The Crane Husband by Kelly Barnhill

The Crane Husband is a brilliant and lyrical retelling of The Crane Wife.


An unnamed fifteen-year-old girl lives with her mother and younger brother on the remains of what used to be family farmland. Now, an intimidating conglomerate owns the farmlands that surround their crumbling property.

While her mother works on her art to pay the bills, our heroine takes care of her brother and household matters.

One day, the girl’s mother returns home wrapped in the arms of a human-sized crane. It’s not unusual for her mother to bring home new partners since her father’s passing, so the girl assumes their affair will be just as fleeting. However, she soon realizes her mother is completely infatuated with the crane, who exudes a menacing air. The girl watches as her mother makes herself small while creating a masterpiece of art at the crane’s behest.

Review of The Crane Husband

This short novel is both harrowing and beautifully written. I love magical realism, and this was no exception.

It discusses domestic violence quite a bit, so some readers may find it triggering. While it touches on dark subject matter, it is easy to become wholly enraptured reading this tale.

As the reader, you know what’s going on, but it’s oddly satisfying watching the main character fit all the pieces together and take her mother’s teachings to heart.

While I enjoyed The Girl Who Drank the Moon, I didn’t love it nearly as much as this one.

If you like dark folk/fairytale retellings, I’m almost positive you’ll enjoy this weird little gem as well.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Expected Publication: 28 February 2023

Thank you to Tordotcom for providing me with an arc via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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