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 local myth, Ren is inexorably drawn into her impossible mission. As their lives entwine, unravel and erupt—as myths merge with reality—both Ren and the soldier are forced to confront what they regret, what they love, and what they fear.

The Rain Heron is the dizzying, dazzling new novel from the author of Flames.




Having loved his previous book, Flames, I was eager to see what Robbie Arnott had in store for us next – I have not been disappointed!

This is one of those books that take you out of yourself! With the imagery and world created, you become part of the backdrop watching over the struggles of the characters and feeling their emotions – all while the mythical rain heron affects the weather that will deeply affect the characters we follow.

This is a really subtle book, with nods to the damage that climate change causes to the daily lives of those working the land, affecting not only their livelihoods but their mental wellbeing too.

The story starts with a female farmer who is pivotal to the wellbeing of the local community – her farm had struggled for years leading her to the brink of life, but the appearance of the heron changes the fortunes of the farm and she shares this upturn in her luck with those around her. Not all those around her see the good in her charity, and shows the ugliness of jealousy when all is not well in their lives.

And then there is Ren who is living a very hermit existence on the side of a mountain. It’s a brutal life but she has learnt to thrive thanks to her survival skills and she is helped by some who meet her. But there’s always those questions in your head as to why she has decided to live the way she does and why she won’t change her ways for an easier life.

The darker side is portrayed brilliantly by the soldiers sent out to track down the Rain Heron and capture it. Ruthless in their approach, they seem almost brainwashed into following orders and never questioning why they’ve been given this objective. It’s only when they start to see life a little differently that they begin to show their humanity. And there’s more good vs bad in the story of Zoe, when we see people working with nature versus those who see it just for greed and their own gain, and how that changes the balance and brings despair to many.

This is a book that gets you thinking about your actions and how it impacts on the wider world. It makes you notice the little things. About how you treat people, and how they treat you! It’s weird, quirky, compelling, magical, captivating and will leave you pondering for long after you finish that final page. Loved it!!



#BookReview Flames by Robbie Arnott

About the book

A young man named Levi McAllister decides to build a coffin for his twenty-three-year-old sister, Charlotte—who promptly runs for her life. A water rat swims upriver in quest of the cloud god. A fisherman named Karl hunts for tuna in partnership with a seal. And a father takes form from fire. 

The answers to these riddles are to be found in this tale of grief and love and the bonds of family, tracing a journey across the southern island that takes us full circle.

Flames sings out with joy and sadness. Utterly original in conception, spellbinding in its descriptions of nature and its celebration of the power of language, it announces the arrival of a thrilling new voice in contemporary fiction.

Published by Atlantic Books

Purchase Links

Book Depository  £11.34

hive.co.uk  £9.75

Waterstones  £12.99


I have found myself totally mesmerized by this book! A wonderful debut and very difficult to sum up, other than it was pure escapism and I was transfixed by the characters, the settings and the overall feel of the book!

It’s about a family who see female relatives return after they die only for them to burst into flames and die once again soon after. It’s about a brother caring for his sister, except she doesn’t interpret it that way and runs away to deal with her own adventures. Its about a man called Karl connecting with nature, hunting with his seal, coping with family life and haunted by things he sees.

It’s a book written in a variety of styles – from first person views, to letters between an author and Levi seeking help, poignant thoughts of an Esk god being caught by an ape, and to diary entries from a Ranger on a farm estate seeing wombats being killed on a daily basis and trying to get to the basis of why.

At times this book is utterly bonkers and I think that is why it made it so brilliant for me as a reader. You honestly didn’t know where the story would lead to next, the language is spellbinding and intoxicating and it combines the natural world with the magical elements of fairytales, whilst dealing with families and grief and how it affects people so differently.

This is a very special debut and I cannot wait to see what the author creates next!

My thanks to Readers First for the copy in return for a fair and honest review.