... a dazzlingly visual novel ... Arnott’s book swims in a swelling stream: that of literary writers drawing on mythological techniques and indeed creating new mythologies that reimagine the human relationship with the living world around us ... It’s a powerful story, beautifully rendered ... The Rain Heron is a new story about learning to heed the old stories — but heeding them will require sacrifice, reciprocity, and humility.
The Rain Heron is an evocative and poetic ecological myth set in a post-war world of climate disaster. As such, it was never likely to offer much in the way of feel-good escapism in the middle of a pandemic, and if you have been heartened by the improvement in air quality during lockdown, reports of rewilding in urban areas or promises to make the economic recovery a green one, this book will bring back all the gnawing anxiety about what we are doing to the planet with a thump, and remind you how little time we have left to act ... This mesmerising and beautifully written tale begins with three seemingly disparate narratives ... Each narrative thread could stand as a shocking, beautiful and moral short story in its own right, but Robbie Arnott weaves them seamlessly together into a satisfying whole.
It’s unclear what the military hopes to do with the bird, but perhaps the heron’s preternatural powers might give them an edge in their struggle. That 'struggle' is left to the imagination of the reader, as is much of the storyline, throughout which obfuscation, minimalism, and a creative timeline are mixed with some beautifully honed prose ... The author scatters several acts of gratuitous violence amid the pages...It seems unnecessary for the book as a whole; perhaps each individual bloodstained episode would fit more comfortably into standalone stories ... Much of Arnott’s best writing describes the natural beauty of the unnamed region, the climate, and concern for the environment, though it’s unclear if that qualifies this book as a work of eco-fiction. It could just as easily be categorized as a fantasy, a feminist myth, a murder mystery, or even some sort of Dickensian coincidence tale. Regardless, The Rain Heron tries to span several genres but never quite succeeds in any. While its distinct narratives are interesting, the novel’s puzzling organization left this reader scratching his head.