Cover Image: The Crane Husband

The Crane Husband

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“The Crane Husband” is a mesmerizing modern retelling of “The Crane Wife,” showcasing the enduring power of love and sacrifice. With poetic prose and a fiercely determined teenage protagonist, this poignant novel explores the complexities of family, art, and the transformative nature of storytelling. A beautifully woven tale that lingers in the reader’s heart long after the final page.

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I love a good fairy tale retelling, and seeing this highly original twist of a classic Japanese folkstory I knew I had to request it.

When a young girl's mother brings home a crane, insisting that he be called Father, she knows that something is not right. And when her mother starts to show bruises and scratches, the girl is forced to confront what she's willing to do to keep her family safe.

I don't even know if I can articulate how I feel about this story. It was brutal in it's descriptions of domestic violence, and the ramifications that the girl and her younger brother are forced to deal with. The emotions are raw and sharp as the girl is forced more and more to raise her brother, run the household, the finances, her mother's business, everything, as her mother retreats more and more from life. Even as I was wishing that the girl had any kind of support, beyond the disinterested teachers and a well meaning social worker, I admired her tenacity and her protectiveness of her brother. I could read a whole additional novella of the life she builds for herself at the end of this tale.

I understand that not all stories end happily or neatly, but I do wish that there had been some sliver of hope towards the end. There was some aspects I liked about the very end, but it ultimately left me feeling melancholy and unsatisfied.

My thanks to Macmillan-Tor/Forge for this ARC.

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I honestly don’t know how to review this one. I’m really struggling to articulate my thoughts and explain what I read.

So I think to start I’ll just say – this was a 5 star read for me. Okay, done, end of review 😊

But seriously, this was such a strange, different, mesmerising, haunting, sad…..did I say strange……read. I’ve temporarily run out of adjectives.

It’s honestly hard to say anything that makes sense. The Crane Husband is the retelling of a Japanese myth, The Crane Wife….and full disclosure, I’ve never read it, in fact I’m not even sure if I’ve heard of it.
To be honest, I fell in love with the cover. Yes, feel free to judge!!

The Crane Husband is the story of a 15 year old girl, I’m not sure we even ever know her name, her younger brother and her slightly eccentric artsy mother who makes a living off selling her beautiful and unique tapestries. Her father died and the farmland they once owned has been taken over by a multinational company that has drones which have pretty much taken on what the local farmers used to do.

One day her mother comes home with an injured crane that she takes care of with an abundance of love and tenderness, insistent on nursing him to health until he is well. It’s not long though before the crane seeps into every part of their lives, shedding its feathers throughout, as the mother starts to neglect her own children and her own welfare in favour of ensuring the crane has everything he needs and is kept healthy and strong.

The story is a truly unique look at domestic violence, childhood trauma and neglect and whilst utterly heartbreaking at the same time it is utterly mesmerising.

The Crane Husband definitely won’t be for everyone, again, I’m really struggling here to do it justice, but I’m so glad I picked this one up. It really was an outstandingly well written book.

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This is a very moving and heartbreaking story all wrapped up in less than 100 pages. It’s a dark and grim reimagining of the crane wife folktale which my knowledge of is slim. It’s dark, brutal, trigger warnings galore around abuse but in a short time, no emotion was wasted. Every scene is critical in building to the climax of the story, and the writing is filled throughout with memorable lines and insights about human nature. It was hauntingly beautiful, very unsettling. the weirdness of the story is worked in really well and the magical realism aspects fit well with the harsh reality.
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"The Crane Husband" by Kelly Barnhill is the retelling of the Japanese folktale, “The Crane Wife,” which is a cautionary tale about lost love with a setting in the modern Midwestern United States.

The plot in this story is a sad, yet a familiar one many of us have heard of—and few have experienced firsthand. The patriarch dies, the widow withdraws from society, and the children are left to fend for themselves. Then one day, a stranger arrives, and the mother gives him all of her attention to the point where she neglects her family even more. Unfortunately, by this point, the authorities have been informed which leads to the worse thing happening about to happen. Amongst family trauma, neglect, responsibility, fear, and crane feathers, the protagonist takes matters into her hands, with dire yet predictable consequences.

"The Crane Husband" is the cautionary tale and reimagined folktale we didn’t know we needed. Kelly Barnhill demonstrates she can present a poignant story of any length with enough emotional impact to leave her audience grieving for ALL of the victims in the book. This story is NOT what you’re expecting it to be, but it is an excellent one presented with the right length.

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I recently read The Crane Husband by Kelly Barnhill, a stunning contemporary retelling of “The Crane Wife”, and enjoyed it immensely...

This novella is about a fifteen-year-old teenager who is the backbone of her small Midwestern family. She budgets the household finances and raises her younger brother while her mom, a talented artist, weaves beautiful tapestries. Things take an unusual turn when the girl’s mom brings home a six-foot tall crane with a menacing air. Despite her daughter’s apprehension, the mother falls in love with the bird and abandons everything around her to weave the masterpiece that the crane demands. The story is beautifully written with metaphors and magical realism woven together seamlessly.

The cover on this book is just gorgeous, as are all of Barnhill’s books that I’ve seen. This was such a melancholy novella but also very powerful. Barnhill tackles heavy subjects such as domestic violence and child neglect through this reimagining of “The Crane Wife”. My only real niggle about the novella is that it is unrelentingly sad. Throughout reading it I wished there had been just a glimpse of happiness for the young lady and her brother. Especially in the end, when we get a glimpse of their future.

Overall, I highly recommend The Crane Husband to anyone looking for a quick but deeply impactful read.

**ARC Via NetGalley**

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Kelly Barnhill’s The Crane Husband is on its surface, a rather bizarre tale. But the story of a struggling family of three whose artistic, indifferent mother brings home an abusive, six-foot-tall crane as a lover, itself a response—Barnhill herself likes the word “interrogation”—of the folk tale “The Crane Wife” holds surprising depths.

A grim fairytale for grown-ups with sharp emotional edges and knife-bright prose, The Crane Husband wrestles with both contemporary themes and age-old questions of love, duty, and identity these sorts of stories have always existed to explore. And the answers it offers will likely stay with you well past the slim (though certainly not thin) novella’s last pages.

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I love a novella that gives you just enough to fall in love, but is something you can just eat up in one sitting. The Crane Husband is a perfect book for someone who is wanting a dark fairytale to quench that witchy thirst! Highly recommend this one and I will read anything Kelly Barnhill writes from now until forever.

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An extraordinarily touching and inventive retelling of a well known folk tale. Mournful and lyrical, this one has haunted me long after reading it.

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The Crane Husband is a retelling of The Crane Wife. In Barnhill’s version, an unnamed fifteen-year-old girl is the backbone of her family after her father dies. She takes care of her younger brother and manages the household finances while her mom earns money weaving beautiful tapestries Her mom is creative and flighty, occasionally having overnight guests but none that have stayed. Everything changes when her mom brings home a huge crane and falls in love with him to the point of abandoning everything to focus on what the crane wants and demands. There is such a sense of despair and impending doom as the kids notice bruises on their mom more and more often and eventually the teenager realizes that if she and her brother are going to survive, she’ll have to take matters into her own hands.

This is a deeply disturbing story of what happens when your parent is trapped in a cycle of abuse and you feel like you have no control but to watch as your family’s lives are destroyed by a monster. It isn’t a happy story, there’s no happy ending and it's difficult to read because of the abuse and child neglect, but it’s also profound and important.

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The Crane Husband is a sort of retelling/answer to the traditional story "The Crane Wife". The main character is the daughter of an artist, who is startled when their mother's usual life is disrupted by the arrival of a huge crane that she orders the children to call "Father". The story is told by the daughter as she watches what is happening to her mother, and decides how to best protect the family.

It's worth noting right here that the story deals with domestic abuse, and there's also quite a lot of negativity around sex (the girl's mother is considered promiscuous, and so is she by extension). Beware of that if any of it is triggering for you!

I found the story enjoyable, and liked Barnhill's style: she portrays the relationship between the siblings particularly well, without the narrator having to explicitly say "I love my brother", or "I loved my dad", etc. She shows that in the way the character acts, in the memories she recounts for the reader.

I liked the ending, too; it's unclear whether the cycle is broken, with temptation right outside the window... but if anyone will, this girl will.

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The Crane Husband is a novella about a teen girl trying to hold her family together as her artist mother fades away while in an abusive relationship.

This book packs a punch as you follow a young girl trying to take care of her younger brother and mother, which she promised her father she would do. It has a dystopian feel as the family lives on part of a farm and the rest of the farm land has been commercialized and is protected by flying, violent drones.

Barnhill's writing is fantastic and the exploration of domestic violence, abuse, motherhood, and family is haunting and relevant. The Crane Husband is one of the best novellas I've read in a while, and I'd highly recommend it.

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This was fascinating. I loved the folklore quality to it. A short and sweet retelling about family and being an older siblings, which I know very well.

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Thank you so much for the opportunity to read The Crane Husband by Kelly Barnhill. I loved Patrick Ness' The Crane Wife, which was a retelling of the same tale & I thought Kelly Barnhill did an amazing retelling as well. The strangeness of the tale was are in a time and place which is both recognizable and not and then you have this Crane Husband, both recognizable and not. For me, as the reader, I felt a little off-balance but the setting made the main part of the tale less difficult to believe. Like others, I felt like this was a sad tale but the writing was really beautiful. I feel like readers who enjoy literary fantasy or magic realism would like this story a lot. Also, that cover is just gorgeous.

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The Crane Husband fit two different categories that I enjoy: magical realism and folk tale retellings. Horror isn't usually my cup of tea, but Barnhill's storytelling won me over. Recommended.

TW: domestic violence

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This was quite heavy emotionally. There were some really intense moments and I found myself getting really scared for the siblings as the story progressed. If you're planning on reading it, I would definitely recommend checking the trigger warnings beforehand. That being said, the writing was really great. It was atmospheric and there was a constant anxious feeling to the story that really kept me on edge. I appreciated that the author didn't shy away from the darker aspects of the story and really leaned into the emotional weight of it all. Overall, I would recommend this book if you're looking for a powerful, emotionally impactful story with great writing and a constant sense of tension. Just be prepared for some heavy themes and difficult moments.

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This book was so addictive. While the writing was cut and dry at times, it was also beautifully poetic for such a grim story. This book takes on topics of child neglect and domestic abuse written in a way that makes this book incredibly impactful.

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- thank you to netgalley and the publisher for an arc to review!

- the novel for me was very scattered, with the writing style and the description of the crane husband confusing me to no end. the writing style was repetitive and lackluster, filled with descriptions i felt i had seen already in the novel. it didn’t help that i lacked a connection with the narrator, as she felt very absent and lifeless throughout the work.

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I found this difficult to read at first but I kept on going and I am really glad I continued! Very interesting story of grief and loss!!! And the characters were very relatable!

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“It’s a lot more work to cause harm to someone who mistrusts you, or fears you. Or hates you. Love opens the city gates wide, and allows all manner of horrors right inside.”

The Crane Husband is the tale of a mother and her daughter and son in the midwestern rural USA. You are invited into their lives after the death of their father and as their mother invited the large male sized Adult Crane to live with them. Saying that he’s to be their new ‘Father’ and that she loves him but all isn’t what it seems. And you are invited to watch their spiral down into abuse and neglect at his hands.

Kelly Barnhill’s new novella ‘The Crane Husband’ was quick and easy read, but personally I found it to be a very emotional. This book is listed as General Fiction (Adult), but I would call this also a Fantasy or speculative fiction narrative as well. I will start by saying this book is beautifully written, containing elements of fairy tale like story telling. TRIGGER WARNING, the narrative contains instances of domestic abuse and child neglect.This book invites the reader on an emotional rollercoaster ride, that once strapped in your invited to witness first hand the thoughts inside the mind of 15 year old girl from midwestern rural USA. I did like this book, but for me, as a survivor of domestic abuse, it was a very sad and emotional ride, in which the reader will feel a loss of control and helplessness as they can do nothing to help the children or mother from the Crane.

I was sent The Crane Husband by Macmillan-Tor/Forge as a Arc Review Copy through Netgalley. I liked the story alot, but I wouldn’t read it again because it brought up too many negative memories and emotions. Contemporary retelling of “ The Crane Wife”, which I’ll admit I’ve never read, so I cannot say anything about how this compares to that book.

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