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!!