Skip to content

Where the Crawdads Sing

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

As seen:

By Delia Owens

avg rating

26 reviews

Find your local library.
Buy this book from or to support The Reading Agency and local bookshops at no additional cost to you.

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say.

Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life – until the unthinkable happens.

Resources for this book


25 Jan 2023

Incredible book. Kya leads such a simple life but the relationships in the book are so beautiful and complex. I loved the focus on nature and basic living. A lot of that is lost in modern society and a return to the beauty of nature was a welcome distraction. So glad I read the book before seeing the film.

25 Jan 2023


Interesting read, I personally struggled with the pronunciation of the main character's speech. The story was beautiful and had me gripped to the end but I did have to listen to the audiobook to understand how the main characters accent properly. I really enjoyed the book otherwise, once I had an understanding of her speech the story was beautiful.

04 Sep 2022

An amazingly intense book about love, relationships, difference and a death.

24 Aug 2022

This is a fictional book. At first, I was frustrated with the jumping back and forwards in time and what seemed like so many characters but I became hooked as I began to understand the connections and also discover more about the characters. I loved the characters Kya and Tate and was really interested in their knowledge of the marshes and related wildlife where they lived. I would recommend it. I know it's a hot book at the moment (24th Aug) as the film is out in cinema but it is definitely worth a read

14 Aug 2022

The descriptions of nature throughout the book were beautiful.Although the plot took a while to establish it developed well and the characters profiles were well defined enough to be invested in their stories.

13 Aug 2022

I really liked this book. The main character is really interesting and I like books where the main character is a bit of an outsider, as Kya is here. I found the descriptions of the marsh a bit repetitive in parts. The murder mystery aspect of the book kept me turning pages late into the night towards the end.

11 Aug 2022

A little slow to begin with, it picked up pace and by the end I couldn’t put it down!

08 Aug 2022

Beautifully written, thought provoking and evocative.

07 Aug 2022

Really enjoyed reading this book; incredible descriptions of locations and wildlife really bring the story to life. Kya is a really interesting character who endures so many challenges throughout her life.

04 Aug 2022

A rather satisfying ending that I wasn’t expecting. Beautiful imagery. Loved it.

31 Jul 2022

Did not want this book to end. A future classic for sure - compelling mystery intertwined with breathtaking scene setting to transport the senses. Riveting and beautiful in equal measure.

25 Jul 2022

I was recommended this book by other staff in my faculty and I’m very glad I took them up on the recommendation! This book is a beautiful read, Owens description of the marsh and the birds and how this mirrors the main character Kya is stunning. It has a fantastic storyline which brings you in and makes you feel as if you are part of the setting and within the story.
I like the structure of the novel and how it flits between the present and the past and the two parts intertwine with one another.
A fab read for the Summer!

23 Jul 2022

I have always associated marshlands with the cold and bleakness of Hill's 'Woman in Black'. Owens however, regenerated a new warmth and vibrancy into the marshes and swamps of the deep South. I loved the fictional character of Kya. Her strength and struggles to overcome prejudices and themes of abandonment and rejection. The detail in the wilding narrative of this story was exquisite and now I can't await to watch the movie at the cinema!

03 Jul 2022

A slow to start book, but persevere because a gripping tale of how loneliness builds courage, love prevails and learning through interest will win. Kya is a strong woman who shows without fault what it means to be a woman in a male dominated world.

Warning: parental loss, rape, murder.

17 Sep 2021

A fantastic read that kept me thinking about the story line long after I'd finished the book. Part coming of age and part murder mystery I loved the blend of natural history describing the wildlife in the Salt Marshes, but also the character development of our hero Kya. To think that a world like this has actually happened in the past is at once shocking but at the same time inspiring. The people could cope, survive and in some case thrive in this environment is incredible.

04 Sep 2021

Absolutely beautiful book, so well written. The descriptive writing and depth within the characters was amazing. I truly fell in love with this book!

04 Sep 2021

I fell in love with this book, Kya is such a fascinating and complex character. I loved the ending, it kept me gripped right until the last page.

17 Aug 2021

I loved this book - 4.5/5
Beautifully written nature and great characters.

16 Aug 2021

My daughter told me I "MUST READ" this book. It has mixed reviews and initially I was reluctant to pick it up. However, I enjoyed it immensely and read it over a period of 2 days.
It would appeal to older teenagers and adults and the love interest in the book would make it seem most likely to appeal to a female audience. However, it is also story of an outsider and a murder mystery story and would appeal to readers of any gender.

29 Jul 2021

I really enjoyed this book. I did however feel the ending was rushed, someone dies who I felt really didn't need to.

22 Jul 2021

Great strong characters Kya, Tate and Jumpin twist at the end couldn't put it down. Bit of everything Murder, mystery, nature and romance. Tinged with sadness highly recommend.

10 Jul 2021


What a great novel. I got totally absorbed in Kya's story and loved being in the marsh with her. I could see, hear, smell and feel it, so well is it described. Her life is a triumph and so the book is mainly feel-good but at times it's tragic and heart-wrenchingly sad. It also gave me much to think about, issues such as race, class, being different, the environment, relationships, power and discrimination and lots more. Highly recommended.

09 Jul 2021

This is a wonderful novel.

Set in North Carolina, it tells the story of a young girl, Kya, her coming of age and her adult years. She is brought up in exceptional circumstances, leading to her being accused of a crime. But this is not a crime thriller. Instead, this is a gentle novel revealing what it means to grow up as an outsider, whilst also exploring the nature of human interaction and our relationship with the natural world.

The novel has an interesting structure, moving between the past and the present until they finally meet and is full of rich language. One of Delia Owen's strength is also her characterisation, in all its complexities.

I would recommend it, certainly.

29 Nov 2020

Donna May

St Just Monday Morning Reading Group 26h October 2020.

Where the crawdads sing. Delia Owens.

Most readers enjoyed this book very much. Comments were: 'read it in the first couple of days'; 'a beautiful book on so many levels'; 'a good read, well written and covered so many issues both interesting and controversial. For a first novel what an amazing achievement.'; and 'I loved Where the Crawdad sing, it made me cry'. The setting, the marshes of North Carolina, was especially admired, with its flora and fauna and with Kya as someone who lived in, and was almost a part of, the marshlands.

There were some slight reservations about the ending, and whether it was in Kya's nature to kill someone, and also the plausibility of the plotting required for her to achieve this. Other opinions, however, were that the ending was consistent with Kya's being part of the natural world rather than the one of human law, and that the denouement came successfully as a surprise. A few readers were initially a bit sceptical about whether such a young child could have survived so well on her own, but some (not all) of those who wondered about this then considered children in LDCs who manage alone, and also the story of Mary Anning who became a respected palaeontologist in the 19th century, and came to see that Kya was capable of seizing the opportunities that came her way through her friendship with Tate, learning to read and becoming a wildlife artist.

There were some adverse comments as well: 'didn't find it all that inspiring', ''too many stereotypes', fairly predictable', 'themes in the book are a bit clichéd: abuse at home, shunned by the rest of the community, the 'good' black folk, and the blackguard Chase'. One reader thought the poetry was a bit irritating, one expressed the view that the book would be more appropriate for teenage girls.

There were only limited opportunities for discussion of this book, but this did touch upon the issues of Kya's motivation for murdering Chase, the hypocrisy of the community Kya lived in and how it rejected her, and the Southern diet and various sorts of food referred to.

Numbers aren't everything, but out of eleven readers, seven liked it, and these seven were quite extravagant in their admiration for the book.

This book was read during October 2020 and the continuing social distancing because of the Covid-19 virus, and so the discussion was not 'live' as usual, but took place via a Facebook group, email and telephone conversations.

01 Oct 2020

Oundle Crime

I absolutely loved this book! The protagonist is a young girl called Kya Clark, who has survived for years alone living in the marsh outside the small town of Barkley Cove. Known locally as the Marsh Girl, she immediately becomes the chief suspect when a young man is found dead. But there’s more to Kya’s life than anyone knows or understands, and this is actually a coming-of-age story as well as a murder mystery. Delia Owens has written several non-fiction wildlife books and this is her debut novel which became an instant bestseller. I thought it was atmospheric and powerful; and the descriptions of the small town, its residents and the surrounding landscape and wildlife are wonderful. It is beautifully written and I couldn’t put it down. 5-Stars.
Review by: Mo

18 Jan 2020


This is a wonderful book which for me had all the components of a great story right until the last page. 5 star read!

From the noticeboard

View our other programmes