From the Stacks
By Carol Ann Robb, PPL Reference Librarian

When I picked up “The Music of Bees” two years ago the only thing I knew about it was that the main character was a beekeeper. I just opened the book and was instantly swept up in the story about Elizabeth, Jake, and Harry. It was a heartwarming story that became one of my all-time favorite reads.

So, when I learned that there was a new novel by Eileen Garvin, I used the same M.O., not reading any reviews so nothing would predispose my thoughts about the book. I figured crows would play a role but that was it. I looked forward to discovering another possible favorite book.

Perhaps my expectations were set a little high. Or maybe I wasn’t in the right frame of mind. But, “Crow Talk” is no “Music of Bees.” Not that it’s a bad book but…I like fast-paced books; this one isn’t, possibly because the author describes things in great detail. I wasn’t fond of the back and forth nature of telling the characters’ backstories. I could certainly see the setting (Oregon forests) in my mind’s eye because she drew very precise word pictures.

There are two main characters—Mary Francis (“Frankie”) O’Neill and Anne Ryan—but something seemed off about Frankie from the beginning. Yes, she became more sympathetic as the story (slowly) unfolded but she was no Elizabeth from “Music of Bees.” On the other hand, Anne and her son Aiden were very likeable and I found myself rooting for them. But so many of the secondary characters just weren’t very nice people (though some found redemption by the story’s end).

Hands down, the best part of the book were the crows. I loved learning about their idiosyncrasies and the author did a masterful job weaving crow lore into mini chapters that foreshadowed what lay ahead.

After finishing the book, I checked online reviews and discovered I hold a minority opinion. Most folks raved about the lyrical descriptions, character development, and themes of grief, friendship, and healing.

Yes, “Crow Talk” has all that and is well-written but it just didn’t speak to me (but I didn’t care for “Where the Crawdads Sing” either and this one is so much better compared to it). This isn’t a bad book, just wasn’t the book for me when I read it. Will I recommend it? Sure, it was still better than a lot of books out there.

Give it a try and tell me if you disagree with my opinion. (I suspect you will!)