In continuing with last week’s “I love Louisiana” theme, let’s talk The Heavens Rise by Christopher Rice. It’s cold where I live right now, so swampy humidity is a big plus for me.
It’s been a decade since the Delongpre family vanished, and still no one can explain the events of that dark and sweltering night. No one except Niquette Delongpre, who left behind her best friends, Ben and Anthem, to save them from her newfound capacity for destruction… She alone knows the source of her very bizarre—and very deadly—abilities: an isolated strip of swampland called Elysium.
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, 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. 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 loved the mystery of the novel–what’s happening and how does it work? Each character that was featured in point-of-view was established and distinct. There were images that stay with me: snakes filling a swimming pool, lights hanging from trees when Niquette’s father proposes to her mother, and post-Katrina New Orleans. I also loved learning about the barge drivers on the Mississippi.
As the book nears its end, and all the secrets must be revealed, I began to lose interest. However, when you have a book that’s propelling you forward with mystery the way The Heavens Rise does, maybe it’s just that there’s nothing left to discover.
A question for writers: How do you end a book with many secrets without disappointing readers by answering those secrets?
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