Book Review: Crow Country by Kate Constable

‘Beginning and ending, always the same, always now. The game, the story, the riddle, hiding and seeking. Crow comes from this place; this place comes from Crow. And Crow has work for you.’


Sadie isn’t thrilled when her mother drags her from the city to live in the country town of Boort. But soon she starts making connections – connections with the country, with the past, with two boys, Lachie and Walter, and, most surprisingly, with the ever-present crows.
When Sadie is tumbled back in time to view a terrible crime, she is pulled into a strange mystery. Can Sadie, Walter and Lachie figure out a way to right old wrongs, or will they be condemned to repeat them?

Crow Country is a little bit magic. When you hold the actual book in your hand you’ll feel a beautiful embossing on the cover – the skeletons of leaves – they take shape beneath your fingers before your eyes have quite noticed them. Similarly, the story of Sadie appears to be ordinary, but quickly becomes anything but. Sadie slips in and out of time, witnessing past events that have shaped the community of Boort more than its residents would care to admit. It’s contemporary fiction and historical fiction, family drama meets murder mystery, all carefully blended with Constable’s magic touch.

What I particularly loved about Crow Country was how it presents sensitive indigenous issues, as well as universal themes, with absolute grace and respect. At our booktalkers event this week Constable reported that she was very concerned about being accurate and authentic in telling an indigenous Australian story. Her manuscript was reviewed by an Aboriginal elder prior to publication, and the protagonist Sadie is, like Constable herself, approaching the culture from an “outsiders” perspective. Constable’s portrayal of indigenous mythology, through the character of the crow, is eerie and beautiful. It also extends far beyond one culture – at the core the story is about belonging, and it is about respect. We all come from somewhere, we are all a part of some country, we are all just one species on this limited resource we call Earth. Constable taps into a yearning to be a part of something bigger than your own fleshy boundaries, whether that something bigger is about belonging within your family, your community, or to your physical environment. Constable also explores the pain of displacement – from Sadie’s unexpected relocation from Melbourne to Boort, to the colonisation of Australia and subsequent displacement of its indigenous population.

Despite dealing with some serious and sombre issues, Crow Country is not a difficult read. It is poignant but not painful, contemplative but not complicated. It has football, motorbikes, time slips, and friendships. So far it’s been shortlisted for the WA Premier’s Literary Award, the 2012 CBCA Book of the Year Award for Younger Readers, and the Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature (Children’s Literature). Recommend for middle grade readers and older, who want a bit of magic and mystery.

Allen & Unwin

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COMMENTS (16)

  1. Miarose says:

    Crow Country is a very good book. I am reading it for a book club that a friend from school has started. It is a very good book and I hope that even more people can read this wonderful book!!!

  2. Alex says:

    I did not like Crow Country, I found it boring and complicated. I did not understand the story line and found it all a bit too confusing to actually enjoy it.

  3. Mike Hunt says:

    This book has a terrible storyline with bland adjective I rate it an 0.1/10

    • Cynthia Kenway says:

      I agree, I think that it could have structured better. But some teens can relate to Sadie’s behaviour.

    • Twadi says:

      Crow country is the best book ever I’m reading it with my classmates and it is the best mystery book ever I like Walter and Waah

  4. Kate says:

    i hated the book so much, it was very hard to understand!

  5. Amber says:

    This book was assigned to our class as a project. At first i was confused by the storyline and reluctant to read. I then started relating Sadie to me and visualised Boort as my small town, South Arm. I now feel positive on the book and are glad that my teacher forced me to read this!

  6. Holly says:

    crow country is a confusing book and I thought it was good at the start till it got very confusing and I was reluctant to read any further

    • just cause you didn’t like the first bit of the book doesn’t mean you’ll hate the rest of it, it gets better near the end of the book. so just start reading it from the part you left out end read to the end. you never know you might enjoy it

  7. Connor says:

    I do not like this book at all

  8. i loved this book it tells us about the aboriginal culture I had to do an essay on it and to find some quotes it was challenging

    • Neven says:

      Hey can you tell me summary of the book about Crow

  9. Blade says:

    hey I found this book quite interesting as I would fall asleep and take 9 months to read the first 5 chapters good book for all

  10. Thomas says:

    I’m worried about Sadie. She can understand a crow and thinks it can time travel.

    With amazing plot features such as a time travelling 12 year old drug addict, a supernatural crow that speaks in third person, some random aboriginal and a bunch of dried up stones.

  11. Smal Tim Tam Nuygen says:

    THe book is great our english teacher mr mendal read the book to us. I loved the bool

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