Excerpt from The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Crane Wife

By Patrick Ness

The Crane Wife
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Hardcover: Jan 2014,
    320 pages.
    Paperback: 30 Dec 2014,
    320 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


The man was now naked from the waist up, kneeling in frozen grass, on a clear night in a cold season that could very well kill him if he stayed. He worked as quickly as he could, keeping the crane's injured wing unfurled in a vertical from the ground. He – along with conceivably everyone else in the entire world – had only ever seen arrow injuries in the movies. The rescuers always broke the arrow and pulled it out the other side. Was this even the right thing to do?

'Okay,' the man whispered, taking hold of the arrow's end in one hand and slowly letting go of the injured wing with the other, so that all that was holding up the crane's wing was the arrow itself, now in both his hands.

It felt shocking against his fingertips, even though they were quickly numbing in the cold. The wood was surprisingly light, as it would have to be for an arrow, but still signifying strength with every inch. He looked for a weak spot, found none, and felt increasingly sure of his inability to break it, certainly of his inability to break it without having to try several times and cause the creature unthinkable agony.

'Oh, no,' the man mumbled to himself again, starting to shiver uncontrollably now. 'Oh, shit.'

He glanced down. It looked back at him with that golden eye, unblinking, its neck curved against his coat like a question mark.

There was no solution then. It was too cold. He was too cold. The arrow obviously too thick and strong. It might as well have been made of iron. The crane was going to die. This reed made of stars was going to die right here, in his sad little back garden.

A tidal wave of failure washed over him. Was there another way? Was there any other way at all? He turned back to the door to his kitchen, still open, letting out every bit of meagre warmth from the house. Could he carry the crane back inside? Could he lift it and get it there without hurting it further?

The crane, for its part, seemed to have already given up on him, to have already judged him, as so many others had, as a pleasant enough man, but lacking that certain something, that extra little ingredient to be truly worth investing in. It was a mistake women often seemed to make. He had more female friends, including his ex-wife, than any straight man he knew. The trouble was they'd all started out as lovers, before realising that he was too amiable to take quite seriously. 'You're about sixty-five per cent,' his ex-wife had said, as she left him. 'And I think seventy is probably my minimum.' The trouble was, seventy per cent seemed to be every woman's minimum.

Seventy seemed to be the crane's minimum, too. It had made the same mistake as all the others, seeing a man when, upon closer inspection, he was only really a guy.

'I'm sorry,' he said to the crane, tears coming again. 'I'm so sorry.'

 

The arrow moved unexpectedly in his hands. The crane, seemingly in an involuntary shudder, nudged its wing forward and the arrow slid through the man's fingers.

And stopped.

The man felt something. A small crack in the wood of the arrow. He looked closer. It was hard to see in such dim light, but yes, definitely a crack, one big enough to follow even with frozen fingertips. It spliced through the shaft, no doubt broken there by the struggles of the crane's great wing. The man could even feel that the arrow was at slightly different angles on either side of it.

He looked back down at the crane. It regarded him, thinking who knew what.

An accident, surely. Absurd to think that the animal would have led his fingers to it.

But also absurd that a crane with an arrow through its wing had landed in his back garden.

He said, 'I'll try.'

He gripped the side of the arrow closest to the pierced wing and held it as steadily as he could. He took the other end in his fist near the crack. The cold was so fierce now that he was feeling actual pain in his hands. It would have to be now. It would have to be right now.

Copyright © 2013 by Patrick Ness

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  The Legend of the Crane Wife

Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    Mrs. Hemingway
    by Naomi Wood
    Naomi Wood's latest novel, Mrs. Hemingway, is a fictionalized biography covering in turn writer...
  • Book Jacket
    The Stranger on the Train
    by Abbie Taylor
    The opening chapter of Abbie Taylor's debut novel, The Stranger on the Train, took me right back to ...
  • Book Jacket
    Night Film
    by Marisha Pessl
    One of the central tenets of Hinduism states that the world as we know it is just an illusion –...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

Tomlinson Hill
by Chris Tomlinson

Published Jul. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  162The City:
    Dean Koontz

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.