Today it is my honour and pleasure to reveal the cover for The Necessity of Rain by Sarah Chorn which is coming 27th June 2023 and is available for preorder now! There is also an extract from the book (and oh your hearts are not ready for this one) to whet your appetite.
It begins with a butterfly in chains.
Since the dawn of time, life has been comfortable and predictable. The gods have wrested pockets of Creation from Chaos, formed civilizations, and built entire realities. Now, the nature of Creation is changing and the Divine are losing their divinity.
Rosemary, daughter of the God of Creation, can no longer deny this when a strange delegation from Dawnland braves the paths through Chaos and survives. Come to negotiate trade and protection agreements with the Divine of Meadowsweet, it is the butterfly woman who so captivates Rosemary. The weight of her sorrow, the heaviness of her secrets.
For the soul is a battleground. Clouds are massing along the horizon, and Rosemary…
She must survive the storm.
Sounds amazing right?
So, about that cover…
Cover for The Necessity of Rain…
Cover Art by Pen Astridge
Isn’t it beautiful? I just adore everything about this cover, from the colours to the style, and Pen Astridge has a talent for really capturing the essence of Sarah’s stories!
And if that stunning cover isn’t enough to get you picking up this book, then check out the extract below to get a taste of this beautiful story!
In the right light, my father’s hair shines silver.
Fear, deep and abiding, wraps cold hands around my throat. Squeezes. For a moment, I cannot breathe.
“How is she tonight?” I ask.
Anything. Anything to not think about that. To not think about what those strands of gray mean. I am not strong enough. Not yet.
So I force my thoughts away. From one pain to another.
Mother is perched on the window seat staring at the rose garden beyond. Tears hover on her lashes. Outside, the world is cast in shades of soft light.
“She drifts,” my father says. Simple are those words, and yet I can hear the pain etched in each of them.
I take a moment to park my wheelchair next to where I keep my spare cane and stand. My bones grind and my hip is unsteady, but I make my way to her, each step an effort of will. The weather is changing, a new chill is in the air and I feel it in my bones, in the way my muscles knot and coil.
Mother does not look at me when I reach her. She’s whispering something so low I cannot hear the words. “Mother?”
I ease onto the padded cushion, groan as my leg slips and I land in an ungainly heap. She reaches out to touch me, but stops herself, her fingers hovering a breath from my cheek. “Sometimes I look at you and think you are real but I know you are not. Why do my dreams haunt me so?”
Father chokes on a sob. Sorrow fills the room, thicker than water and I fear I will drown.
You must understand your tragedy, Mother once told me during one of her more lucid moments. You must recognize the knife to understand how it wounded you.
So I hold my tragedy’s hands the way I’d hold a bird in spring freshly fallen from its nest. “I am real,” I tell her. “I am flesh and blood. I am your daughter, and I am here.”
“Stop taunting me,” Mother whispers. Her eyes go wide and wild. She tugs on her hands, tries to pull them from my grasp. “Away! Away from me, thief of dreams! Away!”
She begins thrashing about, moaning long and low. Father, with starlight tears, moves to the vase on the table by the wall and grabs sprigs of clary sage from within, bright purple blossoms filled the air with their subtle perfume.
Father refills this vase each day from Father Terra’s Sacred Garden, back bent under the early morning light. He takes this task upon himself like it is his sacrament and will spend days paying his penance with guilt each time he must use them, as rare as that may be.
Without a word, he sets the flowers on my lap and bends to soothe Mother while I pull off my gloves. All it will take is a touch, and yet I hate doing this, using my Divinity for this purpose.
Mother begins rocking and moaning. Her head hits the wall with a low thunk.
Father presses his cheek against her breast and closes his eyes.
Who, I wonder, do gods pray to when they are in pain?
Oh, this moment. So much layered, dark agony. So many wounds.
My vines grow long, wreathing my face in shadow.
I lift the flowers. “I’m sorry,” I whisper before finding a spot on Mother’s thrashing arm and press them against her skin. It takes but a breath for the effect to take hold. Clary sage induces sleep when used with my touch, and Mother’s eyes focus on me, then slide closed. Her body goes limp and breath slow and steady. When I am sure she is fully under and resting well, I pull the flowers away. They have grown into small bushes heavy with blossoms. The moment I release them, they shrivel, spent.
I do not like withered blooms. They remind me too much of my life.
Father lifts her in his arms and carries her to the bed they share. He will lay beside her tonight and watch over her while she sleeps, dying a little between each breath.
What must it be like to live only in gasps?
Once, many years ago, I said, “Even now, you love her.” I had thrust those words at him with the intent to wound, yet I felt no pleasure when they struck their target true. For the beat of a heart, he let me see the depth of his pain and the wellspring of love that fed it.
“I do not love her even now or despite, Rosemary. I love her. It is as simple as that.”
“But this hurts you so,” I whispered. I knew well the agony of helplessness.
Father met my gaze and his eyes grew soft. “This pain is only the smallest part of it.”
A moment later he breaks through my memories with a hand on my shoulder. “There will be better days than this,” he whispers.
I feel the words more than hear them. Tears sting my eyes.
How soft hope can be, and still… it slices.
The vines of my hair grow long and fragile petunias bloom, turning their faces to drink the sun’s dying light.
I listen as Father picks up his phone and calls Goddess Dream. I know she will be here within moments with her notepad and pencil, drawing better things for my mother to see while she slumbers.
“I have not seen Mother so bad in a while,” I finally say, for it is better to face the matter head-on than hide from it.
“It has been some time.”
“If you’d told me—“
He smiles and the galaxies in his eyes dance. “I would not take you from your duties unless it is urgent. Today has been a bad day, that is all. Tomorrow, the sun will rise again. You know how these things go.”
I do, but despite that, each time this happens my heart breaks anew.
Father pulls me into his arms and I melt against him. Strange, how so long ago he terrified me. Now, my vines curl around his shoulders and the petunias open wider still, swaying in the breeze that always flows around him.
I pull myself together, step clear of his embrace, and dab at my eyes. The room we stand in is large and familiar, with pale yellow walls and white trim. Three high, arched windows look out at the garden beyond.
Father gives me time to gather the shattered pieces of myself. He is silent with his love, showing rather than saying the words, and yet when he does speak, he always does so with such care and mercy.
The god of creation is more lamb than lion.
“She loves you, Rosemary. Even when she doesn’t know you, she loves you.” He goes to the gramophone in the corner and turns on the piano music he so adores, then sinks into his wingback seat and I take the one opposite, feeling the leather fold around me like a hug. “But that is not why you are here.”
I can hide nothing from him.
In the right light, my father’s hair shines silver.
I lick my lips and suddenly find myself at a loss.
Words are such simple things, and yet when I need them most they sink, drowning within the ocean of my soul like a stone.
“Ah,” my father says. “Are you ready to talk about it yet?”
Gentle. He is always so gentle. Somehow, it is the softness of his words that slice me all the more. I break, then. A shatter so profound I am surprised he cannot hear it. Tears spill down my cheeks in rivers. My body trembles and a low wail flees past my lips like an escaped prisoner. Outside, the world seems somehow darker and more frightening.
I am a girl again, small and tender, and so very alone.
Hands rest on my shoulders. I would know him by touch alone.
“Not yet,” I finally manage.
He lets me have my sorrow and does not begrudge my tears. When I look up and meet his eyes, I see they are full of solemn understanding.
How can he be so easy with this while it savages me thus?
My father’s hair shines silver.
“Tomorrow, perhaps.” But the way he says it tells me he knows that tomorrow I will not be ready either. I do not know if I will ever be ready for that conversation.
“Does it hurt?” I birth the words on a wave of agony.
Please, do not be in any pain.
My father considers me for a moment, head tilted to the side, almost birdlike. Moonlit clouds marshal along his twilight cheekbones. The stars in his eyes spin slowly. “Sometimes, when the world is silent and still, I can feel each of my heartbeats.”
My breath hitches. “Is it terrible?” I hardly dare breathe the words.
“It is the music of existence. Why would that be terrible?”
Because it is so fleeting, I want to say.
Because it means you are only temporary.
Because there is an end.
“I will love you, Rosemary, whether I am here to say the words or not.”
My breath hitches. Sorrow stabs me. I picture this room, empty. My life, bereft. The world so large and frightening and I, alone to face it. No safe harbor. No port in the storm.
My father has always been eternal and now…
I can feel each of my heartbeats.
“I’m not ready to talk about this yet,” I whisper, voice trembling, as brittle as I feel.
Silence, and then my father nods once and turns to the window where the Luna pierces the dark and makes it bleed stars. “The moon,” he finally says, “is beautiful, is it not?”
I do not reply, but I study that sliver of light. My blood rises like high tide.
“It does not stop shining, Rosemary. Even when it waxes.” He hesitates. I feel his eyes on me. “Even when it wanes.”
“We will not talk about this tonight, my heart. For now, sit with me and savor the night.”
As if knowing I cannot bear another touch right now, he move away and gives me space, settling back in his chair. Soft piano surrounds us. The night is quiet and warm. Moonflowers bloom along the vines of my hair, petals catching the faint light. My father taps a rhythm along with the song, stars spinning from his fingers each time they beat against the leather armrest.
It is all so normal and yet…
I do not think I have ever felt so cold.
In the right light, my father’s hair shines silver.
For a moment, I cannot breathe.
“Look at the moon, Rosemary,” he whispers. “Just look at the moon.”
Sarah has been a compulsive reader her whole life. At a young age, she found her reading niche in the fantastic genre of Speculative Fiction. She blames her active imagination for the hobbies that threaten to consume her life. She is a freelance writer and editor, a semi-pro nature photographer, world traveler, three-time cancer survivor with hEDS, and mom to two. In her ideal world, she’d do nothing but drink lots of tea and read from a never-ending pile of speculative fiction books. She has been running the review blog Bookworm Blues for over ten years, has been editing books for four, and has been a published author since 2019.
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