Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Heavens Rise by Christopher Rice- Review

The Heavens Rise by Christopher Rice
Available Now
Hardcover 336 pages
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From Goodreads- New York Times bestselling author Christopher Rice brilliantly conjures the shadowed terrors of the Louisiana bayou—where three friends confront a deadly, ancient evil rising to the surface—in this intense and atmospheric new supernatural thriller.

It’s been a decade since the Delongpre family vanished near Bayou Rabineaux, and still no one can explain the events of that dark and sweltering night. No one except Niquette Delongpre, the survivor who ran away from the mangled stretch of guardrail on Highway 22 where the impossible occurred…and kept on running. Who left behind her best friends, Ben and Anthem, to save them from her newfound capacity for destruction…and who alone knows the source of her very bizarre—and very deadly—abilities: an isolated strip of swampland called Elysium.

An accomplished surgeon, Niquette’s father dreamed of transforming the dense acreage surrounded by murky waters into a palatial compound befitting the name his beloved wife gave to it, Elysium: “the final resting place for the heroic and virtuous.” Then, ten years ago, construction workers dug into a long-hidden well, one that snaked down into the deep, black waters of the Louisiana swamp and stirred something that had been there for centuries—a microscopic parasite that perverts the mind and corrupts the body.

Niquette is living proof that things done can’t be undone. Nothing will put her family back together again. And nothing can save her. But as Niquette, Ben, and Anthem uncover the truth of a devastating parasite that has the potential to alter the future of humankind, Niquette grasps the most chilling truths of all: someone else has been infected too. And unlike her, this man is not content to live in the shadows. He is intent to use his newfound powers for one reason only: revenge.

This is the first novel I've read from Christopher Rice and I debated reviewing it here. This is an adult novel and is recommended for the 18 and up set. The characters are in their twenties but there is a good portion of the story told from their perspectives as teens. I'll tell you right away, I loved this novel so sit back and prepare to read my gushing.

The story is a supernatural one, but fairly believable. Like plague outbreaks and other deadly disease outbreaks, I find it believable that some toxic substance could be festering underground, waiting to be unearthed in the bayous of Louisiana. Have you seen that water? Have you seen what we've done to the environment? Think of all the oil spills and runoffs and other things that have spilled over into the bayous, rivers, lakes, oceans. I'd believe just about any story someone told me about what they saw on the bayou.

What I love most about this story is the setting - New Orleans. There is talk of Katrina and rescue efforts. Anthem is a crewboat captain. He pilots the huge ships down the Mississippi  through the tricky passages of the river keeping his beloved New Orleans safe from the contents of these massive ships. In fact, he becomes the mouthpiece for the other pilots when a newspaper writes a somewhat inflammatory story about them in the paper. His rebuttal is heartfelt and honorable and gives me a new sense of what these men do for a living, how dangerous it is and how important it is. Elysium is on the outskirts of New Orleans. Anthem lives across from the floodwall. I've never been to New Orleans, but I travel there everytime a novel, a good one, set there describes the air, the people, the buildings. I traveled there this time. Especially to the smaller, more intimate places, Rice describes, like the boat, the wreck really where Anthem and Nikki used to meet.

I've seen this novel described as horror, but it isn't in the vein of Stephen King. Not to me. To me, all things are possible in New Orleans. It's got that kind of supernatural feel and you add a little chemical toxins to it and you've got something supernatural. Good or evil, that depends on the bearer of the power. And in the end, it always comes down to good versus evil, the horror to me is if the evil wins.

This is a fast paced novel and its very hard to say much without giving anything away. Suffice it to say that it keeps you guessing, wondering how anything can possibly work out. I so wanted Anthem to have a happy ending. Of all the characters in the novel, he was my favorite. He was just a good ol' Southern boy. My favorite kind. He worked hard for a living. He loved hard, his friends, as well as Nikki. His heart broke, so broken, when Niquette's family car was found in the bayou. He's just a good guy. And I really loved him.

Ben, Anthem's best friend, and a newspaper reporter is a great character. He's spent most of his adult life running around rescuing Anthem from drunken weekends and DUI's. He misses Nikki as much as Anthem does. Spent weeks posting missing flyers of her and her parents with Anthem. And then he became a journalist. And he's best friends with his boss, Marissa, who taught him the ropes. Ben is a great character and you can see why he and Anthem are best friends and why Nikki and the two of them were inseparable.
Ben is gay, there is no love triangle, but he's not the token gay friend. He's intelligent, curious, kind and daring.

Marissa, doesn't care a lot for Anthem, mainly because of all the times Ben has had to bail him out of trouble. She thinks he's a waste of time, wasting his life boozing it up, dragging Ben all over the place. But when Anthem stays sober for six months, he does start to grow on her. She starts out as idealistic, but when the paper is bought out, she toes the company line. It becomes her undoing. Still, Marissa is a great pairing with Ben.

There are other characters that have great depth and motivation and I think Christopher Rice shows his strength in his characters. He could have had them have a fist fight and I still think there was enough in the characters to make it interesting. I love characters and the ones in The Heavens Rise were complex and simple at the same time.

But don't misunderstand me. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with the plot. As complex and simple as the characters are, so is the plot. At it's heart, the plot is revenge. But the details are so intricate, the knot so finely tied and woven, it takes 336 pages to tell it. And believe me, there isn't a page wasted with anything extra.

Again, I do recommend this for the 18 and up crowd. Well developed characters and a supernatural plot make it a really enjoyable read. I couldn't put it down!

Thanks to the publishers at Gallery Books for the e-ARC provided through NetGalley for early Review. I was not influenced by this in my review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Christopher Rice 


  1. I just ordered this book for my library, Heather! I'm really excited to read it now. What drew me to the book is the New Orleans setting and the subtle supernatural world. This sounds like a great fall read especially with that beautiful cover. I'm so glad you decided to review this book.

  2. I read this one too and enjoyed it as well. You are spot on about the plot. To me this was a plot book more than a character book. I'm with you, I really liked the secondary characters the best. I just had a hard time with some of the animal deaths. But that is me, and may not be others. :)

  3. "...sit back and prepare for gushing..." no need. I'm sold. :)


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