It begins with a butterfly in chains.
Since the dawn of time, life has been comfortable and predictable. The gods have wrested pockets of Creation from Chaos, formed civilizations, and built entire realities. Now, the nature of Creation is changing and the Divine are losing their divinity.
Rosemary, daughter of the God of Creation, can no longer deny this when a strange delegation from Dawnland braves the paths through Chaos and survives. Come to negotiate trade and protection agreements with the Divine of Meadowsweet, it is the butterfly woman who so captivates Rosemary. The weight of her sorrow, the heaviness of her secrets.
For the soul is a battleground. Clouds are massing along the horizon, and Rosemary…
She must survive the storm.
“Nothing ever ends, it only changes shape.”
The Necessity of Rain is the one of the most astounding books I have read – will ever read. It is a literary wonder, an exquisite work of art. The language geek in me was satisfied beyond anything I had anticipated; Sarah Chorn is a literary sorceress, whose prose enchants me.
True to form here, Chorn creates a world of emotion. The story is about everything that makes us human – creation, life, loss, fear, grief, change, pain, death – but most prominently, hope, acceptance and love. It is truly beautiful.
“My life has become a cage crafted of almosts.”
The world building on show is inspired. The ideas of the Devine (the Gods) and their domains (arbours), created and surviving tentatively within a universe, or sea, of Chaos is just visionary. The link between nature and divinity, life and mortality, are beautifully crafted. I don’t think I’ve ever seen its like before. Chorn as taken the natural world and suffused it through her characters, bringing new life to her already wonderful writing in a way that elevates it beyond what should be possible.
The prose is lyrical and ethereal. Chorn’s writing flows and blossoms with wonderful use of metaphor. Her ability to set up moments of tenderness and vulnerability, before hitting you with a gut punch, is second to none and makes the emotional journey even more impactful. Chorn conveys emotion like no other. Her prose speaks the language of the soul. It sings; it screams.
“Sometimes, to love, you must walk away.”
in what is a character-driven story, the three main POV characters are phenomenal. Their relationships are explored through ‘then’ and ‘now’ chapters. Their internal thoughts and emotions are given further life and meaning through their physical attributes. Rosemary is my favourite. Her ability to bloom flowers at will – when she’s happy she blooms a profusion of flowers, when sad weeping willows grow through her vines. The use of the character’s unique appearance and divinity gives greater power and life to the emotions on display. Her pain is felt and seen.
“If we laugh together, why then do you ache alone?”
When it comes to storytelling and plot, Chorn colours outside of the lines, creating an abstract experience fuelled by the emotional journey of each character. The non-linear narrative works perfectly. As in real life, we are guided by our experiences and emotions – our stories are written by our reactions and actions – as is the case with the characters in this story.
The structure allows for an organic reading experience, whereby Chorn scatters seeds of world building and history through the non-linear time line. Like creating a garden, not everything grows or blooms at the same time. It takes work and experience, to get the balance right – having the right plants in the right place to bloom at the right time – and the pay off is so satisfying. Chorn’s story, like a garden, is arranged in a way that leads you in and keeps you entranced by its beauty, with something new and interesting to find as you amble your way through.
“My ribs, like trees, cast shadows on my heart.”
The themes in this book are profoundly relevant to everyone, whether you have experienced all or none of the situations/emotions, you will do eventually, or know someone who has. Death of loved ones, parents, grandparents, dementia, chronic illness, end of life care, are all handled with great empathy. Difficult familial relationships are very poignant and felt authentic. The level of empathy displayed by the author is incredible – with some personal experience to draw on too – she has the power to provide a clear window into the soul of her characters, and then shatter them, over and over.
Despite the raw emotional trauma, it is the positive elements of this story that I really appreciated – the acceptance from others, the selfless caregiving, and the genuine love that is shown to, and felt by, characters. In the face of the pain, grief, and hurt, there is always hope of a brighter future. This was something that sang to me throughout the book, quietly at times, but loud enough to know it is always there.
“I will take you to the garden where happiness grows”.
The Necessity of Rain clearly draws inspiration from the author’s love of gardening and art, and when you combine this with her lyrical prose, she has managed to create something truly magnificent – an immersive, dream-like, experience that is just visionary. The combination of all of these elements allows this book to metamorphosize into something more, transcending any constraints of genre. I can’t adequately put into words how magical Chorn’s writing is – it deserves to be experienced far and wide. This is a book that can and should be appreciated by everyone, not just SFF readers. This is a work of literary fiction of the highest quality; I am in awe of the achievement, but not surprised. Sarah Chorn is still one of favourite writers. Ever.
Thank you to the author for providing me with a free eARC in exchange for my honest review.