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Book Review: The Vines by Christopher Rice

The Vines is a 2014 Bram Stoker Award Finalist for Superior Achievement in a Novel and the award committee doesn’t disappoint with its selection.  Christopher Rice has just started to mine the rich paranormal and supernatural tales from New Orleans that his mother turned into household names, but with this novel he proves he can handle this topic as well as, if not better than Anne.

The story is set in present-day New Orleans and involves a grown up ‘poor little rich girl’, her gay best friend, her cheating husband, her household employees (who know the legends of her plantation better than she does) and a plantation haunted by the spirits of the slaves who once worked the sugar cane fields that made the family wealthy.  Does that sound like a lot for one book?  Not in Rice’s hands, Christopher is able to twist and twine these plot points around each other until they are wrapped up in a neat and yet equally horrifying bow.

One of the strengths of this book, as well as of Rice’s other novels, are his characters.  He writes men and women that evoke strong feelings from his readers and that makes you instantly connect with their successes and failures.  You are at times breathless anticipating what your favorite (or least favorite) character will do next and how it will affect the story.  I am personally attracted to writer’s who build strong and relatable characters and I love the way Rice is invested in his characters and the way that he draws you into that relationship with him.

Rice shares far more than a just a name and a talent for writing with his mother, he also shares her love of their hometown and is able to describe New Orleans and its surrounding suburbs with meticulous detail.  You can actually feel the humidity and smell the rot of plants that have had too much water as he takes you through the stately home on St. Charles Avenue and on to the vast gardens of Spring House, the family’s plantation on the river.  You can hear the insects, smell the perfume worn by ladies at a party and see the cocktail dresses sparkling in the candlelight.  Nothing in his world is left to chance as he builds toward the showdown between good and evil.  Once you start reading, just put yourself in Rice’s hands and let him guide you to the end.

The Vines is published by 47North and is available as an eBook, paperback or mp3 file on Amazon.

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