The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness

9780857868718Bestselling and award winning writer Patrick Ness is probably best known for his YA writing and his ability to make me cry. While The Crane Wife takes him to different extremes, bizarrely this new novel actually holds a few similarities with his other writings. This predominately appears within the folklore feeling that abounds this story and transforms what would usually be a contemporary piece of fiction into a fairy-tale. This is magical realism at its height. Man helps Crane recover in his garden, Crane magically becomes the centre of his world as a beautiful woman. It is a story that imaginations were created for.

Ness is retelling a folk tale and placing it in the modern world. One night, George is woken in the middle of the night by an odd and misplaced sound. Upon venturing into his garden he discovers a beautifully perfect white crane that has seemingly plunged to earth after an injury. Once George helps the crane, his life will never be the same again. Kimiko walks into George’s shop and from that moment the novel becomes a surreal dreamscape that contains humour, passion and ethereal themes.

Kimiko becomes a centre point in which the plot, characters and metaphor revolves around. She is a puzzle to be unravelled within the journey from first page to last and while she appeals in many aspects, at times the vagueness of her personality can grate. In fact, the same can be said for the entire book. Ness’ writing twists and turns with grace and pirouettes through glorious prose, however there are aspects to the plot where the surreal becomes a little too much. This is mostly towards the close of the book as all the intricacies of Patrick’s ideas come to a head.

It’s an enigmatic novel that captures the heart despite the small flaws in the construction. While I floundered a little towards the tail end I still found myself utterly enamoured by the flow of the writing and the prose chosen by a talented wordsmith. The reader falls for Ness’ abilities in the same way the cast falls for Kimiko, it becomes passion between reader and writer – Between ordinary and magical.

Published by Canongate. This book was kindly sent for review by the publisher.


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