Saturday 25 November 2023

Book Review: The Crane Husband by Kelly Barnhill (Fiction/Magical Realism)

Title: The Crane Husband
Author: Kelly Barnhill
Publisher: Tor
Publication Date: 28 February 2023
Pages: 118
Format: Hardback
Genre: Fiction/Magical Realism
Source: Borrowed from Library

“Mothers fly away like migrating birds. This is why farmers have daughters.”

A fifteen-year-old teenager is the backbone of her small Midwestern family, budgeting the household finances and raising her younger brother while her mom, a talented artist, weaves beautiful tapestries. For six years, it’s been just the three of them—her mom has brought home guests at times, but none have ever stayed.

Yet when her mom brings home a six-foot tall crane with a menacing air, the girl is powerless to prevent her mom letting the intruder into her heart, and her children’s lives. Utterly enchanted and numb to his sharp edges, her mom abandons the world around her to weave the masterpiece the crane demands.


The Crane Husband is an interesting book that is part retelling of The Crane Wife, part metaphorical take on abusive relationships. It is a quick read but a dark one, with a horror element underlying the narrative. It is an atmospheric and at times claustrophobic piece despite the constant references to flight and escape, and the ending was oddly pleasing regardless of its dark nature. I enjoyed this book, but it's not one that I'd ever rush to reread. As such, I am giving it four stars. Recommended if you like dark retellings and metaphorical tales with a dash of horror.

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