A Density of Souls Paperback – 25 Jan 2002
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One might expect A Density of Souls to plough new furrows in vampire territory, given its author is the son of famed horror writer Anne Rice. But Christopher Rice's bold and startling debut is as far removed from his mother's supernatural fiction as could be. That's not to say there aren't similarities in this coming of age novel set in New Orleans and focusing on four friends, weighed down by the baggage of their parents and the aspirations and expectations of the city's affluent society.
At the forefront is Stephen, a young gay man who even now is haunted by the death of his father years before. Stephen is just beginning to realise who he is, his place in both his own world and that of his friends, when childhood allegiances are shattered and old painful memories come bubbling to the surface with shocking and violent repercussions.
Rice's debut is a dark, gloomy and, for the most part, humourless story, but one layered with so much truth and feeling that its hard not to care as the four friends are plunged into a world that forces them to grow up quickly. Stephen's sexuality is the driving force of the novel but he grows stronger as the novel progresses, much more able to accept and deal with it than his childhood companions. The sex scenes are sparse and stark but very rarely graphic. Rice has plenty to say on homophobia in both American high schools and the wider world, but it is about more than that. It's a fable on the power of lies, the corrupting power of secrets and inevitable yet painfully seductive hold that the people, places and events of our childhood have over the rest of our lives. The denouement twists and turns and culminates is an apocalyptic climax but it is a nerve shredding ending to a powerful, brutal, dark and seriously sexy thriller. --Jonathan Weir
Once inseparable, four friends enter high school to learn that their friendship cannot withstand the envy and rage of adolescence. Their struggles are fuelled by generations of family feuds and furtive passions hoarded within their opulent New Orleans homes and two violent deaths disrupt this closeted society. Five years latter the former friends are drawn back together as what was once held to be a tragic accident is revealed to be murder.A compelling, haunting debut by Anne Rice's son with a plot full of shocking twists that leaves the reader reeling.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
We've seen this teen angst, coming of age storyline before, but congratulations to Christopher for handling it in the unique way he has. I thought it was very well laid out; who cares about the syntax or grammar, as I'm sure he will be more careful in future when writing or editing. I enjoyed the book very much, and look forward to reading 'The Snow Garden' which I have already bought.
For a first novel, I say 'Well done'. To those who have criticised it I say get over it, and enjoy the book for what it is. I view it as a way to help young people see what effects xenophobia and bullying, fear and friendship, secrets and lies can have on people. It may even convince the bullies of their stupidity. And, due to the sexuality of the central character, whether you believe him to develop or not, his story will ring true with many young gays and lesbians around the world.
Obviously, embellishments are needed to make it worth the read:-
So why complain about the religious fundamentalism?! It is a fact, and is predominantly true to any coming of age story with regards to gay teenagers.
So what about the so called 'biblical' weather?! It is New Orleans, Florida, Caribbean - it's the weather, it happens, it is a fact, and it helped set the storyline so the main characters could settle the scores of their childhoods in the place where it all started, their hometown.
I think Christopher's young fresh mind is much needed in literary fiction, and it brings gay fiction to the fore, whether intended or not, without the need for gratuitously graphic sex scenes fit for a topshelf mag, or graphic details of violence and murder normally associated with established horror writers.
Final thought: well done Christopher, I only wish I could contact you personally to tell you that.
The story of four children, and their path through to adulthood is written so beautifully and so heartfelt.
This is like a fairytale in the way that it is written.
I can't do this book justice just buy it and settle down and enjoy it.
I got towards the end and was wanting to know what happened so badly, but also wanting not to read anymore, not wanting it to end.
The characters are well described, allowing me to picture every scene in the book. I had hopes of several endings, and like others thought this story would simply revolve around one kid coming out, and lots of angst following. But wrong, you get to know much more than one character, and get to love/hate many of them.
It's a rollercoaster of a story and should not be missed!
What I can say about this novel is that it's 'okay'. The writing is quite good, and a picture of the town and situation is handled nicely but I felt everything got very melodramatic very quickly. This is a novel that includes mass murder, suicides (by the plenty), rape, domestic abuse, a husband who has drugged his wife into a coma for five years, infidelity, self-harm, alcoholism....it get's to be a lot of issues very quickly. Then come the end of the novel, in case none of that was enough, the author has a hurricane hit the town, for well, no real reason other than because he can. It got a bit much.
Character wise nobody really stood out, it never felt like there was a main character...sometimes it even felt like there were too many. I found myself routinely getting confused as to who was related to who. They were not distinctive enough either, basically all I felt from them is that they were all depressed in some way.
Overall an easy book to finish but not one that I would recommend. The same story has been told much better before, and I found it to be quite an empty read, which isn't really what you want when dealing with the topics and issues that this book does.
Stephen is innocent and trusting... Especially of his three best friends Greg, Brandon and Meredith. The four of them are inseparable until that fateful day when everything changes. Highschool starts and Stephen is not only abandoned by his childhood friends he is openly and cruelly bullied by them. Will Stephen survive highschool? Will he ever find where he belongs or will he have to wait until after he graduates? Will the others ever grow up and leave him alone at least?
Filled with heartbreak and tragedy this mystery/suspense/thriller is an amazing (if unconventional) coming of age story that I am sure will inspire many a highschool misfit to look back and realize that the strength is in the survival. I really enjoyed the complex characters and intertwined storylines and can't wait to read more of his work to see what he comes up with next! I truly couldn't believe this was a debut novel because it was so well plotted :) Southern Gothic Fiction at its best!
***This novel is suitable for adult readers who enjoy Southern Gothic coming or age Noir and the complexities of being different :) Homophobes should steer clear !
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I ordered this book for my birthday and the moment it came though the post I immediately read it.
Like Night Before Day, this was a book I have read numerous times and never... Read more
Good read, would definitely recommend if you enjoy a thriller. Good plot and plan to read other books by authorPublished on 9 April 2014 by Elaine Dean
First Christopher Rice book that I have read and I loved it, this writer is on par with his famous mother. Read morePublished on 10 Oct. 2013 by postj84
Didn't like the first version and was happy to see he updated it. Makes more sense. Not as formulaic. Will continue to read his stuff as he grows as a writer.Published on 3 Oct. 2013 by Nicholas De La Rosa III
I was pleasantly surprised by this book from Christopher Rice (he obviously takes after his famous mother, Anne). Read morePublished on 8 July 2013 by JoBelle
Wow, seems like Mr Rice has split opinions amongst reviewers on Amazon!
I confess that I found this a compelling story, and disagree that the characterisation was poor. Read more
I read this after thoroughly enjoying The Snow Garden, the story is over the top and too much happens to make it a great book as it stretches believablity. Read morePublished on 1 Dec. 2007 by Philip Thompson