Review: Where the Rain Cannot Reach by Adesina Brown

Category:

Fantasy

Rating:

Introduction:

Tair has never experienced the feeling of belonging. From a young age, she was abandoned and raised in the valley of Mirte, where only Elves resided. This isolation shaped her identity, as she relied solely on her small, seemingly reliable family.

Suddenly, Tair’s family decides to leave Mirte, taking her on a perilous journey to Doman: a place with a dark history of human cruelty and currently inhabited by Dwarves. In Doman, Tair encounters new notions of family and love, but also learns that her very existence is based on falsehoods. Now burdened with a dreadful responsibility towards the Humans of Sossoa, Tair must make a choice regarding her allegiances and, in the process, uncover her true self and the person she has always been.

Review:

Told in third person narrative, Where The Rain Cannot Reach by Adesina Brown is a good debut novel with a lot of potential. In my personal opinion, it was a mixture of good and bad.

To begin with, I appreciate the unique approach taken by Brown in portraying humans as the antagonists in Where The Rain Cannot Reach. Unlike many other fantasy narratives where humans are often portrayed as victims of other races, Brown challenges this convention by shedding light on the fact that humans themselves can be responsible for destructive actions. It serves as a thought-provoking reality check, considering the adverse impact our species has on the planet.

Another aspect I appreciated in Brown’s novel was their attempt to address significant contemporary social issues such as racism, gender, and sexual identity. As a poc bisexual cis female, I am always drawn to literature that provides representation and promotes awareness. However, while I value these efforts, I found that some of the incorporation of these themes felt overly explicit and intrusive. At times, it seemed to detract from the overall narrative and my enjoyment of the story. I believe a more skillful integration could have struck a better balance, allowing the themes to enhance the reading experience without overwhelming it.

On the other hand, I found myself dissatisfied with the world building and pacing in Where The Rain Cannot Reach. It felt like a rollercoaster ride, with inconsistent experiences. There were moments when the world building was masterfully executed, providing exquisite details, while at other times, it seemed lacking and insufficient. The pacing of the story was similarly erratic. There were instances where the narrative flowed smoothly, engaging me effortlessly, but there were also moments of sluggishness, where the story lagged, and instances of rapid acceleration, leaving me feeling disoriented.

Although I admired Brown’s inclusion of new languages in the narrative, I felt that it occupied a significant portion of the book without serving a necessary purpose. This focus on linguistic aspects detracted from addressing weaker aspects of the story that could have been given more attention.

Moreover, I observed a lack of substantial character development throughout the novel, extending to both the protagonist Tair and the supporting characters such as Silaa, Shianna, Alyn, Bonn, and Rose. As I mentioned earlier, while Brown made efforts to address social issues and introduce new languages, it felt as though there was insufficient focus on allowing the characters to evolve and strengthen, which is a crucial aspect of storytelling. Consequently, I found myself unsatisfied as a reader. The portrayal of the found family dynamic within the story also felt contrived and unconvincing, as there was insufficient exploration and growth in those relationships.

I find it fascinating when a book sparks numerous ‘why?’s, introducing an air of mystery and intrigue to the plot at the start. However, when the grand revelation finally unfolded, explaining the reasons behind all the secrecy, I shared the same perplexed and incredulous reaction as Tair. The explanation provided failed to convince me in any way. While I would like to delve into specific points and analyze them further, I must refrain from doing so to avoid spoilers. Let’s just say that I was thoroughly unimpressed with the overall plot.

In summary, Where The Rain Cannot Reach presents a promising debut novel with evident potential for growth. However, I felt that Brown attempted to tackle an excessive number of challenges within a single book, resulting in a somewhat diminished reading experience for me. Please note that my critique is not intended as an insult to Brown’s writing ability, as I believe she is a skilled writer. Rather, I believe that at times, a more focused approach could have enhanced the overall impact of the story. Sometimes, less can indeed be more.

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to NetGalley, Atmosphere Press, and Adesina Brown for affording me the opportunity to read a copy of Where The Rain Cannot Reach. I must commend the remarkable artistry displayed on the book cover. The presentation of the Yellow Sun and the Red Sun with the dagger was truly captivating and visually appealing.

Book Cover:

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