Review: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

I have a book hangover. And that doesn’t happen too often, which should give you a tiny clue as to the emotional impact Where the Crawdads Sing had on me. I have seen this book all over #bookstagram and it comes with such amazing levels of love, which made me wary. Don’t believe the hype and all that… but in this case DEFINTIELY believe it. It’s a fantastic read. (Crawdads, by the way, are crayfish, look a bit like lobsters – I had to look that up!)

where-the-crawdads-sing-delia-owens review

Opening sentence: Marsh is not swamp.

Meet Marsh Girl

Catherine Clark, known as Kya, is our lead character and the one you lose your heart to. Abandoned by her family as a young child she fends for herself while living in a simple shack on the marshlands in North Carolina. I mean, this is heartbreaking. What happens to her and the way it’s written just has you in tears.

Kya laid her hand upon the breathing, wet earth, and the marsh became her mother.

She is isolated and lonely so turns to the only thing she can for comfort – the amazing array of creatures and plants that make up the marshland she lives on. Kya’s love and study of the marsh is beautifully portrayed; as a reader you are effortlessly transported to this setting – from the pressing heat to the myriad insects and foliage. It made me crave living by the sea, or a least a little closer to nature than being in a city.

She rolls faster into the deepening wave, against streaming shells and ocean bits, the water embracing her. Pushing against the sea’s strong body, she is grasped, held. Not alone.

Despite her isolated life, Kya does have romance. Local boy Tate strikes up a friendship with her, the only person who ever showed her tenderness and kindness. He even teaches her to read and shows her the power of education. Kya’s take on this was wonderfully poetic:

‘I wadn’t aware that words could hold so much. I didn’t know a sentence could be so full.’

Who killed Chase Andrews?

In essence, Where the Crawdads Sing is both a tale of Kya’s life story and a tantalising murder mystery. Local hot-shot Chase Andrews is found dead in the swamp and the local police suspect foul-play. Due to Kya’s links to Chase in the past, she is dragged into their investigation creating real heart-in-your-mouth moments.

The narrative weaves a clever story as we are never really inside Kya’s head, which lends an intriguing elusiveness to her, while at the same time you are totally emotionally invested in her.

You can soon see the movie

Actress Reese Witherspoon has snapped up the production rights and a movie is in the works. Due to the beautiful setting and atmosphere, I’ll be very intrigued to see it translated onto the big screen.

I feel like the last person in the bookish world to read Where the Crawdads Sing but I’m so glad I finally have! A story of abandonment, isolation and loneliness told with such amazing empathy and heart. Parts made me feel stressed, parts made me feel so happy for Kya; it’s been a while since a novel has had such a visceral effect on me. I was pretty much an emotional wreck when I finished reading. Totally believe the hype.

  • Published by Corsair 2018;
  • 370 pages;
  • My rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

9 thoughts

  1. I was hesitant about this one too but ended up reading it because it was chosen by the book club. I loved the depiction of nature and also enjoyed Kya’s characterisation. The “murder plot” didn’t work at all for me but overall I was happy to read this.

    So glad you cleared up the mystery of crawdads. I thought they were birds!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah same I could really connect with Kya, especially with Delia Owens doing such a good job in portraying her growth in the marsh as her protector and keeper. Nature in here as a theme was beautiful as well! The only issue I had with this book was the switching timelines which I found to be confusing and a break in the characterisation… but other than that, I think I may have had a book hangover too. 😊


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