Not a review of The Ninth Rain by Jen Williams

The Ninth Rain by Jen Williams cover

This is not a review of The Ninth Rain by Jen Williams, because there are rules on how to review and this doesn’t follow any of them.

Sebastian, my writer half, and Rain, my reader half, recently read The Ninth Rain by Jen Williams, which is the first book in The Winnowing Flame Trilogy. They finished it, which was quite an accomplishment given the pandemic wrecked their concentration.

Rain: We finally finished reading a book. We should do something to celebrate.

Sebastian: We can’t go out – we’re still in lock-down.

Rain: We could drink.

Sebastian raises his eyebrows and his half-empty glass of wine.

Rain: Fine. Let’s talk about The Ninth Rain.

Sebastian: Given our state of mind, this isn’t going to be a fair review.

Rain: This isn’t a review. It’s a not-review. I thought we’d done this enough that you got the idea.

Sebastian: You’re arguing semantics. We’re talking about a book we read. That makes it a review.

Rain: I’m not going to agree with that, I’m just going to start talking.

Sebastian gives his wine a long sniff and a short sip.

Rain: Obviously the world-building was incredible. You get used to high fantasy books set in standard medieval worlds with standard magic and dragons–

Not an image from The Ninth Rain by Jen Williams
The Ninth Rain is not like this. Also, can we please stop holding swords by the blade? Sure, they’re probably not that sharp, but it upsets me.

Sebastian: But you like all that stuff.

Rain: Of course I do. I wasn’t complaining. Doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a different kind of world with a sweeping history of alien invasions, strange creatures, and weird magicks. There was so much new stuff to see. It was like going on holiday to a foreign country.

Sebastian: Half-invisible parasite creatures with flashing lights that turn people inside out, and you think of a holiday in France?

Rain snatches Sebastian’s glass of wine and downs the lot.

Rain: You haven’t been to France. You don’t know what’s there.

This is not France. Or is it?

Sebastian: So you liked the world-building. What else?

Rain: The characters were kind of delightful. I’ve read books recently where all the characters were vanilla and you couldn’t tell them apart. These characters all had their own personalities and there was definitely no mixing them up.

Sebastian: I agree. The characterisation was one of my favourite aspects.

Sebastian pours himself more wine and takes a sip.

Sebastian: I admit I would have preferred more complete character arcs that give a big emotional pay-off, but it’s only the first book of a trilogy. Maybe that’s coming. I took it as a good sign that the characters weren’t static, either in the way they felt about themselves or in the way they related to each other.

Rain: I was going to comment on the emotional aspect too. The world-building and characterisation were excellent, and there was a decent plot. What I missed was the feels.

Sebastian: “The feels”.

Rain: It’s a real thing! I didn’t get swept away with the romance, the danger, the triumph. You know, the feels.

Sebastian: That’s because the pandemic’s made you dead inside.

Rain: There’s no need to be mean about it. You’re dead inside too.

Sebastian: The difference is that I was always like this.

Has the pandemic made us all dead inside?

Rain drinks a mouthful of Sebastian’s wine before he extracts the glass from her hand.

Sebastian: If you want wine, get your own.

Rain: Too hard. Like pretty much everything else right now.

Sebastian hands the glass back and Rain drinks.

Rain: What else?

Sebastian: I’d almost forgotten. The writing.

Rain: It was good. Invisible.

Sebastian: Well, mostly. Except there were lots of sentences like “The sun was creeping over the horizon.” Why not just “The sun crept over the horizon”?

Rain: Isn’t that the same thing?

Sebastian: You’re never going to understand. Some things bug me and I want to edit as I read. It pulls me out of the experience. Maybe it’s just me.

Rain: Definitely just you.

Sebastian: Anything else?

Rain: I almost forgot the giant bats. They ride giant bats and it is SO COOL. I have to have one.

Not a giant bat
Giant bats. Like this one, only bigger.

Sebastian: It would be cold and windy. And terrible if you’re scared of heights.

Rain: But look how cute they are!

Sebastian: Sort of like upside-down evil dogs.

Rain finishes Sebastian’s wine and tries to refill the glass, but the bottle is empty.

Rain: We have to go because we’re out of wine. But first the verdict. I didn’t get carried away with the story until about the 75% mark, but it got me in the end. We can buy the sequel, right?

Sebastian: We’d better.

If you’re not sick of Sebastian and Rain yet, you can find more of their not-reviews (and some other stuff about books) here.

Have you read The Ninth Rain? What did you think? Do you want to more or less after reading this not-review?

Get more uninformed opinions about books I’ve read and occasionally some I haven’t.

Author: A.S. Akkalon

By day, A.S. Akkalon works in an office where the computers outnumber the suits of armour more than two-to-one. By night, she puts dreams of medieval castles, swords, and dragons onto paper.

9 thoughts on “Not a review of The Ninth Rain by Jen Williams”

  1. I get irked by sentences as I’m reading too. ‘Constant editor syndrome,’ I think they call it.

    I’ll just add this one to the huge pile of fantasy books I want to read 👀

    1. Yes. Sometimes I really wish I could turn the editor off. I’ve been back to read some of my favourite books from years ago and, while they’re still great, I can’t help but notice issues with the prose. Why can’t you shut up and let me enjoy the story, brain?

  2. Sebastian is right, get rid of the ‘was’ 😆 I never noticed that sort of thing before I started my MA, but now I can’t turn off my inner editor. It’s great when I’m editing my work, but not so awesome when reading!

    Sounds like an interesting book. The most important question for me is, did it end on a cliffhanger?

    1. I think we all need two brains: an editing brain that cringes when it reads “snow was falling”, and a reading brain that delights in the feeling of snowflakes on its cheek. Possibly also a creative brain that decided we needed snow in the first place. 🙂

      That’s an important question that I glossed over! No, it’s a complete story in itself, but as the first of a trilogy it leaves/creates huge problems for the world that need to be fixed in the subsequent books.

      1. I’d love that, although I bet my editing brain would still dominate! My tutor called me out on unnecessary details last week so I definitely need that creative brain to tell me when I don’t need things 😆

        Glad to hear it’s a complete story 🙂 Cliff-hangers drive me a bit nuts!

    1. Thanks! I like to write about books I’ve read but I find the average review not so fun to read, so I try to do something different.

      The world-building is definitely one of the fabulous things about this book. If you want to get away from pseudo-medieval Europe definitely check it out.

  3. I’m with Sebastian on whacking away verbs-of-being that pop up where they serve no purpose and bog down a sentence that’s just trying to do its job. Why “the half-invisible alien was flashing its lights as it turned the man inside out,” rather than simply saying “the half-invisible alien flashed its lights as it yada yada yada.” This probably bothers me because it’s a tic I find in my own writing. But yes, I’d like to read this book, when I can find the energy. Meanwhile, wine is a great idea.

    1. Aha! I managed to intrigue you. Mission successful. 🙂

      I hope you’re holding up all right under the weight of editing! (Wine helps with that too.)

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