Christopher Rice’s The Vines: A Dark Entanglement

Cover of The Vines

The Vines was actually the first book by Christopher Rice that I have read, and while I have to admit I wasn’t completely blown away, there were quite a few things in this book to like.

The gist of the story is that a well-off, but less than attractive woman who is old Louisiana money, catches her husband cheating on her on her birthday. Distraught, she retreats to the outdoor gazebo, smashes a wine glass and prepares to slit her wrists. However, her first drop of blood awakens something in the soil, and it displays itself as a vine that grows up around her wrist, sucking the blood from her veins. The vine then proceeds to take care of her cheating husband problem. The woman starts to view it as an ally, a force to wield, but there are complications and the mysterious, deadly force cannot be contained.

This is most definitely a horror story, but there are also some elements of dark fantasy, or dark fairy tale, here. Not only is the presence unleashed a terrifying conceptualization of nature gone wild, but the back story of violence and mystery adds substantially to the darkness of the book. In my mind, it was never daylight in this story.

NOTE: SPOILERS AHEAD

So, here is what I liked about the book:

  • I liked that Rice went with a very different kind of menace in this book. It was an interesting combination of earth magic, blood curse, and actually there were some interesting old school sci-fi influences (think Little Shop of Horrors). And, I would also say that it was heavily influenced by the weird. We never really find out what the force is behind the vines – there are people identified as being in control of the situation (the old land owner) but it seems that he really wasn’t in complete control. He was more of a front man for whatever was working behind the scenes, whatever craved blood and revenge.
  • I also liked the character of Blake. I wasn’t prepared for him to end up being the hero of the story, and I love that this is an non-traditional hero. Blake’s scarring from the tragedy inflicted upon him because of his sexuality led him to become someone who was ready for the challenges that he had to face, and who may be able to control the forces for some time into the future. He is an interesting protector figure, and I would say one of the most interesting characters that I’ve encountered in some time.

If you are a fan of dark fantasy and the weird, then you will probably enjoy this book. I know that I will definitely be picking up more of Christopher Rice in the future.

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