When It Rains by Mark Allan Gunnells

Review by Brennan LaFaro

The sky opens up and rain pours down. Not an uncommon occurrence by any stretch of the imagination, even when it isn’t in the forecast, but what if it happens simultaneously all over the world? What if there’s something just a little bit off about the rain itself?

It’s a simple enough premise, but Gunnells aims to add to the conversation. The reader believes they’re about to sink their teeth into a disaster story, something in the vein of Earthworm Gods, but the rain quickly turns center stage over to the various refugees.

From there, Gunnells he proceeds to craft a human-centric story that (arguably) could only have been written in the last two years. Human action, and inaction, that readers might previously have written off to being inauthentic, holds a mirror up to modern society.

The use of close third-person and multiple points-of-view allow for characters from all walks of life to speculate about the severity and potential danger in this slime-like rain. These niche societies predictably fracture and devolve, taking the story to places the reader laments, but believes.

Gunnells holds his cards close to the chest for as long as possible, seemingly with a smile as he deals them one at a time. You might think you know what’s left when he’s down to the very last one, but like any seasoned card sharp, or wordslinger in this case, you’ve spent all your time looking exactly where he wants you to.

When It Rains is a character-based novella with all the elements of a thriller. It’s got a little science fiction at its roots, but like most of Mark Allan Gunnells’ work, ultimately deals in humanity.

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