Like George Duncan’s daughter Amanda, who once managed, amusingly, to do the entire Louvre in less than an hour, I am not typically the type to be “Moved By Art,” yet The Crane Wife truly touched me. Which is to say—sure—I laughed, and I cried... but before it was over, I also felt like I’d lived another life, and died a little inside.
That’s how powerful Patrick Ness’ new novel is. And it begins as brilliantly as it finishes, with a minor yet monumental moment: a pristine prologue wherein we glimpse something of ourselves alongside something utterly other.
Keenly feeling his advancing years, George awakens in the wee hours one night, naked and needing to pee. Whilst attending to his business in the bathroom, however, he is startled by an unearthly sound: “a mournful shatter of frozen midnight falling to earth to pierce his heart and lodge there forever, never to move, never to melt.” Curious, he follows this call to its point of origin, only to find that a crane has landed in his garden; a wounded one, with an arrow, of all things, shot through one of its wings.