The Heavens Rise

Christopher Rice. S&S/Gallery, $26 (336p) ISBN 978-1-4767-1608-4
Although Rice (A Density of Souls) refers to his story as a “chronicle of monsters and magic,” it would be more accurate to describe it as a masterful coming-of-age novel. Set in a present-day New Orleans beset by natural disaster and human corruption, the story focuses on four young people: Niquette Delongpre, a child of privilege; her longtime best friend from childhood, Ben; her lover, Anthem; and Marshall, the outsider who plays the serpent in the others’ adolescent Eden. Shortly after Niquette and Marshall are attacked by mysterious pool-dwelling organisms, Niquette and her family drive off the road. Marshall jumps through a 31st-story window, landing in a comatose state from which he can psychically cause acts of carnage. Chapters from different perspectives slowly reconstruct the tapestry of connections among Niquette, Anthem, and Ben, and poignantly captures the boys’ inarticulate pain over Niquette’s loss and their personal struggles. Rice’s characters are complex and real, his dialogue pitch-perfect, and his writing intelligent and strong. He builds suspense beautifully as Marshall’s malevolence reaches a crescendo of violence amid enduring philosophical questions about what it means to be human. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/26/2013
Release date: 10/15/2013
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