Bookshots: "The Heavens Rise" by Christopher Rice
Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review
The Heavens Rise
Who wrote it?
Christopher Rice, New York Times Bestselling author of A Density of Souls and Light Before Day. Also, Anne Rice’s son.
Plot in a Box:
Scientific/supernatural thriller surrounding the disappearance of the Delongpre family and Marshall Ferriot, a sadistic degenerate with mind control abilities.
Invent a new title for this book
X-Men: Port of Call: New Orleans
Read this if you liked:
Anything by Jeffrey Deaver, anything by Dean Koontz (but particularly Midnight), and, though Rice apparently hates the horror distinction, just about anything by Stephen King.
Meet the book’s lead:
Though technically an ensemble piece, the clear protagonist is Ben, a dry-witted investigative journalist who helps solve the mystery.
Said lead would be portrayed in a movie by:
I could see Jay Baruchel doing a bang-up job, as he could manage the seriocomic nature of the part.
Setting: Would you want to live there?
Absolutely. The Heavens Rise is a love-letter to New Orleans. Rice points out some of the city’s biggest problems, but he also depicts it as the greatest place on earth, a landscape populated by “stately oak trees,” lush greenery, and fascinating people; a city still thriving all these years after Hurricane Katrina; a city that will not lie down and die.
What was your favorite sentence?
Marshall tapped the side of his head with one finger and smiled broadly, and that’s when Danny realized there was something in the kid’s head, something that defied everything Danny had believed to be true about the world, something that had covered his office in blood while it thrust Danny into some corner of darkness inside himself.
Overall, The Heavens Rise is an enjoyable read. Rice uses smart and evocative prose to describe and get inside his characters, and you come away with a genuine feeling of familiarity with these people (the one exception being Nikki, the only child of the Delongpre family and Ben’s best friend, who at times feels more like a plot device than a living, breathing person). The mystery elements are intriguing, and the explanation behind Marshall’s dangerous power is quite original and imaginative (I won’t say what that explanation is, because, you know, spoilers).
While I’m not adverse to narratives that clip, this one seemed to clip just a bit too quickly. Though Rice’s characters are well-fleshed, this is a plot-driven story, with more reactions to external events than actions driven by the characters’ desires; things happen to the characters, but by and large the characters don’t make things happen. Narratives of this sort aren’t inherently bad, but because Rice developed his characters so well, I wanted to spend more time with them.
The third act gets a bit mired in expository dialogue and lapses in logic. Again, spoilers prevent me from elaborating on this further, but suffice it to say, some of the puzzle pieces didn’t fit as well as others. Nonetheless, The Heavens Rise is an engaging, sometimes nasty little ride with its positive aspects outweighing the negative. Marshall is a fantastic villain, a Joker-level threat to The Big Easy with a boundless lust for chaos and revenge, and Ben is just the right kind of underdog hero to stop him. Rice also leaves some wiggle room for sequels, so we may get to spend more time with these characters after all. Pick this one up for a quick Halloween read.
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