Author: Christopher Rice
First Published: October 21, 2014
Genres: Horror, Paranormal
Format: ARC, eBook
The dark history of Spring House, a beautifully restored plantation mansion on the outskirts of New Orleans, has long been forgotten. But something sinister lurks beneath the soil of the old estate.
After heiress and current owner Caitlin Chaisson is witness to her husband’s stunning betrayal at her birthday party, she tries to take her own life in the mansion’s cherished gazebo. Instead, the blood she spills awakens dark forces in the ground below. Chaos ensues and by morning her husband has vanished without a trace and his mistress has gone mad.
Nova, daughter to Spring House’s groundskeeper, has always suspected that something malevolent haunts the old place, and in the aftermath of the birthday party she enlists Caitlin’s estranged best friend, Blake, to help her get to the bottom of it. The pair soon realizes that the vengeance enacted by this sinister and otherworldly force comes at a terrible price.
At Spring House, it’s not just a lone ghost that haunts the property—something has awoken. Something about this house makes it feel alive. That’s the impression I got going into The Vines, and I thought it was a unique twist to the classic haunted house story. The plot is heavily character-driven, with a diverse cast of characters dealing with personal trauma.
Even though I binge read this book, I wasn’t sure how I ended up feeling about it. At times it was thrilling, I wanted to know more about the mystery surrounding Spring House, and the action scenes are written in wonderful detail. On the other hand, I also found myself pretty disappointed with how one dimensional many of the characters were, particularly Caitlin and Nova. I just couldn’t find myself caring much about either one of them, which made it a little bit hard to remain interested in their respective roles in the plot.
“And he wonders if he has a space in his brain or in his soul for monsters and demons, or if he will, like most people, choose insanity when confronted with a fearsome reality.”
With Caitlin, she didn’t seem to be such a bad person, but the hatred and scorn from the people around her have reduced her to being a shadow of a person, not much ever comes from her character. The development of her character is seemingly dropped, she’s just there, all blind anger and rage and while it’s understandable, she has little impact on, well, anything. Which was unexpected considering the book’s synopsis was about her.
What is worse is that Nova isn’t too far off from Caitlin. While there is a part of me that likes how strong-willed Nova is, it is kind of annoying how she is just as blinded by her own rage and prejudice. Even she is barely relevant to the plot if I’m to be perfectly frank. It becomes obvious that the real story is about Blake and how he faces up to the past that has been haunting him for years. This is well and good and I enjoyed his story, but then all of the other characters just become filler and this was kind of a downer.
The book just took way too long to get to that point. The focus keeps shifting before the story really starts to pick up speed and it feels like it drags a bit. I also found the ending to be a little bit cheesy, it just didn’t do it for me. Overall the book was decent, Rice has a gift for description and it was entertaining for a while. I just didn’t find this one to be all that memorable.
Warnings: violence, sexual content, homophobia, hate crime, language