Ambelin Kwaymullina & Ezekiel Kwaymullina, Catching Teller Crow , Allen & Unwin, August 2018, 208 pp., RRP $19.99 (pbk), ISBN 9781760631628
Catching Teller Crow is as intriguing and multi-faceted as its title. Part ghost story, part psychological thriller, this gripping tale is told through the perspectives of two teenage Aboriginal protagonists – Beth Teller and Isobel Catching. Alternating between prose and verse, this title is unlike any other you will have read. For first time author duo, brother and sister Ambelin and Ezekiel Kwaymullina, Catching Teller Crow interweaves Aboriginal storytelling, Australia’s colonial history and modern murder mystery.
Beth Teller exists between worlds. Having been killed in a car accident in the month previously, she finds that she cannot move on to find peace until she helps her father accept her passing – and solve a mysterious case of arson and possible murder at a children’s home in a small country town. Only Beth’s father can see her – until they meet witness Isobel ‘Catching’ Catching, who inexplicably sees Beth also, and tells them the dark story of the Fetchers, the Feed and Crow. Is this astonishing story, told in verse, the work of Catching’s mad imagination, or are there hidden clues buried in this non-linear story, where, as Beth’s Grandpa says, “Life doesn’t move through time. Time moves through life.”
Presenting a gripping, intense and moving narrative that does not shy away from the violence, racism and injustices of Australia’s history, Catching Teller Crow is a story of strength and survival. Aimed for a young adult readership, adults alike will find this quick read thought provoking and challenging. Catching Teller Crow is perfect for book clubs and shared reading where the text can be discussed and debated. It is suitable for readers 14 years and older.
Reviewed by Kay Oddone