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–
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.
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.
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.
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.