“It begins with a butterfly in chains.”
Every once in a while, you come across that rare book that just feels special, that completely transcends any other reading experience you have ever had. That was this book for me.
The Necessity of Rain wasn’t simply an astonishingly amazing read, but it was a book that I lived, breathed and experienced with every fibre of my being. It both broke me and healed me in ways I wasn’t expecting, and I will forever be grateful for that.
Chorn doesn’t follow the rules of traditional storytelling, but instead she is sowing seeds that slowly bloom into one breathtaking cohesive garden in the end. The non-linear storytelling might feel disorienting at times, but it fits this story and I promise you can trust the process. This story will go where it needs to go, and by the end you will be left awe-struck by the sheer beauty that is contained within these pages.
All you really need to know before going in is that this is, at its heart, a very raw and delicate story about three women who are all facing change, in all its devastating and beautiful forms. And as the title suggests, this book gently explores the storms that we need to weather in order to change and grow. Because how can we blossom without a little rain?
“Nothing ever ends, it just changes.”
Now, very often with these types of thematically rich stories, I can feel a bit detached from the characters because they feel like empty vessels to convey a message. But here, the opposite couldn’t be more true.
There are three main POV characters who we follow in both the ‘Then’ and the ‘Now’, which allows the reader to really get to know them intimately by showing their growth and development over a longer span of time. I truly appreciated that all of these characters are allowed to be messy, to be vulnerable, and to just be painfully and beautifully human. Queer characters, disabled characters, mentally broken characters, they are all here, and they are allowed to be (or become) their true authentic selves. And heck, even the non-human characters feel more realistic and have more emotional depth than the majority of all the other fictional characters I have come across, which makes this such a special and unbelievably relatable and memorable cast of characters.
““You are so silent, but your pain is loud,” the goddess whispers so softly I can barely hear it. “You can break now. No one is watching. It does not have to be beautiful.
Speaking of non-human characters, I absolutely loved Chorn’s depiction of gods here. If you like the gods-walking-among us trope, then you have come to the right place. The Divine are these awe-inspiring majestic beings, yet they are also imbued with so much human emotion and fiery passion which makes them fully come to life on the page. And what I maybe loved most about them here, is that their divinity and their Creations come at a cost, which they are fully willing to pay. We enter this world at a time when the Divine are starting to be faced with their mortality, and that leads to such a beautiful exploration on the meaning of life and the way we can live on through the things we leave behind.
No matter what your background is or what your life experiences are, I can guarantee you that this story will resonate with you on a deep emotional level, because Chorn has somehow captured the essence of what it means to be human.
This story truly hinges on the complicated and often painfully realistic interpersonal relationships between all these characters, be they platonic, familial, romantic, or something wholly unique in between all those things. It is not a romance story, but it is a story about love in all its devastating beauty. And because of the poignant writing, all the highly emotional interactions between the characters, both the joyful and the painful ones, become even more intense.
“I wanted to walk into the sea when you left… Not because I longed to drown, but because I finally wanted to be held by something that refused to let me go.”
Yet, for all that this story is so beautifully human, it’s somehow also utterly magical because of Chorn’s trademark imaginative and immersive worldbuilding. The world that she brings to life here is so breathtakingly gorgeous and I was simply entranced from the very first page.
Each Divine has Created their own authentic arbor, a little pocket world if you will, that rebelliously exists in a sea of Chaos. And to me, entering this world felt similar to travelling to a new country in the sense that you are just dropped into a new place that might feel slightly overwhelming, but which also fills you with childlike wonder.
I absolutely adored that there is a true sense of depth and wholeness to this world that made me feel like I could step into any one of these fantastical Creations and explore them in all their glory if I wanted. This world is so well-realised and Chorn really tickled my imagination in a way that very few authors can.
Speaking of prose… this level of wordsmithing is simply unbelievable. From reading Chorn’s earlier works, I already knew that her prose is just soul-stirringly gorgeous, but holy fuck did she outdo herself here.
The vivid imagery and beautiful metaphors create this ethereal, fever dream-like quality that so perfectly fits this utterly mesmerising story. Every single word is simultaneously a punch to the gut and a healing balm to your soul, which makes this already powerful story even more impactful.
I particularly loved that this isn’t just flowery writing for the sake of flowery writing, but there is actual meaningful flower symbolism woven into the narrative. And that symbolism beautifully highlights the rich themes of love, loss, grief, mortality, (self-) acceptance, hope, growth and change that lie at the heart of this story. How Chorn can capture so much nuance and emotion in a few words is just beyond me, and I will forever admire her for it.
“Life is not all pain and loss, Isra. No storm lasts forever.” He captures my gaze and holds it warm in his own. “Someday, you will learn to breathe again.”
Now, I could gush on and on about this story for hours, but I’d rather you just go discover this stunning story and world on your own.
These are the types of reading experiences that I am always on the hunt for, the ones that are tragic but filled with heart and hope, that take you on a wild emotional rollercoaster, and that make you feel like you are living the story yourself. It takes a lot for me to tear up over a book, but Chorn got me here, multiple times, and I absolutely love her for it.
I highly implore you to read this book, especially if you like intensely character-driven stories that are filled to the brim with emotional turmoil. I am not exaggerating when I say that this is one of the most imaginative, immersive, breathtaking, memorable and impactful stories I have ever read in the entire SFF genre. It’s without a doubt one of my new all-time favourites, and I already can’t wait to re-read it over, and over, and over again.
*Disclaimer: I received a free eARC from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.