Hey Bibliofriends! Happy 1st July!
This week’s Musings come from a wonderful book I recently acquired through NetGalley called The Rain Heron. Although it contains a serious message, a little magic and mythology are interwoven through its narrative and I absolutely adored it!
Book: The Rain Heron by Robbie Arnott
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publication Date: 2nd July 2020
Publisher: Atlantic Books
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Ren lives alone on the remote frontier of a country devastated by a coup. High on the forested slopes, she survives by hunting and trading – and forgetting. But when a young soldier comes to the mountains in search of a legendary creature, Ren is inexorably drawn into an impossible mission. As their lives entwine, unravel and erupt – as myth merges with reality – both Ren and the soldier are forced to confront what they regret, what they love, and what they fear.
A vibrant homage to the natural world, bursting with beautiful landscapes and memorable characters, The Rain Heron is beautifully told eco-fable about our fragile and dysfunctional relationships with the planet and with each other, the havoc we wreak and the price we pay.
The Rain Heron is a stunningly decadent tale of mythical creatures and the price our humanity pays on the natural world. Billed as an ‘eco-fable’, the story of The Rain Heron is centered around a legendary bird made of water that can affect the weather of the land surrounding it – and by proxy, the impact that has on humans. The story follows Ren, a woman who lives and forages in the forests, and Lieutenant Harker who has been charged with finding and capturing the heron.
From the outset, the vivid language and opulent vocabulary woven through the pages makes for an atmosphere rich in imagery. I loved the tone of the storytelling and felt as though my senses were heightened as I witnessed Arnott’s landscape inside my brain in HD technicolour.
Being told through four non-linear parts of differing perspectives enables the reader to explore the various personality traits of the main characters and see their unique interpretations and views of the world. Although each character has different motivations, the main message is crystal clear – looking after nature is everyone’s responsibility and we all need to do our bit to prevent the disastrous ramifications that its desolation will bring upon our planet.
I have to admit, when Part Two hit, I did wonder if this were more a compilation of tales rather than just one story but by sticking with it and moving on to the remaining parts, the story neatly weaves itself together and further explains certain characters’ justifications for their actions. This notion of consequence is seen mostly through Lieutenant Harker (whether she is directly affected or an observing bystander) and I really enjoyed the way her character arc changed and developed throughout her journey in the story.
I’d love to think that a rainbow heron existed once upon a time. The bird itself is a powerful symbol within the book and gave the novel a parable feeling – almost like an ancient myth you would use to explain to children where rain comes from. The quest for the legendary creature made me feel as if I was reading the adult Pokémon novel I’ve been waiting for all my life mixed in with a highly poignant ecological sentiment.
Arnott has a standout voice and has spun such a timeless, relevant novel for our times. I found it deeply moving and it really made me consider the balance we need to find between our human world and our natural world. Rather than keep taking from nature, we need to find ways in which we can give back and preserve the heritage of our air, lands, seas and all creatures great and small for future generations. If you love tales from the environmental world which resonate a true, meaningful mantra then you need to take a leap into the world of The Rain Heron!
Big thanks to NetGalley, Atlantic Books and Robbie Arnott for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
What’s your favourite ecological tale? Do you have a favourite myth or legendary creature? Would you like to live in a world where Rain Herons could exist? As always, drop me a comment to chat!