The Heavens Rise is my first Christopher Rice novel. Going in, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but, in most ways, the author has exceeded my expectations. THR is equal parts crime drama, thriller, romance, paranormal and more. You can read the synopsis on Goodreads or Amazon but it doesn’t really do the book justice.
What I really liked:
- Character Development – the reader gets to know Niquette, Anthem, Ben, Marissa and Marshall. In some cases, we know more than is comfortable. Who really wants to be in the mind of a sociopath like Marshall? A good writer allows you to enter that mind, no matter how disturbing, and exit the other side without too many scars. Christopher Rice did this.
- Love of New Orleans – of course Rice loves New Orleans…his mom is Anne Rice, famous for her stories based in that city. I appreciated that Christopher not only talked about the beauty and the strong people. He also dipped into the underside and some of the not so pretty things that live there.
- Using timeline to build tension – For most of THR, the author goes back and forth through time. While Niquette’s journals begin the story, we are quickly taken to Marshall’s hospital room. He clearly is not a stable person (understatement of the year). As the novel progresses, we are shown the past events that put him in the hospital and ultimately led to the final showdown between the main characters.
- Marissa – probably my favorite character – a tough, smart African-American woman who has dealt with racism and sexism throughout her life but doesn’t allow it to bring her down. She fights for her career and for what she believes in.
What didn’t work as well for me:
- Most of the paranormal elements were well written and made sense. “Making sense” is important to me as a reader. I love zombies, vampires, wolves and witches. But, the who, what, where, when and why have to be there. There was one piece of this that just didn’t fit for me (no spoilers but basically the effect of having someone control your mind and feel strong emotion.) For some reason, I felt that this needed to be explained more fully. Maybe it was just so far-fetched that I couldn’t wrap my mind around it.
- Some of Niquette’s decisions were a little off. Based on what I knew of her as a character (friend, girlfriend, daughter), they didn’t seem in line with her personality. Most of it was pretty minor but I wished these mistakes had been further fleshed out so that I could understand why she chose a certain path.
- Overall the writing was well done. There was an example though of the same word (giant) used three times in two sentences. Just a personal pet peeve of mine.
In honor of Freaky Friday, I’m going to share a personal story. When I was pretty young (maybe 5-6), my Mom told me about an article she had read about amoebas. Apparently these gross organisms were in a pond and they decided to enter the brain of an unlucky swimmer. It caused personality issues and physical pain. Yes, my Mom told me this as a very young child. Since then I have had multiple nightmares on the subject and even the word “amoebas” makes me cringe. Why am I telling you this story in this review? Well, you have to read the book to find out but it brought this fear back into the forefront of my mind. Thanks, Mom. Thanks, Christopher Rice. Now I’m going to have the nightmares again.
4/5 stars for a really great story. Recommended to everyone!
Thank you to the publisher for providing an E-ARC through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.