The Ninth Rain by Jen Williams

My blog mates tell me my original thoughts for this book are not appropriate, so it looks like you’re all going to get a little bit more than “Am too busy reading the sequel to review.” I thought this was actually quite a good one, but apparently not. So, without further ado, an actual review!

As you’ve probably already guessed, I really enjoyed The Ninth Rain. Williams does a fantastic job of building an immensely captivating world with a fantastic history, compelling characters, and a whole heap of awesome.

The Ninth Rain is a very unique blend of sci-fi and fantasy that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. The world has a long history of the same species of aliens repeatedly invading. As such, there are a lot of interesting historical alien artifacts that no one truly understands. One of the main characters, Vintage, a scholar and archaeologist, spends her time trying to discover more about these aliens and their history. Through Vintage, Williams creates a really nice exploration vibe. Characters are frequently investigating ancient artifacts, trying to understand the past and the aliens who frequently invaded.

The aliens themselves are really cool too. There are a couple of different types which appear in every invasion, and they’re unlike any sort of sci-fi or fantasy monster I’ve previously seen. Including, but not limited to; giant spiders; giant maggots, which eat everything and produce an impenetrable varnish they cover things with; tiny bugs that take control over people; giant flying ships—including one which is hanging in the sky as a ‘broken moon’; and more. They’re aliens that actually seem frightening, not in their shape, but in the way they can torment characters. Friends turned into mindless drones, family perfectly preserved in a varnish, people being eaten by giant inescapable monsters. I really love the emotions the characters display towards these creatures, the fear of what they can do, and the knowledge they can’t be reasoned with, hidden from, or redirected—the only options are fight or flight.

Another really interesting thing Williams does with her worldbuilding is through the creation of parasite spirits. After the last alien invasion, a new phenomenon started occurring in sites with high alien presence; because they’re so new, very dangerous, and scare people. They’re really interesting pieces of worldbuilding which frequently present an interesting question. Just what are these strange spirits and why do I feel like they’re really important?

There are plenty of other interesting things going on throughout this book too. An elf-like race which massacred people to use their blood to keep them alive. As you can probably guess, there’s a lot of racial tension and fear around the Eborans because of their history. Witches who create magical fire by sucking on people’s life force. What’s really interesting about these different types of characters is how Williams uses the world, history, and culture to create a multitude of conflicts between characters. Conflicts which characters need to learn to live with if they want to be prepared for another alien invasion.

If you haven’t already picked up on it, I’m a big fan of the world Williams has created. It’s unique and blends a large number of interesting things together to create a full and immersive world.

The characters are amazing too. Vintage, the cocksure archaeologist who is smart, clever, funny, and has a maternal streak 3 miles wide. She was an absolutely amazing, compelling character that I really enjoyed reading about. Tormalin the Oathless and Fell Noon were also amazing characters with interesting stories, and captivating personalities. The three of them made a great team and had chemistry with each other. I think one of the most engrossing things about the main cast was their motivations were evident very early on and they all had their own fears which were relatable to me as the reader. Essentially, the felt like real people with real personalities and real struggles.

I think the only major thing I haven’t covered yet is the plot. Probably my only real concern with The Ninth Rain, it started off very slowly. The world and characters are introduced bit by bit, and I didn’t feel entirely drawn into the events that were happened until the characters met each other 30-40% of the way into the book. After that though, things really took off and I could not put the book down. The slow start and the depth of information provided early on really helped my understanding and engagement with the second half of the book though.

It also has one of the best mixes of fantasy and sci-fi I’ve ever read too. Aliens are built into the history of the world and make the whole thing very interesting.

Overall, I really loved The Ninth Rain, a story of the discovery of self, history, and science. Would highly recommend to people who enjoy:

  • Interesting characters
  • Fantastic world building
  • Aliens in fantasy
  • Interesting magic
  • Female MCs
  • Strong female characters
  • Non-human MCs
  • LGBT Characters

The fantastic Wol has also created a themed cocktail to go with the book, which can be found here

4 comments

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