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The Vines by Christopher Rice

The Vines is a standalone gothic thriller-horror novel by Christopher Rice. The main reason I picked it up at Netgalley was because the author is the son of the famous vampire novels author Anne Rice, who literally made me love books about vampires (romance, horror and anything in between).

I was curious about how the son of the famous author writes his books, and to be honest, the subject of the story intrigued me as well, having had a long lasting love for The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham (a book that I highly recommend).

In addition I love Southern Gothic mysteries, I can never pass one up once I see it on any real or virtual shelf.

The story starts with Caitlin Chaisson, the owner of the Spring House, a huge plantation mansion, having a seemingly fun birthday party. Except she finds her husband, the handsome policeman Troy, betraying her with another woman in the side shed building.

Seeing the betrayal, in her depression she decides to take her life at the gazebo by cutting her wrists, when something weird happens to her and around her, something that will change her life and that of everyone close and dear to her. Her spilled blood awakes something from deep below the ground, under the gazebo, something dark, evil, yet strangely alluring. At least to Caitlin, anyway.

Next Caitlin’s husband disappears, never to be found again, and the woman he was with that night becomes mad, raving about some really weird things and shining lights.

Nova, the daughter of the estate’s groundskeeper has this feeling that something more is going on than what the police believes, so she asks for help from Blake, once Caitlin’s best friend, to look into what is really going on.

The story started strong, with a lot of promise, giving us some strong expectations of things to come. Sadly that promise didn’t really materialize. The story that followed fell rather flat. I didn’t really find the book quite as suspenseful, and the plot somewhere along the lines got lost in details.

It did have a surprising ending, which I never saw coming, however between the beginning and the end there were several side stories which I didn’t really care for, which I thought took the whole main story in a direction I didn’t much care for..

The writing was a bit too flourished in the descriptions of places, people and happenings, which I guess tried to match the atmosphere of the place and time. I do enjoy the author’s writing, don’t get me wrong. I just felt here it was a bit too ‘overdone’ in this book.

As for the characters, I never really could get attached to them, although I did want to like Blake and Nova – probably the most interesting characters in the book. I remained with the feeling that the author could have given them a bit more attention, more depth to make us care about them a bit more.

Overall The Vines was a good read with a fun story and interesting characters, a book with the potential to be a real hit in the ‘evil plants’ popular horror sub-genre. I enjoyed it, but not particularly loved it.

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