It’s absolutely no secret that I loved this book, I have been unable to stop recommending it or posting about it on my Instagram feed and y’know what – I’m not sorry!
For years, rumours of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life – until the unthinkable happens.
Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Celeste Ng, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.
Blurb from Book Depository.
Oh. My. Lawd. I am going to do my very best to string some coherent sentences together about this book, so bear with me please.
First of all, I had seen this popping up everywhere on Bookstagram. So many people were photographing it’s gorgeous cover, and raving about the story held within, to the point where any reasonable human might ask themselves “Hmm, can it really be THAT good?”. For me, at least, the answer was a resounding yes.
Let’s start with the setting – the word ‘marsh’ is not one that inspires beauty in my mind (nor, I can imagine, many people’s), but Delia Owens spins the marshland that serves as the book’s main setting in to an area of wonder. The flora and bird life that Kya studies, and becomes a focus throughout the novel, is written in such a breathtaking way that you are fully and miraculously transported while reading. Owens writing is descriptive without being laborious, and for once I found myself genuinely enjoying having a book’s setting described to me in detail. I’ll be the first to say I usually tire of some authors’ tendencies towards full page descriptions of things that seem mildly irrelevant to the story at hand, BUT Delia Owens truly made the marsh a character of its own and I am here for it.
The characters themselves were also rich portraits that really came alive on the page. From the way their speech was written so you could distinguish their accents and voices so easily, and vividly create their image in your mind, to the depth of emotion and nuance each of them had even as passing cameos in the story. Kya was, of course, the stand-out of the book, her child-like wonder overlaying a determination and grit beyond her years for so long as she battled to keep herself alive and safe in the face of isolation and abandonment.
And yet, it’s only after reading the book that these things have flit across my mind as possible reasons I loved it. The true reason I could not put this book down is, simply, it was a gripping tale. There were changes in time periods, but they were done so simply that I had no issues with following the narrative. There was the mystery of how Chase Andrews died, which underpinned the novel even as I read chapters focusing on Kya’s childhood. There was Kya’s quiet love story, which even as she pushed people away I kept inwardly championing for her to discover the way people cared. Most of all though, I was fully invested in everything that was happening, I cried when things were unfair, cheered when Kya stood up for herself, smiled in gratitude as Jumpin’ and Mabel showed their encouragement and support, and finally closed the book on the last chapter with such a full heart.
This is Delia Owen’s debut novel, and man, it absolutely blew me away.
Page Length: 368
Have you read Where the Crawdads Sing?
If not, what has been the stand out read for you so far this year?