13 Captivating Books to Read After Where the Crawdads Sing

By Kaitlyn Johnston

These exquisite reads sing just like Owens’ beloved novel.

Delia Owens won over millions of readers with her #1 New York Times bestseller Where the Crawdads Sing — and with the film adaptation of the book playing in theaters this summer, she’s sure to earn many more. Owens’ acclaimed debut takes place in the village of Barkley Cove, nestled along the lush coast of North Carolina. When a local boy turns up dead under mysterious circumstances, locals are quick to pin the blame on Kya — a so-called “Marsh Girl” recluse who lives in the surrounding marshlands. The townspeople never understood this sensitive and self-reliant outsider. While Kya has the naturalist skills to live in isolation forever, she also yearns for companionship. But hiding behind the promise of new beginnings is the threat of disaster.

With its interlacing mystery, evocative setting, and heart-wrenching coming-of-age narrative, Where the Crawdads Sing makes for a transportive read. Searching for a kindred literary experience? We gathered 13 books like Where the Crawdads Sing that will keep you enthralled all summer long.

Saint X

By Alexis Schaitkin

Claire is just seven years old when her older sister, Alison, vanishes while on their family vacation to the Caribbean island of Saint X. A few days later, Alison’s body turns up on a secluded beach. While two men — employees of the resort where Claire’s family had been staying — are arrested on suspicion of murdering Alison, the case is never solved and the suspects are set free due to lack of evidence. Years later, Claire has done her best to move on and begin a new life in New York City. That is, until a chance encounter with Clive Richardson, one of the original suspects, sends her spiraling into an obsessive search for answers, not just about what happened to Alison, but about who her sister really was. Alexis Schaitkin, author of the newly released Elsewhere, delivers a hypnotic and suspenseful read in Saint X — a “smart and socially conscious” (People) literary mystery driven by intelligent characters and richly emotive writing.


Related: Alexis Schaitkin, Author of Elsewhere, on the Timeless Questions of Motherhood

The Marsh King’s Daughter

By Karen Dionne

Karen Dionne’s highly praised The Marsh King’s Daughter is a propulsive psychological thriller that will keep you guessing all the way to its climax. Helena leads a seemingly charmed life with her loving husband and two sweet daughters, but the hidden tragedy of her past is about to surface. Many years ago, a man kidnapped Helena’s mother and held her captive in a cabin in the remote marshlands of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Helena is the offspring of this abduction. Raised by her captor father, Helena is skilled in the art of survival and knows how brutal her dad can be. And now that the so-called Marsh King has broken out of prison and escaped into the wilderness, it’s up to Helena to track him down.

Winter’s Bone

By Daniel Woodrell

In Daniel Woodrell’s Winter’s Bone, 16-year-old Ree Dolly learns that asking too many questions about her family only leads to trouble. But when her dad puts the family home in jeopardy by skipping bail on charges of running a crystal meth lab, Ree knows she has to track him down and bring him back. With two little brothers relying on her, Ree sets out to solve the mystery of her father’s disappearance. To do so, however, she must journey across the Ozark backcountry and into a tight-knit clan that will protect its kin at any cost.

The Wildlands

By Abby Geni

In this celebrated literary thriller from Abby Geni, a category 5 tornado devastates the town of Mercy, Oklahoma, leaving the McCloud children orphaned and homeless. The intense media coverage of the disaster drives a wedge between the siblings; soon brother Tucker abandons his three sisters — Darlene, Jane, and Cora — and vanishes without a trace. Three years later, a bomb goes off at a cosmetics factory outside of Mercy, releasing a horde of lab animals and turning up Tucker, who’s injured and in need of help from his nine-year-old sister, Cora. Entranced by Tucker’s fanatical charm, Cora joins forces with her brother. Together they embark on a cross-country crusade, committing increasingly violent acts against humanity. Meanwhile, Darlene works with authorities to find her missing siblings and piece together Tucker’s ultimate goal. Movingly told, The Wildlands is a finely crafted environmental thriller that examines the charged space between human civilization and the wild world.

The Kingdoms of Savannah

By George Dawes Green

George Dawes Green beckons the reader down the beguiling backstreets of Savannah, Georgia, in The Kingdoms of Savannah. When a young man is murdered and his companion vanishes, society queen Morgana Musgrove is tasked with cracking the case. Morgana isn’t your typical amateur sleuth; her imperious manner evokes both obedience and wariness in others, including her four adult children. Nevertheless, Morgana soon enlists her progeny to help her with the investigation. Together they’ll journey far beyond the charming mansions and romantic town squares of Savannah and into its seamy underbelly, where dark truths will be revealed. The Kingdoms of Savannah is a rich and mesmerizing new tale that weaves together complex family drama and an evocative setting with a spellbinding mystery. You’ll find yourself lured into the narrative by Dawes Green’s finely detailed portrait of the Hostess City, shadows and all.

The Great Alone

By Kristen Hannah

In Kristen Hannah’s #1 New York Times bestselling The Great Alone, the Allbright family seeks new horizons in the Alaskan frontier. When Ent Allbright returns from the Vietnam War, he’s a troubled and volatile man. After losing yet another job, he gathers his wife Cora and young daughter Leni and together they head north, into the wilds of Alaska. The off-grid community they discover up there helps the Allbrights endure their first few months. But as winter sets in, Ent’s fragile state collapses — and Cora and Leni realize that they must fend for themselves if they hope to survive. Hannah artfully sets the Allbright family’s personal crisis against the towering events of post-Vietnam America and Alaska’s epic wilderness, delivering an “atmospheric novel [that] examines humans’ will to endure the unthinkable” (Real Simple).

The Snow Child

By Eowyn Ivey

Eowyn Ivey’s captivating novel takes place in early-20th-century Alaska, where new arrivals Jack and Mabel are homesteading in the unforgiving wilderness. Their relationship is strained by the pressures of working the land and the loneliness of their childless existence. When the first snow of the season falls, however, their mood brightens — together they fashion a child out of the fallen snow. The following morning, the couple encounters a child racing through the snowy woods. She calls herself Faina, and she somehow survives alone in the wilderness with a fox at her side. Enchanted, Jack and Mabel welcome the magical wild child into their lives. But there’s more to Faina than meets the eye, and what they learn will transform them all. The Snow Child is a dazzling read from start to finish, guiding you along with stunning detail and vivid depictions of Alaska’s backcountry.

Golden Child

By Claire Adam

In rural Trinidad, a tight-knit family strives to build a better life. Patriarch Clyde exhausts himself working to support his family, while matriarch Joy maintains the home. The couple’s twin boys, Paul and Peter, who share little in common besides a birthday, make the long trek to school each morning. When Paul walks into the bush one day and fails to return, Clyde sets out to find his wayward son. But as the days stretch on and his search turns up nothing, Clyde begins to realize that his family has been forever changed. A harrowing story of familial survival, with a captivating setting to match, Claire Adam’s Golden Child is a powerful narrative suffused with affecting details of the Trinidadian landscape.

Where the Forest Meets the Stars

By Glendy Vanderah

Glendy Vanderah’s bestselling Where the Forest Meets the Stars is a stunning debut with vivid depictions of Illinois’s rural landscape. After the death of her mother and her own battle with breast cancer, Joanna plunges into the rigors and routine of her graduate research on nesting birds. But when a young girl named Ursa appears at Joanna’s research cabin, bruised and filthy and claiming to have been sent by the stars to witness five miracles, Joanna’s life is flipped yet again. With the help of her hermitlike neighbor Gabriel, Joanna strives to piece together the mystery of the child. Soon, the unlikely trio form a bond. Yet as the fifth miracle begins to take shape, so too do staggering truths about Ursa and the group, bringing dark secrets into the light and deciding the fates of all three figures.

My Abandonment

By Peter Rock

My Abandonment by Peter Rock follows 13-year-old Caroline and her father as they carve out a life in Forest Park, a sprawling nature preserve just outside downtown Portland, Oregon. They call a cave shelter their home and live largely off the land, heading into town once a week to buy food and supplies. One mistake, though, exposes their under-the-radar existence, forcing them into a greater fight for their futures. Told from Caroline’s perspective, My Abandonment tenderly traces her journey as she and her father reckon with the fallout of being caught and navigate their harsh new reality.

Where the Line Bleeds

By Jesmyn Ward

Jesmyn Ward’s acclaimed debut is a beautiful tale of brotherly love, family strife, and growing up in the South. The novel takes place over one transformative summer in the small Gulf Coast town of Bois Sauvage, where twins Joshua and Christophe have just finished high school and are making the transition into the adult world. Jobs are hard to find in the wake of Hurricane Katrina: While Joshua manages to secure work on the docks, Christophe turns to dealing drugs, beginning a downward spiral. When the twins’ parents reappear in their lives after many years away, their addict father Sandman goads Christophe into a life-altering confrontation. Elegantly crafted, Where the Line Bleeds delivers a “lyrical yet clear-eyed portrait of a rural South and an African American reality that are rarely depicted” (Boston Globe).

The Round House

By Louise Erdrich

In her National Book Award–winning novel, Louise Erdrich combines a powerful coming-of-age tale with a gripping family mystery and a richly detailed picture of modern Ojibwe culture. The Round House is set on an Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota in 1988. It’s here that Geraldine Coutts is brutally attacked. Traumatized by her experience, she’s reluctant to discuss her ordeal or reveal her attacker. As official investigations stall, Bazil Coutts, Geraldine’s husband and a tribal elder, conducts his own search for the truth. Meanwhile, Joe, Geraldine and Bazil’s 13-year-old son, sets out with his friends to get some answers of his own, all while being thrust into the cruel realities of adulthood at an all-too-early age.

Once Upon a River

By Bonnie Jo Campbell

In her national bestseller, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, Bonnie Jo Campbell introduces us to an unflinching young heroine named Margo Crane. After losing her father to a violent death, 16-year-old Margo sets off down the river in search of her mother — armed with little more than an Annie Oakley biography and her expert rifle skills. Margo’s winding river voyage through rural Michigan takes her many places, teaching her valuable lessons about self-preservation and overcoming her limitations. Campbell’s lush prose and propulsive pacing will keep you riveted as you follow Margo’s moving journey into adulthood.

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