The Rain Heron by Robbie Arnott
‘A farmer lived, but not well.’ The opening line of Robbie Arnott’s second novel, The Rain Heron, grabs you by the throat. The rest of the novel never lets you go. In a swirling display of rich, descriptive language, of fraught interiority and dogged determination, The Rain Heron pulls the reader through a landscape and culture horrific for its uncanny likeness to our world today.
The Rain Heron of the title is a bird of myth, able to save and destroy the land, as recounted in the timeless fable of the opening chapter. What follows is a story of survival, an ecological thriller weighted with a mythological perspective, and a dystopian adventure story that comes full circle, feeling ancient in its future setting.
What I am trying to say in all these words that circle as The Rain Heron does, is that this is a novel that beautifully captures people at war with themselves, with each other, with nature – and it’s a taut, tense thriller at the same time. It is timely in the way mythological quests always are. It is current in its concerns for an environment searching for balance. It is refreshing in its gendering of the myth’s protagonists.
I thought it would be too much to read now, when all is upturned and we are distanced from each other, but I was wrong. It is the perfect book to read now. It brings us closer and it steadies the world just a little.