Reading Time: 3 minutes

Where the Crawdads Sing (2018) by Delia Owens is a novel that tells the story of Kya Clark, a young girl who grows up in the marshes of North Carolina. The book is an upmarket fiction piece with elements of a coming-of-age story and a crime mystery that explores themes of isolation, love, and the power of the natural world.

From the beautiful descriptions of the marsh and its inhabitants, to the constant portrayal of the destructive impact of human activities on the natural world, Where the Crawdads Sing can be seen as a powerful example of climate fiction.

The novel begins with the discovery of a body in the marshes, and the subsequent investigation that leads to Kya being accused of murder. As the story unfolds, readers are taken on a journey through Kya’s life, from her childhood as the “Marsh Girl” to her adulthood as a reclusive woman

One of the strengths of the novel is the way it portrays the setting of the marshes. Through rich and detailed descriptions, the reader is able to experience the beauty and the danger of the marsh environment. Delia Owens’ background as a wildlife scientist is evident in the way she brings the marshes to life, making them a character in their own right. This is particularly effective in the way the author uses the marsh to reflect Kya’s emotions. More on this topic later.

Another strength of the novel is the way it explores the theme of isolation. Kya’s isolation is both physical and emotional, and Owens does an excellent job of depicting the impact that isolation can have on a person. The reader is able to understand how Kya’s isolation shapes her personality and worldview, and how it makes her both vulnerable and resilient.

Where the Crawdads Sing Mash
Where the Crawdads Sing Mash

The characters in the Where the Crawdads Sing are richly drawn and complex. Kya, in particular, is a fully realized character whose growth and development over the course of the story is one of the novel’s main strengths, since the moments when se is abandoned by the members of her family on. Other characters, such as Tate, Kya’s romantic interest,  and Jumpin’, are also well-developed and contribute to the novel’s themes.

Another theme is the power of love and connection. The novel explores how love can both hurt and heal, and how it can change a person. Owens explore the different forms of love that Kya experiences, from the innocent love of childhood to the complicated love of adulthood.

Now, some criticisms of the novel. Despite the fact that the descriptions of the marsh are, in addition to accurate, lyrical and even beautiful, there are passages that can be boring for readers. Owens gives detailed descriptions of the area around him, painting a picture of a world that is both calm and scary. However, the parts when Kya is portrayed in her daily life do not have much action in them, so they in fact slow down the narrative. can cause interest to be lost.

Here is an interview with the author:

In terms of plot, the segments dealing with the death of Chase, a confident and popular boy who was discovered dead in the bathtub, and the subsequent trial do not reach the emotional heights of a thriller or a typical crime story. Some readers who are used to reading genre fiction with clear boundaries may find this mix of genres hard to handle.

Is Where the Crawdads Sing an example of climate fiction? I would say yes. There is no denying that the environmental themes in are an important aspect of the story. From the beautiful descriptions of the marsh and its inhabitants, to the constant portrayal of the destructive impact of human activities on the natural world, Owens’ novel can be seen as a powerful example of climate fiction.

Overall, this novel has the elements of a work of aesthetic height, with an elaborate and beautiful style, well-developed characters that work well in the context of the story, in addition to the fact that it portrays the natural environment abundantly. On the other hand, the mixture of genres can make the work confusing. Give it a try!