Reviewed by Katy Z (Library Patron)
I grew up with crawdads in my backyard, where it ran down to a murky lake. I can’t say I ever heard them sing, though, and that’s what first intrigued me about Delia Owens’s debut novel. The title Where the Crawdads Sing was begging me to pick up the book and find out.
As it turns out, “way out yonder where the crawdads sing” is the coastal marsh of North Carolina, in the 1960s. The story opens on a 6-year-old girl watching her mother walk up their home’s dirt driveway and out of her life. We stay with Catherine “Kya” Clark as the rest of her family–four siblings and her father–abandons her, one by one. By the time she is ten, Kya is alone in the marsh, with only the natural world for companionship. Owens’s descriptions of the marsh and its resident flora and fauna are gorgeously limpid, transporting the reader. The inclusion of snippets of poetry, ostensibly written by a local female poet, only enhances the lyrical quality of the writing.
Kya’s interactions with the human world are more complex, and less satisfying for the reader. She finds herself entangled in not one but two troubled romantic relationships, as well as a murder investigation. Owens’s characters, other than Kya, are uninspired and predictable. The murder mystery did keep me guessing, so that combined with the descriptions of the natural world made for an enjoyable-enough read. Just watch out for the surprise ending!
Located in Adult Fiction (FIC OWENS)