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Presented by State Library Victoria

Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley: A love letter


Dear fellow bookworms,

To honour this book, I am writing my review as a love letter. Unfortunately, I couldn’t place it in between the pages of a second-hand book or scribble it in the margins of my library copy of ‘Words in Deep Blue’, however it brings me great comfort to think that the internet – for all it’s flaws – is as used, dog-eared and cherished (perhaps obsessed over would be more accurate) as any of the books in the letter library of Howling books. So here goes… My first love letter… to a book.

 “Sometimes science isn’t enough. Sometimes you need the poets.”

Call it what you will… The science of poetry, the poetry of science, the key to my heart. No matter your interpretation, no matter if you read this book upside down or sideways or backwards, two facts are irrefutable.

1.‘Words in Deep Blue’ is a beautiful masterpiece


  1. Cath Crowley is master puppeteer of my heartstrings.

But seriously. If this book doesn’t make those of you with self-proclaimed souls of pitch-blackness melt just a little bit, then I have been living in an alternate universe for the past few years and Donald Trump isn’t the President of the USA.

This is a story about love and loss. About Howling books, a snug second-hand book store where, nestled behind shelves of well-worn memories sits something called ‘The Letter Library’; a little collection of unborrowable books where readers can write love letters, poems or small messages and slip them into their favourites.

And sometimes, someone… anyone leaves a reply.

The Letter Library was EASILY one of my favourite parts of the book, and as a highly sentimental and invested reader, the idea of sharing lives, love and experiences through the pages of a well-loved book was so whimsically romantic and melancholy (the latter because there is no way this could exist in the reality as peacefully as it does in the fictional world).

The book is mainly about two characters, the first being Henry Jones, whose family owns Howling books and who is languishing in the throes of a post-breakup slump. His girlfriend Amy has left him (again), the store is on the verge of being sold, and his former best friend Rachel has come back to Melbourne after having left three years ago on uncertain terms. The second is Rachel Sweetie, who’s soul has been shattered with the death her brother, Cal. After being unable to save him as he drowned in an unforgiving ocean, she is turning her back on swimming and the water to move inland in the hope that leaving his killer behind will mend her brokenness. This means facing the consequences of confronting Henry and her unrequited love.

Told through interweaving love letters, poetry, prose and quotes, Cath Crowley’s writing pulses with equal measures of heart-breaking grief, undiluted joy and everything in between. If I was Cath Crowley and I was describing my own writing, I would say something along the lines of this.

“The beauty of this book is an exponential curve heading for the stars, only to yawn and expand further until it fills your sky and it’s all you can see, smell, touch and taste.”

Or something like this

“It is as if the words on their own are little plain ink people seated in little plain paper chairs. But together? Holding hands and acknowledging people outside their own miniscule world? That, my friend is the Mexican wave of the heart. That, my friend is called a Cath Crowley sentence.”


But you shouldn’t be hearing this second-hand 😉

Here are some real Cath Crowley sentences.

“Death is something we shy away from, except in literature or television, when we tend to stare right at it.”

“He said the seconds were pouring off people, tiny glowing dots pouring from their skins, only no one could see them.”

“Words matter, in fact. They’re not pointless, as you’ve suggested. If they were pointless, then they couldn’t start revolutions and they wouldn’t change history. If they were just words, we wouldn’t write songs or listen to them. We wouldn’t beg to be read to as kids. If they were just words, then stories wouldn’t have been around since before we could write. We wouldn’t have learned to write. If they were just words, people wouldn’t fall in love because of them, feel bad because of them, ache because of them, and stop aching because of them.”

I don’t know if you can tell just by reading these quotes, but this book has a talent of making the reader feel as if they have crawled into the characters bodies and lives for the extent of the novel. For just a little while, their eyes, their arms, legs, brain and hearts aren’t their own.

After all

“We are the books we read and the things we love.”





★★★★★ (4.9 stars)



I still haven’t read it- I think I will now!

3rd Feb, 20
inky State Library Victoria

You HAVE to read it! As a book lover - you have to! It's really good and I couldn't stop reading it.

4th Feb, 20

This sounds SUPER sweet and I will look for it. Also, nice quotes ;)

3rd Feb, 20


4th Feb, 20
inky State Library Victoria

What a perfect format for the review of this book. It's really special, isn't it?

4th Feb, 20

Yes! I really loved it! I might have to kick a book off my favourites to add it... :(

4th Feb, 20

This sounds like a great book, I should read it. Thanks for the review and the pretty quotes. I love the long one about words.

4th Feb, 20

Aww love the review. The book sounds amazing, I'm going to have to get my hands on it as soon as I can!

14th Feb, 20