I reviewed this engaging novel and posted my review here at JackBoston and also on Goodreads. Amazon wouldn’t permit my publishing it. The message was, “We apologize but Amazon is not accepting reviews on this product from this account. If you would like to contact us about this decision, please email email@example.com. Of course there was no reply when I wrote. So I wrote an alternate version of my review, which Amazon also declined to publish. I thought it was worth sharing with you, so here is the version Amazon also refused to publish, and which I also published on Medium.
A Black-Haired Beauty, Wronged Throughout Her Life
Carl Jung’s archetypes live in our unconscious minds and have done so for as long as humans have told stories. These archetypes tell us how life is, or how it ought to be, or how it’s like something we never imagined. The most perfect symmetry of the expression of archetypes is in the mythopoeic hero-journey, which rose to consciousness in the popular book, The Hero With A Thousand Faces, by Joseph Campbell.
It’s been a while since I’ve read a novel I enjoyed as much as Delia Owen’s first novel is a masterpiece of classic storytelling which conforms, as it must, to archetypes. In this instance, while we see Kya as on a heroic journey, it is less than well defined. Her dark mother abandons her. She is as beautiful as Snow White, but her hair is black and her skin darkened by the sun. Kya is abused, as is Snow White, and there is a prince of a fellow, Tate, who breaks her heart. But it’s broken again by Chase, and it is upon that fulcrum that the story hinges.
The plot is in most respects common, a foundling story, a girl-meets-boy story, a broken-heart story, a coming of age story. What sets this novel at the top of the pile of books on my bedside table is the fine writing. Every character, every scene comes to vivid life in my imagination because of the author’s carefully crafted sentences. I can see her slaving over them, turning them in eloquent paragraphs, bringing the scenes to life and drawing them to ever higher levels of artistic description through, I imagine, endless revisions.
The author uses time shifts to great effect, allowing us to gain a deeper understanding of the people, places and events of Where the Crawdads Sing. Not only where, but why they sing. Her mother tells her, “Go as far as you can – way out yonder where the crawdads sing.” This is Kya’s tone-poem and a magnificent metaphor.
There were many, many instances where I loved and admired Delia Owens’s writing:
“. . .proving that imagination grows in the loneliest of soils . . .”
“. . .”the frayed knapsack, made of canvas tough enough for a lifetime and covered in small pockets and secret compartments.”
“The marsh’s soft air fell silklike around her shoulders. The moonlight chose an unexpected path through the pines, laying shadows about in rhymes.”
“She knew that no part of this yearning made sense. Illogical behavior to fill an emptiness would not fill much more. How much do you trade to defeat lonesomeness?”
You will surely find your own favorite passages.
And there is lovely poetry throughout, much of it written by the author under the nom de plume Amanda Hamilton. But it’s such a compelling story that I nearly didn’t want it to end! A story well told, elegantly told, rising like a Phoenix above the ashes of so much contemporary drivel that if you are an avid reader like yours truly, you’ll be inspired to seek out more extraordinary literary fiction like this. And if you’re a writer, you’ll want to raise the bar of your own storytelling to meet or exceed that of this first novel by Delia Owens.