As an after effect of the tragedy, there is now an ever-growing body of writing which celebrates post-Katrina New Orleans. Readers will not be surprised to hear that Christopher Rice has added a compelling paranormal tale to this heart-felt lineage of literature.
The Heavens Rise is the story of Niquette Delongpre and the three men in her life. Ben Broyard is her best friend, Anthem Landry is her true love, and Marshall Ferriot is the unstable suitor. Starting in pre-Katrina New Orleans (circa 2005), the actions of these four citizens will resonate for years, finally coming to a crescendo in present day Louisiana.
When Anthem Landry and Nikki Delongpre break-up in the summer of 2005, Marshall Ferriot seizes his moment to ask out the girl he has always had his eye on. Their first serious date hardly goes as planned when Nikki takes Marshall to her family estate called Elysium. Events turn violent and both Niquette and Marshall fall into the outdoor pool. Unbeknownst to them, contact with this water has exposed them to a parasite that is going to change the course of their lives.
Nikki and Anthem reunite and all seems to be going well until the entire Delongpre family disappears. The mystery of what happened to them, and most especially – to Nikki, will fuel the narrative of Rice’s novel. The bulk of the plot is set in 2013 New Orleans, as the three male characters deal with the path their lives have taken since the disappearance.
Ben Broyard is working as a newspaper reporter and has always felt that there was more to this story. Anthem Landry has never gotten over the loss of Nikki and consoles himself with bottles of liquor. Meanwhile, Marshall Ferriot starts the novel in a hospital room, while around him, strange things are occurring.
Christopher Rice’s story presents both love and hate as powerful emotions that can become manifest in various ways. The bond of friendship runs very strong throughout the novel. Readers will feel the connections between Nikki and both Ben and Anthem. Readers will feel the ache when these boys reminisce about the dear friend they have lost. Similarly, it is impossible to deny the level of longing that Marshall feels for Nikki and how that feeling can so easily lead to hatred.
What resonates when the final page of The Heavens Rise has been turned is this human tendency to take personal blame for acts of tragedy which really have no cause or which were caused by the careless actions of another; while conversely an individual’s inability to take responsibility can have ramifications far beyond their sphere of influence. It seems to be this interconnected-ness which Christopher Rice is celebrating with this paranormal novel which touches on interpersonal dynamics, diversity, media coverage and much more.
With The Heavens Rise, Christopher Rice has once again proven himself as one of our most insightful novelists and reinforces the idea that novels with paranormal elements can still make astute comments on real-world situations.
Disclaimer: An e-galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the publisher. No review was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.