Having only read one book by Ray Wallace before this one, I had almost no idea what to expect from Days of Rain. That previous book was one of those adult choose your own adventure stories in which you play the second person protagonist and are given choices on how to proceed through the narrative, hoping to avoid an unfortunate end. It was fine for what it was, but what it did not do was demonstrate just how talented a writer Wallace is.
Days of Rain corrects that oversight. In spades.
Commencing with the stirring of a Lovecraftian evil known as Behemoth, Wallace wastes zero time in introducing the town and its inhabitants over which the shadow of this abomination will fall. A local pastor, an elderly widower, two redneck friends, an unhappily married man, and a gifted weatherman are just some of these characters - and yet all are memorable in their own way. Indeed, the strongest part of this very straight-forward novella are the characterisations. Wallace's ability to breathe life into these characters in a relatively short number of pages is truly impressive. So impressive, in fact, that to me Days of Rain felt like a much longer work; one in which I came to know and appreciate these characters in a way that few horror novels of three times the length seem to manage.
Told in short, sharp chapters that alternate through the third person POVs of all of these characters, Days of Rain is also structured smartly. Each chapter details one perspective of each day the rain associated with Behemoth falls on Hidden Bay, so that even if there was one or two characters the reader did not care for, it would be over very quickly. This also means Wallace does not get bogged down in unnecessary details, as each returning character has usually had several days since their last appearance, and there is only a few pages to bring the reader up to speed on what has transpired for them.
Behemoth, for its part, exerts its influence in insidious ways, subtly influencing the dreams of the town and then beginning to alter reality for some of the folk it has targeted. As a result, everything from the dead returning to life to people made of falling rain start to appear. Sometimes the result is unsettling; at others, it is fatal.
Whatever the result, it is always fascinating, and so it was with a genuine sense of disappointment that I swiped through the last pages of Days of Rain. I found that Wallace not only wove complex and engaging characters, but that the end result of each of their journeys was rarely obvious. And on top of all of that, the writing here is top notch: Truly a cut above that which normally passes for wordsmithing within the horror genre.
All of that said, Days of Rain is not a perfect novella. For one, it teases too much and delivers too little to be truly satisfying (though as the introduction from Gerard Hourarner teases there may well be more from Wallace set in this universe to come). I was also never fully on board with the rationale for why Behemoth would choose to exert its will so manifestly if it was not ready to yet be discovered by human kind.
Regardless of these minor quibbles, Days of Rain remains an excellent example of a beautifully written, atmospheric and tension-filled novella. It also marks the emergence of a major talent and should not be missed.
4.5 Life-Like Paintings for Days of Rain.
Originally posted at Horror After Dark, the preceding was based on a copy of the book provided by the author in exchange for an honest review, which you have now read.