A Review: Catching Teller Crow

“In telling this tale, we were informed by two sets of stories that are the inheritance of Aboriginal peoples. The first set are stories of our homelands, families, cultures; the stories that speak to the connections which sustain us and which we sustain in turn. The second set are the tales that entered our worlds with colonization; stories of the violence that was terrifyingly chaotic or even more terrifyingly organized on a systemic scale. Both sets of stories inform our existences, and thus our storytelling.”

(Kwaymullina 191)
Spoilers ahead!

Catching Teller Crow is a novel about a grieving father, Michael Teller, that can see the ghost of his daughter Beth. Michael Teller is a police detective and was sent to investigate a murder in a rural Australian town. During the investigation Beth notices another ghost following them and befriends her. And as it turns out, the girl, called Catching, is the key to solving the murder and uncovering the town’s secret.

         The novel deals with many different topics such as grief, trauma, and relationships. It is clear from the first page that Beth is worried about her father as he does not deal with well with Beth and her mother’s respective deaths. If we were to see the ghost of someone close to us, we would probably assume that we are losing our mind or that it is a manifestation of our grief. But for Aboriginal people this would not be that strange. Some Aboriginal people believe that humans go through different stages of existence (cf. Books+Publishing). Similarly, that everything is connected is part of Aboriginal systems (cf. Kwaymillina 2013, 4). So seeing a ghost would not be that strange as they are just souls at another part of existence. And because everything is related, Beth’s and Catching’s stories are related even across time.

         Beth and Catching tell their stories in different ways. Beth ‘talks’ in prose. Catching in verse. According to the authors, Beth’s voice is like a river ‘sometimes fast and sometimes slow, but always saying a lot’ and Catching’s voice is like ‘the beat of the rain, sometimes steady and sometimes sharp and uneven. She says little, but every word has weight.’ (Wyld). Even though both stories have a lot to say about the two girls, Catching’s verse makes her story feel more important- and it’s not just the words either. The historical implications behind her story, the being taken by strangers, being talked about as if she isn’t there, the fear, makes it feel real.

         Let’s now talk about Crow, the last girl mentioned in the title of the novel. Crow is and remains a mystery in the novel, but her being a crow tells us a lot. Crows are most known to represent good or bad omens- even death. But those black birds are also known for their intelligence and adaptability. They can also be a sign for transformation and the future. And maybe this is all true for Catching Teller Crow as in the end of the novel (the chapter called ‘The Beginning’) all three girls turn to crows.

“We bathed in the clouds and sang in the sun and let the world paint our souls and our souls paint the world. And wherever we went, we went together.”

(Kwaymullina 190)


Books+Publishing. “Reaching out: Ambelin and Ezekiel Kwaymillina on ‘Catchin Teller Crow’”. https://www.booksandpublishing.com.au/articles/2018/07/05/110945/re   aching-out-ambelin-and-ezekiel-kwaymullina-on-catching-teller-crow/. Accessed Feb. 19, 2023.

Kwaymullina, A., B. Kwaymullina, and L. Butterly. “Living Texts: A Perspective on Published Sources, Indigenous Research Methodologies and Indigenous Worldviews”. International Journal of Critical Indigenous Studies, vol. 6, no. 1,   Jan. 2013, pp. 1-13, doi:10.5204/ijcis.v6i1.106.

Kwaymullina, Ambelin and Ezekiel Kwaymullina. Catching Teller Crow. Penguin Books, 2019

Let’s speculate about de-extinction!

James Bradley’s novel Ghost Species is part of the genre of Australian speculative fiction. A main topic of his speculations is based on the de-extinction of extinct species such as the thylacines (also known as the Tasmanian tiger or wolf), woolly mammoths, and Neanderthals (cf. 20, 21). But would this be possible? Well, let’s find out!

         But before we can think about whether it is possible in real life, let’s see how de-extinction works in the novel. Apparently, to ‘re-create’ (Bradley, 20) species you only need a sample of the genetic material, an egg, and a surrogate of a related species. The first successful example in the novel are thylacines. Thylacines are apparently a ‘good choice’ (Bradley, 16) as their genetic material is ‘relatively intact’ (Bradley, 16). Additionally, Dunnarts were used as surrogates and an artificial pouch to raise them as they were born undeveloped (cf. 17). The de-extinction of the neanderthal Eve was similar with a DNA sample and human surrogate (cf. 40f.). 

         So now that we established how the novel approaches de-extinction; let’s think about how it would work in real life. According to Nancy Huang resurrecting extinct species depends on the DNA. Nearly identical to the process in the novel, to resurrect an extinct species we need the nearly complete DNA of a species, an egg, and a surrogate of a related species (cf. Huang). To successfully clone an animal, one needs an intact nucleus which can be put into an egg that had its nucleus removed. The egg then has to be implanted into a surrogate of a closely related species (cf. Huang). And apparently this has been tried. According to Charles Q. Choi there has been an attempt to de-extinct an extinct species, but the clone died just minutes after birth. In 2003 frozen skin was used to clone a bucardo (also known as Pyrenean ibex) with domestic goat eggs and Spanish ibex or goat-ibex hybrids (cf. Choi). This attempt was unsuccessful as many of the implanted eggs did not result in successful pregnancies and the only to term carried bucardo only lived a few minutes. (cf. Choi).

         This shows that de-extinction is possible but complicated as a close relative of a species is needed. And even if the pregnancy is a success, the survival of the baby is unknown as is whether they can reproduce. There are many other open questions that only time and technical innovations can answer. Until then, we have to speculate. But as shown here, speculation isn’t that far off!



Bradley, James. Ghost Species. Hodder Studio, 2020.

Choi, Charles Q. “First Extinct-Animal Clone Created” https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/news-bucardo-pyrenean-ibex-deextinction-cloning. Accessed 19 Dec 2022.

Huang, Nancy. “How Close Are We to Resurrecting Extinct Species?” https://now.northropgrumman.com/how-close-are-we-to-resurrecting-extinct-species/ Accessed 19 Dec 2022.