Review // Catching Teller Crow

Title: Catching Teller Crow
Author: Ambelin Kwaymullina & Ezekiel Kwaymullina
Published: September 2018
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Readership: Young Adult #loveozya
Genre: Mystery, Paranormal
Rating: ★★★★★
RRP: $19.99 AUD

I received a copy of Catching Teller Crow from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

A totally addictive ghost story, crime story and thriller, told half in prose and half in verse, from two of the most exciting Aboriginal voices in Australia.

Nothing’s been the same for Beth Teller since she died. Her dad, a detective, is the only one who can see and hear her – and he’s drowning in grief. But now they have a mystery to solve together. Who is Isobel Catching, and what’s her connection to the fire that killed a man? What happened to the people who haven’t been seen since the fire? As Beth unravels the mystery, she finds a shocking story lurking beneath the surface of a small town, and a friendship that lasts beyond one life and into another.

Told in two unforgettable voices, this gripping novel interweaves themes of grief, colonial history, violence, love and family.

I first read Ambelin Kwaymullina two years ago when I picked up The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf and was blown away by her storytelling, and the way she blended the young adult dystopian world with the traditional Aboriginal stories. Catching Teller Crow is a different sort of story, but it’s no less powerful or beautifully written and I know it’s going to stay with me for a long time, and definitely make it on to my list of favourite books of 2018.

We begin Catching Teller Crow shadowing Beth Teller and her detective father – it might seem like any other story, only Beth Teller is dead and only her father can see or hear her. Everything seems to have gone wrong for their family, and yet Beth is determined to look after her father, and when he is sent out to investigate a mysterious death in a small town, they find themselves having to solve a mystery neither one expected.

This book has atmosphere and story in spades, and it’s a book that you’ll pick up and not put down until it’s done because the story gets beneath your skin. All of the characters are fascinating – a dead girl who hasn’t move on, her father who’s grieving and the mysterious Isobel Catching who’s story threatens to undo a town. As the blurb states, it’s a story of ‘grief, colonial history, violence, love and family.’

I particularly adored the way the Kwaymullina’s used narrative and verse to highlight the differences between the character point of views. Beth’s narrative and Isobel’s verse were stark contrasts to where the characters are in their lives and serve to heighten the mystery of what is real and what isn’t.

I also really loved the connection that Beth and her father have, and the importance placed on family, and connection to family. After her death, her father pushed away the remaining relatives and Beth recognises how important it is for him to reconnect even when he can’t and that thread is woven through the story beautifully.

I am so glad I read this and I know it’s one I will not only revisit, but recommend (or shove) at as many people as I can, because I think everyone should read it.

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