GENRES: Novel, Mystery, Bildungsroman, Literary fiction.
Abandoned as a girl, Kya raised herself in the dangerous marshlands of North Carolina. For years, rumours of the marsh girl haunted Barkley Cove, isolating the sharp and resilient Kya from her community. Drawn to two young men from town, she opens herself to a new and startling world. However, when one of them is found dead, Kya immediately becomes the main suspect. As the case unfolds, the verdict as to what happened becomes increasingly unclear, threatening to reveal many secrets.
“I wasn’t aware that words could hold so much. I didn’t know a sentence could be so full.”― Delia Owens, Where the Crawdads Sing
I just closed Where the Crawdad’s Sing by Delia Owens. I’ll put it out there: The prose is of languorous nature and I did go into this book with the thought the murder would drive the plot and be the focal point when it was just an afterthought at most places, to my disappointment.
The author heavily focuses on painting a visual picture of the marsh through excessive adjectives and metaphors. Some might find that distracting. Some might include me. Additionally, there are multiple parallels drawn between humans and the wildlife of the marsh that does not go amiss.
“Female fireflies draw in strange males with dishonest signals and eat them; mantis females devour their own mates. Female insects, Kya thought, know how to deal with their lovers.”― Delia Owens, Where the Crawdads Sing
The two timelines here are set – at least initially – in the early 1950s and the late 1960s, following the life of the protagonist, Kya Clark. The earlier timeline is very much about Kya and her stalwart determination to survive alone, along with all the interactions she has with the marshes where she lives. In contrast, the later timeline surrounds a mysterious death and the police investigation, in which Kya becomes a suspect. Although I am not a fan of dual timelines, the narration of recent events offered a refreshing break from Kya’s past when it got too much, and you best believe it did at times.
Regardless, I am surprised it got the hype it did, given her dialogue is stilted—at times, painfully stilted. There were many missed opportunities, such as the romance and murder mystery elements, which could have further been developed and explored.
Although the book does pick up in the last 80 pages, and if you know the controversy around the author the end takes an entirely different tone and leaves you stunned.
If you’re into slow-burn literary, historical fiction, give it a read; otherwise, I would not recommend it. It’s a mere 300-odd page, so it shouldn’t take more than a weekend.
Sony Pictures announced a release date for the film for this summer, along with some first-look images, and a trailer featuring a brand-new song from Taylor Swift which in my opinion sounds far more like Lana del Rey given the tone. But I am looking forward to Daisy Edgar Jones embodying Kya and her southern accent.