Title: The Heavens Rise
Author: Christopher Rice
Genre: Horror, Paranormal
Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: October 15, 2013
Acquired: ARC from Netgalley.com
Read Dates: Oct. 29-31, 2013
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 sole 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 can bring her parents back. 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.
Ok, I’ll go ahead and warn you that Goodreads’ book description is misleading. You assume Niquette (Nikki) Delongpre is going to be your main character, but she isn’t. She is one of the driving forces of the novel, but she’s really not present very much. Ben Broyard, Anthem Landry and Marshall Ferriot are really your key characters here. Ben is Nikki’s BFF, Anthem is Nikki’s boyfriend and Marshall is the bad guy who wants Nikki all for himself. Trust me when I say, I’m not giving anything away by telling you Marshall is the bad guy. You come to that conclusion within the first couple of chapters.
In addition to the misleading description, the writing had some serious flow issues. It seemed very disjointed in certain sections. The jumps between past and present could be whiplash inducing. I also struggled with knowing who was speaking during conversations. The quotation marks were there, so I’m not sure why I had this problem. There just wasn’t enough definition I guess.
Lastly, some of the characters were under-developed. Nikki and Anthem both could have used more fleshing out.
Ben was by far the most developed of the characters. He came across as very “real” to me. His struggle with being gay, the supposed loss of his best friend and his inability to connect with people really made this a coming of age story for him. He is driven to do the right thing, but often feels impotent. He is flawed yet loveable.
Marshall was also pretty well-developed. As I stated before, he was the “bad guy” here. He was not your normal bad guy. Marshall was sick and sadistic. A psychopath by its very definition. Getting into this guy’s head was rather disturbing. His aloof attitude about his actions made him even more vile. I felt like I needed a bath after every chapter he narrated.
Another main character in this book was New Orleans itself. It truly has its own presence throughout the story. I was recently reading a post by Tif Talks Books. She was talking about the three aspects of every story: character, plot and setting. We both agree that characters are typically the most important part of every story for us, but she attended a writing workshop that pointed out the setting is the most important. I don’t think she necessarily believed this, nor do I, but in The Heavens Rise, it is definitely applicable. New Orleans permeates every part of the tale making it a stand alone character. I don’t think this book would have worked if it had been set anywhere other than New Orleans.
The plot definitely held its own. It was not overwhelmed by the characters or setting. There were plenty of twists and turns to keep me interested. I found myself wanting to get back to it in order to find out what was coming next. To me that is always a good sign. It is one of the deciding factors in what my final rating will be. I can forgive a lot as long as the plot keeps me hooked.
I was torn between 3.5 & 4 stars, but my final rating is 4 out of 5 stars. The book had some flaws, but they were forgivable. The plot drew me in and kept me hooked. I was left with a few questions about the “parasites” from the swamp, but not to the point that I couldn’t enjoy the book. Some of the characters were well developed and relateable. I believe New Orleans was the stand out character here. Rice wrote about her as a lover, beautiful yet deeply flawed, both addictive and repelling.
So, if you are looking for a deeply engaging novel with deep meaning, this might not be the one for you. If you’re looking for a fun ride and a fast read, I would advise you to give The Heavens Rise a shot.
“Marissa told herself…to stop letting the voices of her own insecurities masquerade as insight.”
‘Nothing in life is under our control except how we treat people.”
“You do your best work when you’re not working your own agenda.”
“I have learned that magic withheld gives birth to nightmares, and so I have no choice but to stand back, open my heart and let the heavens rise.”
I’d like to give a shout out to Netgalley.com, Gallery Books & Christopher Rice for giving me the opportunity to read and review this ARC.