Review of “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens

Note: This review is by my husband Jim.

Catherine Danielle Clark, known as Kya to her family, and as “The Marsh Girl” to the people of Barkley Cove, North Carolina, is abandoned by her family as a very young girl. She is able to survive with very little assistance from the adult world because of her remarkable resourcefulness. She ”finances” her relatively primitive life style primarily by collecting and selling mussels and smoked fish to the local version of a convenience store. Yet, she remains extremely shy, avoiding contact with other humans as much as possible, not even attending school despite the (half-hearted) efforts of local truant officer.

Just before reaching puberty, she meets Tate, a young man who has seen her fishing and collecting mussels. Tate teaches Kya how to read, and she turns into a voracious seeker of knowledge. Kya’s and Tate’s relationship turns romantic, though not sexual, but Tate abandons her to attend the University of North Carolina.

The early chapters of the book alternate between Kya’s youth in the 1950s and early 60s and the investigation of the mysterious death of Chase Andrews, a local former high school football star, in 1970. We later learn that Kya met Chase and became his lover on the rebound after Tate abandoned her.

The local sheriff develops a rather far-fetched theory of how Kya might have killed Chase, and the final chapters deal with the presumption of guilt about Kya. This presumption is buttressed by the town’s prejudice against the “Marsh Girl.” I can’t tell you how that ends, but the denouement is exciting and satisfying.

The book has received rave reviews, and I can see why. Delia Owens has created a collection of well-wrought characters. Kya in particular is very sympathetic, if a little implausible. The author is very effective in describing a believable fictional universe in coastal North Carolina in the area around Barkley Cove. The novel itself is an interesting melding of a coming of age novella with a murder mystery and a legal procedural tale. Highly recommended!

Rating: 4/5

Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2018


About rhapsodyinbooks

We're into reading, politics, and intellectual exchanges.
This entry was posted in Book Review and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Review of “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens

  1. BermudaOnion says:

    Someone’s recommended this for book club so maybe I’ll get to it soonish. I keep hearing good things about it so I’m not sure why I haven’t picked it up yet.

  2. Kay says:

    This book has now been nominated for more than one award in the mystery community. I really want to try it. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  3. Agreed. This is a terrific book. It’s one of the few books I can think of where everybody who read it loved it – regardless of age or gender.

  4. The Cue Card says:

    Yeah I liked it too …. the nature and visualness of the story swept me up with it. Here’s my review of it:

  5. Jeane says:

    I received a copy of this one as a gift recently- now I’m really looking forward to reading it!

  6. Beth F says:

    I really liked this one — though I kept wondering how she was able to fend for herself from such a young age. Still, I was totally drawn in.

  7. I’ve heard so many good things about this book, and I’m so glad to read your review, which gave a great sense of what the novel feels like to read.

  8. stacybuckeye says:

    I liked this one a loit. It got better as it went along and the ending sold me 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.