The Risen (Ron Rash)

28217819.jpgWhile 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.


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I received a copy of this e-book in exchange for an honest review.


16 thoughts on “The Risen (Ron Rash)

  1. I’ve only read one book by Ron Rash – The Cove. Like you, I loved the writing and felt he gave a great sense of place. From memory, I wasn’t quite so impressed by the characterisation though. But I’ve got a copy of Above the Waterfall and am really looking forward to it – I’ve been meaning to read more of his stuff for ages. This one sounds intriguing too – 1969 really is the “in” year, isn’t it?


  2. I can’t wait to read this one.I stopped mid-review to rush to NetGalley and see ifs its there, but its not:-( I really like the time period. I was enchanted by the 60S after reading The Girls by Emma Cline. I like the sound of this. It sounds pretty interesting.If only the characters were more relatable.


    1. You know which one you should read? Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt. Idk if it’s on netgalley but it’s the same year and I loved it. My review will be up soon ^^

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks. I have seen it on NetGalley though not sure if I will get it because they indicate that US/Canada reviewers are preferred. I will look out for your review though.


  3. Sounds kinda sad. I hate women like this…they only care about themselves and not the people they might damage along the way. 1969 was a turbulent time, and I get how her attitude might have been influenced by the culture, but I still think you can be a free spirit and not destroy people’s lives, you know?
    I already hate Ligeia or whatever her name is, lol!!
    Great thoughtful review!


    1. I hadn’t seen this 😖I hate WordPress! Haha You would totally hate her! I mean she was necessary for the story to develop but ugh… I agree with you, you can be that and still care about others!!


  4. I don’t understand something about the ending: SPOILER ALERT!!!!!: What is the meaning of the cut on the inside of Ligeia’s pubic bone?? Does it point to Bill doing something? Also– was her name really Jane all along, and there is a sort of story-within-story about Eugene giving her the exotic name? Her real name is Jane, but did she even call herself Ligeia? Otherwise what is the significance of him telling the reader at the end that he gave her the exotic name he promised? This is where we also find out she had brown eyes..


    1. Ooops! I believe she called herself that but I’m sorry, I read this a few months ago and I don’t remember that about the cut 😔 It wasn’t a book that impressed me a lot so I guess I don’t really remember much


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