The Heavens Rise by Christopher Rice

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The Heavens Rise by Christopher Rice

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Category: Thrillers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: A horror suspense thriller with a superlative beginning and middle that would be astounding if it hadn't crept into incredibility towards the end. A real shame but well worth reading for the first two-thirds.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 336 Date: October 2013
Publisher: Piatkus
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0349402840

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Marshall Ferriott thinks he has Niquette Delongpre; she wants him as much as he obsesses about her. He's certain until a late night struggle in her family's swimming pool disavows him of the idea. However they aren't alone in the water. Something unwelcome and uninvited lives there that will shape both their abilities and their futures. Fast forward through the years and Marshall is completely paralysed yet, oddly, things die around him. And Niquette? She's missing along with the rest of her family.

Christopher Rice is literary aristocracy. His mother is novelist Anne Rice, dad was the late poet Stan Rice and late horror/fantasy writer Alice Borchardt was an aunt. However Christopher is not content to rely on family laurels and is a NY Times top selling author in his own right, this being his sixth novel since his debut, A Density of Souls in 2000.

Christopher maintains that he writes thrillers rather than horror, although if this novel is anything to go by, it's the sort of thriller that scares us half to death for the most part. He not only excels in the gore-fear when a head explodes, Mr Rice knows how to crank up the tension as Marshall develops in a way that provides the character with a podium place beside the likes of Freddie Kruger and Hannibal Lecter. This chap does things with his mind of which sadists can only dream. (That's Marshall by the way, not Christopher!)

The cast may sound a bit clichéd when listed: the rich society princess Niquette, Marissa the black, sassy journalist, Ben her preppy gay apprentice (for whom I have a soft spot) and football scholarship lad Anthem, Niquette's former boyfriend and bit of rough. However, again, in the hands of this author they rise above their cursory stereotypes. But...

Firstly I would suggest that the book blurb on the back cover remains unread as it includes spoilers. Secondly, I won't elaborate on the car crash two-thirds in but this is a turning point in quality as well as plot.

The novel goes from edgy excellence to bad Dr Who episode. It's almost as if this part was written by someone else with an eye on CGI opportunities if film options were bought. In keeping with this new mood, we're later introduced to a full-on central casting mad scientist who again will translate well into the movie but is totally out of step with the writing with which we fell in love earlier. Having said that, there's one hugely filmic explosion towards the end that also reads rather well.

I shall now be a contrary minx and recommend that this 5* start/3* end novel should be read. The first two-thirds are well worth it and the car crash's denouement may give you a bit of a giggle. If anything, Heavens has given me the urge to read Christopher Rice's back catalogue because, his desire for filmic moments aside, this is a bloke with talent to spare and a first class ability to make us hold our collective breath in oh such a good way.

I'd like to thank Piatkus for providing us with a copy for review.

Further Reading: If you'd like to sample Christopher's mother's work, we recommend The Wolf Gift by Anne. If, on the other hand you enjoy thrillers that make your heart thud out of its chest and fancy another, it's got to be The String Diaries by Stephen Lloyd Jones.

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