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The Rain Heron

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  853 ratings  ·  178 reviews
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 soldie
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Paperback, 288 pages
Published June 2nd 2020 by Text Publishing (first published January 1st 2020)
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Average rating 4.16  · 
Rating details
 ·  853 ratings  ·  178 reviews


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Amalia Gkavea
''But more curious than this was what they saw next: a huge heron, the colour of rain, suddenly emerging from the flood in a fast, steep flight, leaving not even a ripple on the water beneath it. With a languid flap on its wings it came to rest in the crown of the oak, standing over the unlucky farmer, as if on a guard.''

Somewhere in the wilderness, a woman lives alone on a farm next to oppressive neighbours. Years later, another woman lives in a cave, finding help from a father and his youn
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Marchpane
A spellbinding eco-fable, The Rain Heron delivers a powerful message about the human need to control and subdue the natural world.

Like Arnott’s debut Flames, his new novel is rooted in the landscape and the climate, but this work is subtler, more serious and controlled. Once again Arnott displays a gift for inventing myths that feel ancient. In The Rain Heron these myths are drenched in rain and seawater. As in a parable, the country is not named, but it has all the hallmarks of a climate-c
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Fran
Jan 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
"Above an enormous cliff...a tree-small, stunted, with ancient knots and whorls...at its highest point, in a clawing crown of branches, sat a bird...a heron...it seemed too big, too blue, too alien. Huge and silent, running its long beak through its pale cerulean plumage, water was dripping from the feathers as the bird preened...dove into the tarn...caused no splash, made no ripples...as if the bird had become one with the water."

"A farmer lived, but not well...success and happiness were foreig
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Neale
May 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“Daniel thought about what he knew of rain herons – how in the stories they were associated with rainfall, abundance and harvests, but also with floods and destruction and death.”

The story opens with a starving farmer. Starving literally. It seems whatever she decides to do with her land, plant crops, raise livestock, fails. She tells us she has forgotten what it is like to go to bed unhungry. She is neither lazy nor unskilled, yet all her attempts at producing something, anything, are unsuccess
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Carolyn
Stunning, immersive and hugely original, 'The Rain Heron' is a richly imagined allegorical fable for our times. Set in a slightly futuristic world where climate change has impacted severely on the land and its people, Arnott spins three tales of strong women making lives out of the damaged land.

In the first, a poor farmer first encounters the rain heron when she is close to death after years of drought. Wrought of water, it brings her wealth and prosperity by healing her land. But as her neighb
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Andrea
May 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If anyone had concerns about Robbie Arnott suffering from difficult-second-novel-syndrome, if there is such a thing, then don't worry. The Rain Heron is every bit as good as Flames, and some readers may even find it to be better, with a more comfortable (i.e. traditional) structure and storytelling arc than his debut. I loved it.

The first part of the story is essentially a parable. Set in an agricultural area, we are introduced to the rain heron and come to understand that it can control climate
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Bianca
The Rain Heron was original and quite imaginative. As someone who’s got no imagination, I’m in awe and a bit jealous of those who possess it. Paradoxically, while I admire and respect highly imaginative writers, I seem to still prefer realistic literature. I was a bit reluctant to read this, but my curiosity and the fact that so many GR friends loved it encouraged me to get to it. It paid off.

This novel blends beautifully the imagined and the surreal with realistic characters, who find themselve
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Michael Livingston
Jun 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A surreal, stirring fable filled with rare beauty, pain and deep humanity. This feels like timeless mythology and crucial, forward-looking fiction at the same time. An absolute joy to read.
Text Publishing
The following book reviews have been shared by Text Publishing – publisher of The Rain Heron

‘In The Rain Heron, Robbie Arnott has turned his gaze to civilisation’s need to control and understand the natural world. This is a book full of heart—it’s so richly imagined, inventive and beautifully written, with a strong message, but is never didactic. It’s like nothing I’ve read and Arnott has quickly become one of my favourite authors.’
J. P. Pomare

‘With its emotional power and rich symbolism, The Ra
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Sarah
Jun 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, fiction
Arnott's debut Flames was one of my surprise favourites of 2018, so I was excited to see he had a new novel coming out this year. And I'm pleased to report this one is even better.

Once again seamlessly melding literary fiction and magical realism, The Rain Heron transports the reader to a world at war, a world where the environment has been severely impacted as a result. The blurb describes the novel as an "eco-fable" which I'd agree with - the narrative follows two main characters, Ren and Zoe,
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Krista
Oct 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020, arc, netgalley
The teenagers brought their boat to a stop. This water-risen heron was unlike any other they’d seen before — any other heron, any other living creature. Its blue-grey feathers were so pale, they claimed later, that they could see straight through the bird. Its body was pierced by strands of dusky light, and the tree was clearly visible directly behind its sharp, moist beak. A ghost, one claimed. A mirage, said another. But before they could get closer the heron hunched its neck, flapped its w
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Sonja Arlow
I loved LOVED part 1 and 2, especially the section that deals with Zoe’s childhood and the coastal town of fishermen with their magic ink. If the whole book was about that I would easily have given this a 4.5 star rating.

Unfortunately, I really struggled with the pacing in the rest of the book. Particularly the part where the soldiers were in transit. I found those sections dragging with nothing really happening.

This was not an easy book to read but the author is a strong writer with a unique i
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Marianne
May 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wishlist
“Above her the sky was dark and clear, a navy sheet shot through with stars, and with fuzzy clarity she remembered that she loved the mountain. The scrubbed, endless sky; the sweet-clearing scent; the tossing wind and the bending trees and the high peaks and the running, freezing glassiness of the streams.”

The Rain Heron is the second novel by award-winning Australian author, Robbie Arnott. In their youth, the children of this country hear the story of the rain heron. They learn that the rain he
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Ari Levine
Jan 13, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5, rounded down. An imaginative and moving reading experience, which will probably end up being one of my favorites of 2021. Arnott builds an immersive world of near-future ecological disaster, where the seasons and climate have been disordered by human intervention, and a military coup rules the ragged survivors. His descriptions of natural landscapes are vivid and evocative, masterfully painting widescreen panoramas of landscapes-- deep forests, frozen coastlines, bleak deserts-- almost devo ...more
KarenK
I received this from Netgalley.com.

"As myths merge with reality, both Ren and Zoe are forced to confront what they regret, what they love, and what they fear."

Good story, enjoyable read, incredibly creative. The relationship between Ren and Zoe was both touching and just downright awful. The writing flows well, just enough magical realism to make you think this could really be happening.

4☆
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Claire
I enjoy fable-like stories or those that reference them and when I saw this title, I was captivated and intrigued by the image and concept of a rain heron. It reminded me of reading The Crane Wife and so I thought why not, see what this eco-fable was about.

The first chapter tells what I imagined was the original fable of the rain heron and the unlucky farmer, and from what I can gather, the author has made this story up as well. It's a story of a woman running a farm, the daughter of generations
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Krystal
May 17, 2020 marked it as ehhhh
Shelves: rip-punctuation
Note to self: Another book with no speech marks.

Doesn't sound interesting enough to overcome that fatal flaw.

This is literally a note to self, not a review. Thanks.
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Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum
Jun 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
The opening few chapters of The Rain Heron by Australian author Robbie Arnott are absolutely sublime. A seamless blend of fable and fairytale, the reader is introduced to the existence of the mythical rain heron. This story forms Part 0 of this slim novel, and we meet our main character Ren, at the beginning of Part 1.

Ren is an older woman living the life of a recluse on a mountain. She manages to eke out a meagre living and seems happy until she learns soldiers are coming. The location of the m
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Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)
May 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A masterful non-linear swirl of a story, which left me stunned each time the pieces of the narrative were revealed and clicked into place.

The early parts of the narrative felt like short stories, separate narratives taking place in the same world. While I was mesmerized by each, it was only as they all fell together and built into this crescendo of a quest-narrative in the latter part that I felt it really hit its stride. The stories that build to this collective narrative have a fable-vibe with
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Calzean
Brilliant piece of writing.
Part dystopian, fable and reality all wrapped around the rain heron. It is linked to the climate so man must have it to control the climate. But the heron is one mean bird.
In a nameless land a coup is occurring. Ren flees to lives as a hermit, isolated. Her world is destroyed when an Army unit is sent to capture the rain heron.
The characters are strong women, weaker men, linked loosely but all fascinating. The writer cleverly invokes the feel of the weather, the viole
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Jaclyn Crupi
Feb 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
My embargoed lips are sealed but yeah, wow.
switterbug (Betsey)
Jan 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Lately, every few books I pick up are myths, fables, or adult fairy tales. Perhaps this pandemic is spinning into allegory. Arnott vividly blends a provocative parable with the extreme, dystopian effects of climate change, a terror that has upended our lives by encroaching closer to reality than myth. Narrative, characters, theme, and story combine the conventional with the strange. Think of a redemptive eco-thriller--a survivalist fable with a clear moral compass. Despite the predictability of ...more
Nicky
Jul 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Very fable-esque and current but it just did not grab and hold me in the same way Flames did.
Sarah
As a big fan of Robbie Arnott's 2019 debut novel, Flames, I was really excited to hear that he has a new release in 2020 - The Rain Heron.
Like Flames, this novel uses magical realism, entwining landscape, mythological influences and totemic animal-spirits reminiscent of Australian indigenous culture to create powerful metaphors. However, this is a much darker novel, frequently depicting and exploring the ripples created by violence - between humans, human to animal, animal to human and human to
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Sharon
May 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Rain Heron, Arnott's second novel, is a like the eponymous bird - shimmering, mercurial, and dark. In it, we fall into a tale that's part fable, part exploration of human falibility, and see the devastating consequences. I swallowed it in one sitting, but know I will pick it back up again, to seek more in the luminescent words. Readers should not triggers for torture, domestic violence, animal slaughter and deaths by drowning, animal attack and shooting.

The novel begins with a fable, a story
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Jennifer (JC-S)
‘A farmer lived, but not well.’

In an unnamed country, the children hear about the rain heron, associated with both abundance and destruction. Landscape and climate provide the setting for this novel: three apparently separate stories set in fields, forested mountains, and the ocean. A balance with nature undermined and then destroyed by greed,
followed by tragedy.

‘Soldiers have come to the village.’

Somewhere in a country devastated by a coup, Ren lives on the forested slopes. She survives by hu
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Robert Lukins
Feb 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Genuinely and completely magnificent.

I’ll stop there with the praise only because there will be a deluge of it to come about this magical thing.
Jessica Haider
The Rain Heron is a modern eco-fable set in a country post-coup and after climate change. Though nothing is outright said about climate change there are several references to changes in weather and temperature that have caused people to move.

Ren lives by herself in a cave on a mountain in order to escape the modern world. Her solitary existence is disturbed when a young lieutenant and her troops show up in search of a mythical rain heron. The story is broken into several parts, each of which te
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Natasha
Jun 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
A hauntingly beautiful and tragic fable.
Tom Mooney
Jul 19, 2020 rated it it was ok
I was quite disappointed by this in the end. After a promising start it sort of meanders around without reaching a satisfying conclusion.

The opening fable is magnificent, as is the section when we're with Ren, an old woman surviving alone in the wild on a mountain.

But this book struggles (as so many contemporary novels do) when we leave behind a character we've come to empathise with and pick up with other, less interesting characters. It's a hard ask to set aside one storyline and make the read
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Robbie Arnott was born in Launceston in 1989. His writing has appeared in Island, the Lifted Brow, Kill Your Darlings and the 2017 anthology Seven Stories. He won the 2015 Tasmanian Young Writers’ Fellowship and the 2014 Scribe Nonfiction Prize for Young Writers. Robbie lives in Hobart and is an advertising copywriter.

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