Title: Where the Crawdads Sing
Author: Delia Owens
Publisher: Corsair (Hachette)
Genre: Contemporary / Literary Fiction, Thriller
SPOILER LEVEL: LOW | this review contains minor details about characters and plot elements.
Isolated from the world, abandoned by everyone she once called family, young Kya is forced to grow up alone in the marshes. The gulls are her only companions; the waters and thick muds her only source of survival. This novel chronicles Kya’s transition from a heartbroken child waiting for her Ma to return to a fearless adult determined never to let anyone in again. However, on the brink of her small universe are two men, fascinated by the strange and beautiful Marsh Girl who has become a village legend. Kya must choose between the certainty of life alone, and the uncertainty of a life together.
‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ is a fascinating exploration of loneliness and prejudice, of being outcast and abandoned, of struggle and survival, and the risk of falling in love. Interweaved with a mystery in the present day, this novel follows Kya’s childhood into adolescence and eventually catches up with the present and the mystery that has captured the town’s attention. Owens offers beautiful commentary on small town life, the prejudices of the 1960s, and the life of a small girl that has never been shown compassion.
Owens is capable of making you truly fall in love with a character, and I fell hard for Kya. Even as a young child, waiting patiently for the return of her family, she is a resourceful, stubborn character fuelled by the need to survive. And as she grows, her strength grows with her. She is an intricate, complex character, with a love for the marshes she exists in and the creatures that inhabit it, a thirst for knowledge and, above all, the companionship of others. This is a slow-paced, character-driven novel, chronicling Kya’s entire childhood and beginnings of adulthood, allowing the reader to slowly fall in love. Throughout her life, Kya is let down by everyone around her, and my heart broke for her as she was disappointed over and over again. Her commentary on loneliness and disappointment was so poignant and heart wrenching, as you see her become more hardened and self-reliant, determined to live alone to avoid further heartache. Owens makes you want nothing more than to see Kya happy, and you spend the whole novel waiting to see the outcome.
This novel has some of the most beautiful prose I have ever read. It is a stunning novel with an incredible writing style. If I am going to enjoy a slow-paced novel, the writing has to be beautiful, and this definitely was. I will read anything Delia Owens writes. The descriptions of the marshes and village life were so detailed and beautiful I could picture it so clearly I’m not entirely sure I was still in my room whilst reading it.
And the plot, although slow-paced, contained an air of mystery that kept me hooked until the final pages. The interweaving between Kya and the present, in which a cherished member of the town has turned up dead and foul play is suspected, really kept the pacing and made me desperate for the truth to be revealed. The intrigue kept me hooked until the very last pages. I will not spoil anything, but I have to say that the delivery of the truth was so ridiculously clever and I really, really loved the ending. It was just perfect.
This gets all the stars from me.
Have you read this one? What did you think? If you’ve read any books you think are similar, please feel free to leave recommendations below!