Barnes and Nobles (Nook Edition) /Amazon (Kindle Edition)
(Ghost Writer: Zombie Iago)
Wreathed in mystery, Christopher Rice’s first supernatural foray into the territory his mother traverses the same phantasmagorical New Orleans world with his own deft, individualized authorial voice. Now, the beginning of the novel was a bit of a challenge to read, since Christopher Rice calculatedly reveals the mystery that is the life-force of this novel slowly throughout the course of this very exciting novel that moves at breakneck speed at certain points of the novel. I’m not your atypical reader of this genre, mostly because I don’t normally read thrillers. Being one of the first thrillers I’ve read in awhile though, I had to stifle any fleeting feelings of impatience, and settle myself down for a type of novel that stylistically is constructed to be a mystery in all facets: characters, setting, and plot. Each of the chapters are approximately five to eight pages, encouraging you to flip pages faster to reveal more tantalizing details that concern the mystery that is at the core of this novel.
Amazingly, the unnamed villain (undisclosed in this review to safeguard the novel’s complex plot) seems a bit reminiscent of Iago from Shakespeare’s Othello. Then again, aren’t a lot of brilliant villains in novels mere facsimiles of brilliant Shakespeare villains? Anyways, this villain is sketched out in ambiguous detail, along with his particular preternatural abilities. Rather than have his abilities and motives be divulged from the first page as with Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, Christopher Rice perfidiously behaves as an Iago himself, as he brilliantly sketches the villain with clear, decisive details that are revealed slowly, which paradoxically causes the readers to become even more intrigued by this villain.
Since Christopher Rice writes with his own distinctive style, it is important to not compare his novels too closely with his mother’s own novels. Both writers are technically very different in how they envisage a novel. With The Heaven’s Rise, the setting works as a subtle homage being paid to his mother’s works, but the rest of the novel is uniquely new territory. Most of his characters are clearly human, even though a few (such as the Iago villain) have questionable connections with the supernatural world. Rather than have the supernatural world be the predominant angle of the novel, The Heaven’s Rise is very much entrenched in the affairs of the muggle (or mundane) world. Having the supernatural world be shadowy in this novel rather than clearly exhibited on center stage is really the pivotal element behind this novel’s excellent sense of suspense.
At times, Christopher Rice’s prose can be a bit winding and muddled at first, until you realize that the fuzziness comes more from the layered mystery that Chris is trying to carefully reveal to the reader. Therefore, saying his prose is either “winding and muddled” is clearly very disingenuous. As I adapted to his style of writing though, I saw that his prose was very competent without being too verbose. It achieves a very careful happy medium between being detailed, but not being too gratuitous with its detail. Some of the long sentences are brilliant in the way that they lull you into a sense of false security before an unexpected event suddenly springs itself upon the reader, meaning Chris carefully juxtaposes his sentences with the mind of a brilliant schemer of suspense.
While his mother might be more of a Mary Shelley, Christopher Rice is very much the Iago of the family with this novel in particular. Even though I was a bit disheartened by the fact that the novel was firmly settled in the human world as opposed to the supernatural world, I began to accept the novel’s stylistic angle and ended up really enjoying it. It was never tedious to read at any points, and the measured way the suspense hurtles the novel along with exacting alacrity keeps the reader’s interest piqued throughout the entire novel. Even if you are not a fan of thrillers, I still highly recommend that you read this thrilling novel, and be prepared to be catapulted into a frenetic world of endless mystery and surprises.