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Where the Crawdads Sing

Written by: Delia Owens
Narrated by: Cassandra Campbell
Length: 12 hrs and 12 mins
4.7 out of 5 stars (4,556 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Number One New York Times Best-Selling Phenomenon

More than seven million copies sold worldwide

A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club Pick

A Business Insider Defining Book of the Decade

"I can't even express how much I love this book! I didn't want this story to end!" (Reese Witherspoon)

"Painfully beautiful." (The New York Times Book Review)

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.

Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

©2018 Delia Owens (P)2018 Penguin Audio

What the critics say

"Narrator Cassandra Campbell serves up a bushel of Carolina accents in this debut novel by nature writer Delia Owens. Campbell's accents give the mix of classes and regions in the story the same realistic detail Owens provides for the marsh.... Prepare to be enchanted and haunted." (AudioFile)

"A lush debut; Owens delivers her mystery wrapped in gorgeous, lyrical prose." (Alexandra Fuller, author of Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight)  

“A painfully beautiful first novel that is at once a murder mystery, a coming-of-age narrative and a celebration of nature.... Owens here surveys the desolate marshlands of the North Carolina coast through the eyes of an abandoned child. And in her isolation that child makes us open our own eyes to the secret wonders - and dangers - of her private world.” (The New York Times Book Review)

“Steeped in the rhythms and shadows of the coastal marshes of North Carolina’s Outer Banks, this fierce and hauntingly beautiful novel centers on.... Kya’s heartbreaking story of learning to trust human connections, intertwine[d] with a gripping murder mystery, revealing savage truths. An astonishing debut.” (People)

What listeners say about Where the Crawdads Sing

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

A Harlequin Romance, with Zoology Thrown In

As most reviewers note, the story takes place in a marsh on the North Carolina coast, in the mid-20th century. The descriptions of the marsh and the many creatures that live in it are beautifully and lovingly rendered. And the story, about small girl who lives alone in the marsh from about nine years of age, begins with great promise. But all too soon the book becomes a Harlequin Romance, with random zoology lectures thrown in (and one brief physics lecture also). The female hero is hauntingly beautiful and absurdly well accomplished. At ten years old, after her family have abandoned her one by one, she learns to earn a living digging mussels and smoking fish. Thereafter, this ten year old grows up by literally by herself in the marsh. Despite having exactly one day of schooling in her life, her first boyfried teaches her to read over a few weeks one spring when she is 14. By the end of the summer she is reading whole biology textbooks. At 22 she publishes not one, but two zoology books (shell fish; birds) that she has illustrated with her own water colours and oils. Not bad for a girl who has lived essentially in isolation, with no schooling, all her life. But the worst part is her two romances. This self-confident and supremely accomplished great beauty has romances with two very handsome men, one a scholar and the other just rich. By the time the girl reaches her teens she has developed a healthy interest in clothing and makeup, and she manages to have a beautiful wardrobe (albeit a somewhat used one) and even some lipstick which, ten years after her mother left home, can still be used. In the Harlequin vein, the relationships have a lot of promise of sex, but much more chastity. People cuss a lot, but only very rarely do we hear the actual words. Of course, her affairs with the two man-boys intersect, and she has to choose the right one. You will have to listen yourself to see if she makes the right choice. I can't believe this book would have received the attention it has received had it not been recommended by famous people.

18 people found this helpful

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My heart ached and soared while listening to this

I heard about this book through Reese Witherspoon’s book list and decided to download as audio book after reading reviews about the narration. Absolutely the right decision. This is by far the best audio book I have ever listened to. The narration was brilliant and made this story come alive. I was moved to tears so many times throughout this novel. Her innocence, loneliness and resiliency were powerful. I really did not want this one to end.

26 people found this helpful

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Good story even though it was predictable

I didn’t like the narrators attempt of a southern accent of the characters but the story was entertaining. The marsh was described beautifully and it’s inhabitants without mention of mosquitoes.

7 people found this helpful

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Highly recommend!

I started this audiobook to pass the time while stuck in traffic - but within no time I was listening to it in every spare moment I got. Excellent story all the way through!

22 people found this helpful

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  • Kim
  • 2018-09-19

Disappointed

Not going to call this a mystery: it is only a mystery if you are a turnip. The foreshadowing is so heavy handed I felt like I got clipped upside the head. There was some lovely writing in this book and the main plot line had great potential but I was so fed up with the main character I could have howled in protest. This was horrifically overwritten as if the author was afraid the reader would be, well, a turnip. On the plus side, I enjoyed the description of the marsh and the wildlife but I am afraid all of two legged mammals in the novel were about as subtle as cartoons. Made for a very jarring read with the lovely layered marsh as a background and great galumphing cartoon figures running around all over it. #Audible1

27 people found this helpful

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Wonderful Story Wonderfully Narrated

I really enjoyed this book and how it was narrated. The pace allowed me to visualize the story and the voices made the characters clear. I loved the unfolding of Kaiya’s life.

3 people found this helpful

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Loved It

I loved it! the story was so intriguing and unique. The performance was astounding. I couldn't stop listening.

3 people found this helpful

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I loved every moment of this book

It's been awhile since a book made me cry out loud. Kya had me cheering for her from the start, and crying with pride for her every step of the way. this book did not disappoint me in any way.

3 people found this helpful

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amazing but sad even when its happy

it was an excellent book, amazing unique character, unique setting and keeps you on your toes. could have been shorter but I can appreciate that much of the embellishing was to provide a really strong sense of the setting. It just became tiring at later high-stakes parts of the book. I was getting so stressed that I had to google how it ended ( I have NEVER done that) because the character goes through so much and life is not fair or kind to her, therefore I needed to be prepared regardless of the outcome for her. I felt quite deflated at the low points and the shiny happy parts are few and far between. but still beautiful and pulls you right into the marshes. it's a vivid picture the author presents of the environment and the time period and the narrator delivers the story and characters so well. maybe my mistake was listening to it on my commute, it might be better done in the evening or another leisurely time.

2 people found this helpful

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I stayed up half the night!

I could not stop listening to this story. It was beautiful, heart wrenching, intriguing and the characters were intricate and expressive. I loved the layered plots that unfolded like a great who done it, Leaving you searching for clues and trying to figure out what happened until the very end. A beautiful love story, a murder mystery, and a triumph all rolled into one great novel. I will be looking for more stories from this author.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Kyle
  • 2019-12-03

Don't listen to the negative reviews.

First off, I'm a 29 year old low key nerdy male who watches NBA, NFL, shoots guns, plays basketball, races turbo cars and crotch rockets and loves zombie stuff and horror. This is the first book like this I have read since high school. I hate anything romance, this is a subtle romance book. All the reviews were what led me to this and they did not disappoint. Anyone who has anything negative to say is probably too close minded to accept the sheer brilliance and beauty of this book. The narrator and her accents add so much to the story. The way the author depicts the south makes you feel like you had grown up there and everything is spot on. I guess I could see why someone wouldn't particularly love this but I would just assume they weren't intellectual or philosophical enough to appreciate it, Anyone who likes to step outside their comfort zone and see things from another perspective will like this.

385 people found this helpful

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  • SamanthaG
  • 2018-12-20

I KNEW from the title that this book wasn't for me

...but I wasted a credit on it anyway because it was a choice for Reese Witherspoon's book club and the preponderance of 5-star ratings, which I just don't understand. The premise strains belief; Kya's family abandons her as a child - her father, mother, older sisters and older brother leave her to her own devices in a decrepit shack in the marsh. But somehow, without help, she manages. Her relationship with Chase also doesn't ring true, but that's a necessary part of the story. The writing is pat and cliched. The narration of dialog was awful - very exaggerated and I would say lower class speech, even for the judge and lawyers, who would have been educated and speak with a more scholarly dialect, but the narrator doesn't seem to know the difference. She must not be from these parts or she would know better. Her delivery of the narrative parts of the book was fine and unaccented. Kya's voice never develops any grown-up confidence, even after she becomes a mostly self-educated author of scientific books and and an authority on marsh wildlife; it remains shy and child-like.

139 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2019-04-08

Not sure how this book has such high ratings

I was so bored listening to this book to the point of almost not finishing it. I also had a very hard time with the narrator's voices she chose for the characters. I found it very distracting and really couldn't stand Kya's voice. There was way too much dialogue, slow moving storyline, uninteresting characters, and anticlimactic twist at the end. I know I'm in the minority here, but I just couldn't get into it.

238 people found this helpful

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  • Wayne
  • 2020-06-19

Wonderful novel

First a few words on narration. Cassandra Campbell has such a great range as a narrator going from the Jana DeLeon's Miss Fortune comedic novels to to this novel. She is simply terrific. I'm very late getting to WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING. It is a wonderful novel in every way. I'm fascinated by the negative reviews which dominate the top reviews here at Audible. Pay no attention to those because they are unreasonable and unfair. The average of over 150,000 ratings is 4.8 stars which is richly deserved. Kya (swamp girl) is as compelling a protagonist as any in fiction. The novel covers her life from age 6 to her death six decades later

31 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2019-09-06

Im sorry I wasted a credit on this book

The narrator made this story so hard to listen to. In trying to make the characters sound ignorant, she made them sound like they all had speech impediments. She was slow and drawn out. Her performance really ruined the story for me.

131 people found this helpful

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  • NCLady
  • 2019-03-07

Alright, but dreadfully slow

Beautiful descriptions of coastal NC. Story is a bit implausible. Seems over rated to me, but I can understand why some listeners would really enjoy this book. The geography of North Carolina is a bit off. No one drives from the Outer Banks to Ashville to run errands. That is hundreds of miles. Rocky Mount would be more plausible. Enjoy, if you like this genre.

69 people found this helpful

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  • Lisalou
  • 2019-04-19

Sappy

I probably would have liked the book more if I had read it, but the narrator has a simpering voice with a fake southern accent that I could never get past.

114 people found this helpful

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  • Meg Costa
  • 2020-01-14

Extremely boring

So confused how people think this is anything but boring? I read it because it has been on the best seller list for a while and it was painful to get to the end. I was waiting for it to pick up or there to be a shocking twist but there was none of that. Do not wait waste 12 hours and 12 minutes on a bleh story.

15 people found this helpful

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  • Jeri
  • 2019-04-26

This book drove me nuts

I'm pretty sure this author has never been to North Carolina. It's set on the NC coast and mentions Asheville about a dozen times. Asheville is in the mountains, about an 8-hour drive from the coast. No one would "run to Asheville" from there to buy supplies or a bicycle or a suit. It's just ludicrous. And with all those mentions of a far away mountain town, the Outer Banks are never mentioned at all! Has she even looked at a map of NC? I don't know why the author didn't choose to set this story in her home state of Georgia, where there are also marshes, and where she'd presumably know the geography. I finished this, but it was a struggle. The story was ridiculous in so many ways, and the characters weren't believable. Maybe if I didn't live in NC and wasn't aware of the glaring geographical absurdities, I could overlook some of the book's other faults, but it was just too much for me. The narration annoyed me, too. The breathy, childlike voice she chose for Kya was grating, as was her over-enunciated sing-song performance. I know she's a favorite of many, but I'm not a fan.

192 people found this helpful

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  • S.C.
  • 2019-03-21

Boring

Kept hoping the story would pick up. It was painfully boring. Don’t get all the acclaim...

89 people found this helpful

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  • Heliodora
  • 2020-08-24

Une belle réussite

Le talent de la narratrice met merveilleusement en valeur ce très beau roman. Hymne à la nature à travers un personnage très attachant.

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  • Client d'Amazon
  • 2019-05-28

Sing with the marshgirl

Delia Owens describes the marsh so well and this story of the marsh girl is so realistic you may think it's a true story. All characters are real, living people you may end breathing with them.