While swimming in a secluded creek on a hot Sunday in 1969, sixteen-year-old Eugene and his older brother, Bill, meet the entrancing Ligeia. A sexy, free-spirited redhead from Daytona Beach banished to their small North Carolina town until the fall, Ligeia will not only bewitch the two brothers, but lure them into a struggle that reveals the hidden differences in their natures. Drawn in by her raw sensuality and rebellious attitude, Eugene falls deeper under her spell. Ligeia introduces him to the thrills and pleasures of the counterculture movement, then in its headiest moment. But just as the movement’s youthful optimism turns dark elsewhere in the country that summer, so does Eugene and Ligeia’s brief romance. Eugene moves farther and farther away from his brother, the cautious and dutiful Bill, and when Ligeia vanishes as suddenly as she appeared, the growing rift between the two brothers becomes immutable. Decades later, their relationship is still turbulent, and the once close brothers now lead completely different lives. Bill is a gifted and successful surgeon, a paragon of the community, while Eugene, the town reprobate, is a failed writer and determined alcoholic. When a shocking reminder of the past unexpectedly surfaces, Eugene is plunged back into that fateful summer, and the girl he cannot forget. The deeper he delves into his memories, the closer he comes to finding the truth. But can Eugene’s recollections be trusted? And will the truth set him free and offer salvation . . . or destroy his damaged life and everyone he loves?
I think Carolina is probably my favorite American setting. Oh, those Carolina summers… In The Risen, it’s 1969 (I’ve read at least 5 books set in 1969 this year!!!), so it has lots of potential to become a great read.
The Risen started off pretty well and grabbed me from the start. The book tells the story of two brothers: Bill, 21 and Eugene, 16 who one day meet dangerous Ligeia, a young girl who turns their lives upside down in the course of one summer. 45 years later, a dramatic discovery brings the two brothers together again…
Ron Rash writes beautifully and after reading this book I’ve realized this is my favorite type of writing. The one that focuses on details of daily life and family matters. Even if nothing had happened, I would still have liked this book. Somehow, it reminded me a bit of White Nights In Split Town City, even if the plot was completely different. But my feelings were similar.
Ligeia was a fascinating character, which isn’t the same as saying she was likable (because I kind of hated her). Sshe was the perfect storm, arriving unexpectedly and changing everything with her beauty and persuasion powers. Phil and Eugene’s grandad wasn’t exactly a good person, but I loved reading about him and his relationship with his family. His war stories, his promises to their mom, his weird rules about marrying and going to college. Everything was so completely inappropriate that you couldn’t help to roll your eyes at certain scenes.
Another aspect I loved about The Risen is that even though it’s 1969 and the counterculture movement was present in most of the big cities, our characters don’t seem to know what’s going on outside their town. They live in their own bubble, oblivious to what’s happening out there. Their town was like a time-capsule. The storyline wasn’t that original but it was nevertheless captivating: a compelling southern coming of age story.
The negatives: even though I deeply enjoyed reading this, I didn’t really like any of the characters, which sadly means I won’t remember this novel as much as I’d want to. The ending was a tad disappointing as well, given that I expected a bigger revelation that didn’t come true. Anyway, I still recommend this to anyone who wants to read a well-crafted southern story about an unforgettable summer, two brothers and the young girl who suddenly changed their lives.
I received a copy of this e-book in exchange for an honest review.