*Trigger Warning….this novel does contain themes of depression, suicide and death*
Set in South Australia, this short story starts at a very bleak time for Clayton and his family. The drought has dug in deep on their family property and his older brother is gone. Clay is left feeling powerless and frustrated by his family’s reluctance to speak about emotional issues.
Through a series of events Clay soon learns that there are powerful forces controlling the land and weather. He battles with the Red King and other powerful mystical beings to help his family and to try to experience petrichor (the smell after the rain has fallen) again. It’s been a long time since the rain has fallen and Clay must confront his fears to make this happen.
Rees highlights the powerlessness children feel after loss and hard times. Through the guidance of a fox spirit Waringa, Clay is able to learn how to exert control and power over the situation and his own feelings.
Another theme in this short story is the power of the mind and how sometimes our brains try to protect ourselves from our worst experiences. The memory is a fickle thing, as Clay finds out.
Clay is dealing with huge emotional issues as well as a quest to save his families farm and it made me realise the pressures of rural life on kids as well as adults. I would have loved to see a longer version of this story with Clay’s mother featured as well. Perhaps in a sequel?
A powerful story, tackling tough issues and some great fantasy elements as well.
I look forward to Rees next novel as Petrichor combined family tragedy, drought and fantasy seamlessly.
Important read 4.5/5