The Heavens Rise, by Christopher Rice.
I was resistant at first. The idea of a gurgling, classical French fountain surrounded by all that wild foliage appealed to my teenage love of the Victorian gothic. But my father used a very simple and cogent argument to change my mind; I loved to swim, but with my mortal fear of snakes, I'd never so much as stuck a toe in the thick finger of black water that snaked through our property like the waterlogged path of some giant jungle serpent. But if I had a cool, perfectly clear pool of pure water, direct from the source ...
Eventually, I gave in. Of course my father still asked for a show of hands, which seemed like a silly formality to me, but I cast my vote anyway. A swimming pool it was.
It was a decision that destroyed our lives.
This is the first novel I've read by Christopher Rice, the son of Anne Rice, vampire and supernatural novelist. I received a copy of The Heavens Rise a while ago but just now got around to reading it, and I'm definitely glad I did. Even though it's pegged as a "horror" novel, the horror is expertly woven in and you might not realize until 3/4 of the way in that it's a horror/supernatural book, when things suddenly come to light that were not introduced before.
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.
I liked this novel a lot because it had different themes throughout; the main theme being jealousy and revenge, as Marshall Ferriot was ultimately rejected by the teenage Nikki as a suitor. Within the few weeks they were dating, something happens to both of them ... to avoid spoilers, it's something that can't be undone, and then a little while later, Nikki and her family are in a car accident, never to be seen again.
I also liked that the book takes place in pre- and post-Katrina New Orleans - it starts off in 2005 and flashes to present-day 2013, with flashbacks to 2005 often too, so that we get the whole story. Ben, Nikki's best friend, and Anthem, her longtime boyfriend, both still keep in touch, and they start to realize that there might be more to Nikki's car accident than they originally thought.
I would definitely read another of Rice's books based on this one, even though overall I'm not a horror novel fan. This novel didn't really seem like a horror movie until 3/4 of the way in, as I said before, although the book trailer (see below) pushes its horror elements. I am not sure if his other novels are horror-themed or not, but I would still be willing to give them a try based on The Heavens Rise.
4 stars out of 5.
*Disclosure: I received a copy of this novel for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.
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