ★★★★★

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