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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.
Robbie Arnott’s stunning second novel remakes our relationship with the natural world. The Rain Heron is equal parts horror and wonder, and utterly gripping.
‘With its emotional power and rich symbolism, The Rain Heron is an immersion in landscape, climate and an animal world that lives despite us, not for us. Robbie Arnott has imagined a creature, by turns exquisitely beautiful and terrifying, the likes of which I have never seen in Australian literature. His titular heron is a source of breathless wonder, of reverence. Arnott is just as wise with his human characters, with their wretchedness and elation, love and mistrust. There are images in this book that are entirely new to me, and I will cherish them.’
‘Robbie Arnott is singlehandedly reinventing Australian literature. The Rain Heron is a soaring feat of the imagination.’
‘The Rain Heron is exquisite. Reading it feels like hearing a legend from our past, from our near future; like remembering something you had always known but somehow forgotten. It is both fantastical and deeply true.’
‘The Rain Heron is genuinely and completely magnificent—a magical thing.’
‘The Rain Heron is an intoxicating fable from an extraordinary imagination. Robbie Arnott writes like the words want to be his.’
‘Robbie Arnott imagines a thoroughly strange, inky-dark land of the near future. Sharp and original, The Rain Heron is a beautiful novel about love, violence and redemption.’
‘A journey into a perilous world where the horror of human greed collides with the eloquence of nature.’
‘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.’
‘Delightful. He jumps playfully between different writing styles in every chapter…[An] enchanting story that also captures something very real about Tasmanian life.’
‘A rich and memorable picture with prose of an exceptionally high quality. You won’t read another Australian literary novel like this anytime soon.’
‘Arnott skilfully switches between different voices and genres in a trick reminiscent of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. The range he displays is impressive, swinging from fable to gothic horror to hardboiled detective story.’
‘An engrossing narrative of mystery and escape that treats the reader to bravura runs of writing, especially around the elements of water and fire…You never quite know which direction the story will take off in as it creates a new kind of fairytale for our fire-prone landscape.’
‘A book that is not only a compelling, original read, but one that delivers hard truths that urgently need to be heard.’
‘The Rain Heron is unlike anything I have ever read. As luminescent as it is devastating, Arnott’s tightly wrought storytelling reveals the myriad harms we wreak both on our planet and on each other. It is mesmerising.’