Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Heavens Rise by Christopher Rice

Atmospheric and spooky are apropos words to describe The Heavens Rise, the new novel from Christopher Rice.  He takes young people from the Louisiana Bayou and thrusts them into a supernatural world of mystery, monsters, and magic.

Niquette Delongpre is leading a privileged life.  She has a loving family, and the ultimate jock boyfriend, Anthem. Marshall Feriot, a classmate, is not at all happy about Niquette’s choice of boyfriend.  He desires her, and he will manipulate anyone to get her to go out with him.  

Ultimately, he succeeds through a ruse, and the couple ends up at Elysium, the soon to be new estate of the Delongpre family.  When Marshall gets too aggressive at the end of the date, he falls into a pond of well water.  What resides in that well changes Marshall forever.  No longer fully human, he makes a terrible decision that leaves him incapable of bodily movement, but fully capable of inflicting evil on anyone he wishes.

Meanwhile, Niquette and her family vanish and leave Anthem and Niquette’s best friend, Ben, wondering what happened to them.  It turns out the answers are not so easy to understand or to deal with, and the malevolence that accompanies the answers leads to a life and death struggle for all of the people involved.

The Heavens Rise will leave you puzzled and intrigued as you try to figure out exactly what was in that pond that caused Marshall to act the way he did.  In addition, you will wonder exactly what Marshall has in store for Anthem and Ben, and how he will be stopped.  This was the strongest part of the novel for me—trying to get a handle on the evil that was coursing through the bayou.  Marshall was a great evil character.  I also loved the sense of post-Katrina New Orleans as a place of mystery and a potential breeding ground for a new monster.

What did not work for me was the character of Ben, Nicole’s best friend, who turns into a dogged reporter.  Yes, he wanted to know about Nicole’s disappearance, but he was not very interesting on his own.

About 100 pages from the end, I got the suspicion (later proved correct) that the end of this novel was going to be one that I didn’t like.  Instead of giving me a well thought out encounter between good and evil, Rice resorted to a weirdly motivated, nearly incomprehensible monster battle that left me completely cold.

Overall, the atmosphere and creepy characters were fun to read, but the tediousness of the end of the novel, as well as an implausible supernatural battle, make this one a pass for me.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  Regina

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The old grey donkey, Eeyore stood by himself in a thistly corner of the Forest, his front feet well apart, his head on one side, and thought about things. Sometimes he thought sadly to himself, "Why?" and sometimes he thought, "Wherefore?" and sometimes he thought, "Inasmuch as which?" and sometimes he didn't quite know what he was thinking about.

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