Sunday, December 23, 2012

Review: Rainbird, by Rabia Gale

Release date: October 10, 2012
Publisher: self-published
Format: eBook, 94 pages

Goodreads description:
She’s a halfbreed in hiding.

Rainbird never belonged. To one race, she’s chattel. To the other, she’s an abomination that should never have existed.

She lives on the sunway.

High above the ground, Rainbird is safe, as long as she does her job, keeps her head down, and never ever draws attention to herself.

But one act of sabotage is about to change everything.
For Rainbird. And for her world.

A note on the cover: It's not just beautiful, it also fits the character description perfectly and captures the mood of the story!


I was requested to review this novella by a friend of the author’s and given a free copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

I had never heard of the author before, and though the synopsis intrigued me I didn’t really know what to expect. However, I was quickly drawn into the story by Rabia Gale’s wonderful, sometimes lyrical writing style. The novella is fairly short at 94 pages and I would have read it all in one sitting if real life hadn’t always interrupted – it was hard to put down so I could catch sleep!

The world the author creates is truly unlike anything I’ve ever read, and I think that these days that says a lot! Rabia Gale created a whole microcosm with its own supernatural species (none of which you’ll know from other novels) and even flora and mythology, and she manages to do so without info-dumping the reader. There is enough information to follow the plot but you need to pay attention and puzzle things together on your own as well. At the very beginning I was a bit confused but I caught on fairly quickly.

Rainbird is a half-breed, part human and part eiree. The eiree are a race of beings who live on the sunway. What is the sunway, you might ask? Basically, it’s the bone-arch of the spine of a huge dragon who (supposedly) died ages ago. It serves as a sort of rail for the cycle of the sun as it travels around the earth. Rainbird lives there with her father, who is employed as one of many inspectors of the sunway, making sure there are no problems with the bone and that everything is in order generally. There is a huge support system in the interior of the dragon’s spine, and different areas serve different purposes. Everyone has their place – apart from Rainbird. No one must know that she is half eiree, that’s why she has to hide her crippled wings under a trenchcoat. She is not allowed on the Wing, where the eiree live, and she is not allowed downside with the humans either.

When Rainbird and her father discover a conspiracy and when a violent event in Rainbird’s past is revealed, they have to fight for both their lives as well as the continued existence of the entire sunway. There are several subgroups with conflicting interests in the sunway, and our heroine gets stuck right in the middle. I’d love to go more into detail but that would be too spoilery, and I wouldn’t want to take away the pleasure there is in getting to know this world on one’s own from future readers. The novella is fairly fast-paced, with both plenty of action as well as slower, beautifully lyrical descriptive passages, and the ending ties up nicely.

I really liked Rainbird. She was quick-witted, resilient, strong. She did what had to be done, and she was extremely protective of her father. Even when her situation seemed hopeless, she never gave up. I really enjoyed watching her grow and try to carve out a space for herself and figure out who she really is. The novel is told in the third person and mostly from her point of view, but sometimes the perspective shifts to her father and I liked these glimpses of his mind; it explained some of the things he did in the past and added another layer to Rainbird’s sometimes limited knowledge.

My only complaint is that the story was almost too short! There was so much world building, it almost felt like a bit too much content stuffed into too small a form. I would have loved to explore this world in a little more detail and get to know the characters yet better. If Rabia Gale ever writes another story or maybe a full-length novel set in this world, I’ll definitely read it! Her writing style painted a really vivid picture of everything for me and I’ll make sure to keep an eye out for her work in the future. In fact, the cover for her new book, Mourning Cloak, has been revealed this week and it’s absolutely gorgeous! Head over to her blog to check it out – there is also a giveaway going on.

I break fairy tales and fuse fantasy and science fiction. I love to write about flawed heroes who never give up, transformation and redemption, and things from outer space. In my spare time, I read, doodle, eat chocolate, avoid housework, and homeschool my three children.

A native of Pakistan, I grew up in hot, humid Karachi. I then spent almost a decade in Northern New England where I learned to love fall, tolerate snow, and be snobbish about maple syrup and sweet corn. I now live in Northern Virginia.

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  1. Oh, I just reviewed Rainbird today! And I had almost the exact things to say :D It was so lovely and I wanted it to be at least twice as long :)

  2. Haven't heard of this one before, but it sounds like a great read! It's so hard to find anything original lately, so excited to hear about an entire new world! Love the idea of the Sunway, and Rainbird sounds like a great character!

    My Saturday Situation

  3. This sounds very unique. I haven't heard of it before and appreciate your explanation and thoughts. Thanks!

  4. First time I've heard of this one and yup the cover is beautiful and the the title is great too. Sounds like a nice short read. I'm going to hunt it up on Amazon now... :)