Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Density of Souls, by Christopher Rice Now Newly Released, Undoubtedly Will Continue as Timeless Best Seller!

Stephen felt a hand brush his shoulder.
"Fear cannot touch me..." a voice
whispered, speaking to Stephen from
across eight years... They held each
other for the rest of the vigil. The
news cameras craned over them and
the surrounding mourners saw them
as a girl and a boy grieving for the
murdered men. Meredith and Stephen
also cried for four kids on bicycles,
illuminated in their memory by a
slanting run, and now gone forever.
Beneath a sky thickening with summer thunderheads, they rode their bikes to Lafayette Cemetery, where the dead are buried above ground. The four of them flew down Chestnut Street, their wheels bouncing over flagstones wrenched by the gnarled roots of oak trees. They passed high wrought-iron fences beyond which Doric and Ionic columns held up the facades of Greek Revival mansions, their screen porches shrouded in tangles of vines.

The canopy of oak branches began at Jackson Avenue, by the bell tower of Bishop Polk Cathedral, which rose thirty feet into the air, its ceramic tiled portico crowned by  a blinding gold-plated crucifix. The neighborhood, with its sprawl of raised Creole cottages and classical 
mansions, stretched for blocks. Their ride to the cemetery o Washington Avenue took them through sunlight dappled across the uneven asphalt of the floor-rimmed streets of the Garden District. The greatest fear of their thirteenth summer was the appearance of cars. 
      Meredith would never be able to forget the day the gate was locked and the rain fell...

A Density of Souls

During their ritual afternoon game of hide-and-seek, the century-old tomb of the fireman of the Chalmette Station was always Base...
When the rain began, Meredith burrowed between the back walls of two mausoleums. Stone angels kept their backs to her as she crouched, her sneakers wedged on the platforms of the opposite tombs, craning her neck to catch a glimpse of Stephen's slender back and shock of blond hair as he stared down at his father's name.

A sheet of raindrops hit the roofs of the tombs, and a thick mist gradually filled the alley. When the first roll of thunder crackled, Meredith saw Stephen suddenly life his head. His blue eyes widened and he screamed.
He was lost to Meredith with a quick pump of his skinny, pale legs. Greg barreled through the mud in pursuit. Meredith pressed herself against on of the walls as she heard Stephen let out a defeated wail. Thunder and rain muffled the sound of what had to be two bodies slamming into the mud...
Meredith, Greg, and Brandon had pieced together the story of Stephen's father from snippets of overheard conversation and cryptic remarks from their own parents. The three of them sometimes talked about it when Stephen was out of earshot, but whenever he mentioned Jeremy Conlin, they all fell into an awkward, frightened silence...
"It's a poem...It's about being afraid," Stephen went on, his voice rising now over the cacophony of rain and wind. Meredith though Jeremy Conlin must have known a lot about not being afraid. It took a lot of guts to shoot yourself.
Stephen clasped Meredith's hand in his own thin fingers. 

One by one, the four children joined hands, Brandon stomping his foot in disgust before he did. and Stephen began:

Fear cannot touch me...
It can only taunt me, it cannot take me,
just tell me where to go...
I can either follow, or stay in my bed...
I can hold on to the things that I know...

The dead stay dead, they cannot walk.
The shadows are darkness...

"It's not that hard," Stephen finally said. "Say it with me this time."
Their voices followed Stephen's--Meredith's and then Greg's and finally Brandon...

She walked toward the cast-iron gate. The caretaker unlocked the gate and it opened on its hinges with a metallic shine, stirring the three boys from beneath the still-dripping oak. The felt foolish for having been afraid of the rain the in the first place...
She knew that Stephen would pay for his whispers, his ability to draw from the sacred strength of his dead father's poetry...

The panic she had felt only seconds earlier turned
from an icy gnaw inside her chest to a hot rush
like the onset of nausea. Her first thought was that
one of them had been hurt. But some instinct
wouldn't allow her to believe this, so she remained
unable to call out to them. She watched Greg
lower his face over Stephen and watched Stephen's
blue eyes widen as the tip of Greg's nose grazed his.
Greg and Stephen locked eyes with an intensity that
told Meredith they were part of a world she had been
denied access to. It had to be a world known only to

I've spent quite a bit of time on the Prologue which took place in 1992. It's only a few pages, but it holds the key to the entire story in my opinion.

Four neighborhood children, 3 boys and 1 girl,had grown up in the same area of Louisiana and become friends. At least they often played together, especially riding their bikes to the Lafayette cemetery during summer months...

When the children visited the cemetery on that particular day when it rained, if brought about, perhaps, the end of their childhood and the beginning of the future that was to come... Meredith had seen something that should have been a private time between two of the boys. Perhaps the other boy had seen also, because when Stephen seemed to take authority and control to get them out of the rain, it was not well received by the fourth friend...
Death, tragedy--whatever you wanted
to call it--gave human beings the
opportunity to absorb the world's true
nature. Many people ignored this
chance. Most people opted for denial
and despair. Stephen had chosen
neither, and in a subtle way he was
asking Meredith to do the same.
Meredith vowed to herself that she
would. They talked for hours, the only
voices among the city of the dead.
Meredith pivoted away from the arguing boys. She looked up at the bifurcated edges of the clouds as they passed over the skyline of stone Virgin Marys and angels. Were the clouds really as close to the earth as they seemed?
Stephen heard her first sob.
Furious, Brandon hurled his bike into a nearby mausoleum. He sank to his knees next to it and then glared at the other three as if to challenge them to contradict his anger. But Stephen had already had one arm around Meredith's shoulder. She went rigid beneath it, ashamed.
"Omigod, Mer!" Brandon sneered.
Lightning struck again, this time closer.
"Get away from the gate. It's metal!" Greg barked.
"Fuck! Brandon yelled before rising to his feet and charging the padlocked fence. He landed against it with both hands, grabbing the tines and shaking them.
"Come on." Stephen's voice was low with authority. Meredith raised her head. It took her a moment to realize he was walking her back into the cemetery to where the dripping branches of the oak tree over the fireman's tomb were rocking in the wind, driven by torrents of rain whipping through the alleyways.
"Where are you going?" Greg yelled.
"Come on..." Stephen called back over his shoulder.
Stephen propped Meredith against the oak's trunk. Greg approached them tentatively, shooting glances over his shoulder at Brandoon, who lagged farther behind, his fists shoved into his pockets. The rain had soaked through Brandon's T-shirt, revealing hints of muscles developing across his shoulders. Meredith saw how Greg's arms looked broader beneath the soaked sleeves of his polo shirt.
When Meredith looked at Stephen, she realized how pale his skin was, how deliately his limbs connected to his frame...

It was when they began Cannon School that the four realized it was going to be different... Greg and Brandon were going out for football and were clearly the pair to watch as new players... Stephen had always been close friends with Meredith, so he was waiting for her at her locker...

Meredith was already uptight because she had fought with her mother and wore a halter top the first day, only to soon realize she was totally wrong in wearing it... Then she saw Greg and Brandon. Meredith knew immediately that they had bonded tightly during the football training.

But the terrible thing that faced her was that she knew she would have to choose between her friends... She chose to walk on to Greg and Brandon and ignore Stephen... 
Something dark uncurled inside of him...
On the first day of being in a new school, Stephen found himself totally alone, without his friends... Worse, Greg and Brandon, within the football crowd, began to bully Stephen and refer to him as a fag. But what was worse, the one with whom he'd really been close had deserted him. Meredith had chosen to become part of the in-crowd!

It was in English class that his former friends declared the first battle of war--placing a paper with F A G on his book bag which he'd slung on after class and without his knowing it.

After he realized it, he'd ran and hid in the drama class storage room where the teacher found him and escorted him to the nurse's office.  But she'd made one mistake that day, when she'd thought that Jeff, another student who was just heading to class was participating in the ridicule of Stephen... But, in fact, his feelings were just the opposite...

That was the day that Stephen stole a picture from the hallway of a beautiful former student... He was going to take it home and began a dream fantasy with him... 

I admired him when he went into the drama group and began gaining real support from the instructor, being selected to sing the tenor part in The Mikado.
Fortunately, Stephen had a good relationship with his mother and she even took him on a trip to Rome after he'd been in the play... She also bought him a Jeep...

It was about that time also that Meredith started stealing and drinking heavily and started a journal of what terrible changes had been made and were happening. But she still didn't spend time with Stephen...

And the bullying became even worse when Stephen's new Jeep was totally trashed! Monica, his mother, did exactly what she should have done--I loved it!

In fact, even though the situation gets much worse as the novel continues, I did love the story. As we see the violence increasing within teenagers in the present, this book certainly spotlights the need for more and more action by parents, teachers and, of course, the authorities, to stop what is happening before it reaches the point that fictionally does happen in A Density of Souls... 

If you are a fan of Christopher Rice and missed reading his Debut, do take the time to get this one, with the additional material. The novel is suspenseful, but, more, it shares the results of children and young adults lives as they try to fit into the changing environmental, cultural and social issues we all face... At times, the emotions are raw and edgy, the reality hard to face... That's why it's such an important book, in my opinion...

Fear Cannot Touch Me...
It Cannot Take me...

You will know if this is a must-read for you. As a suspense novel, I highly recommend it for those who don't mind a dark plot to go with the suspense!
A Fantastic Debut! From a now New York Times Bestselling Author...


 By the age of 30, Christopher Rice had published four New York Times bestselling thrillers, received a Lambda Literary Award and been declared one of People Magazine's Sexiest Men Alive. His first work of supernatural suspense, THE HEAVENS RISE, was a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award. His debut, A DENSITY OF SOULS, was published when the author was just 22 years old. A controversial and overnight bestseller, it was greeted with a landslide of media attention, much of it devoted to the fact that Christopher is the son of legendary vampire chronicler, Anne Rice. Bestselling thriller writer (and Jack Reacher creator) Lee Child hailed Christopher's novel LIGHT BEFORE DAY as a "book of the year". Together with his best friend, New York Times bestselling novelist Eric Shaw Quinn, Christopher launched his own Internet radio show. THE DINNER PARTY SHOW WITH CHRISTOPHER RICE & ERIC SHAW QUINN is always playing at TheDinnerPartyShow.com and every episode is available for free download from the site's show archive or on iTunes.

47 North, the science fiction, fantasy and horror imprint of Amazon Publishing, recently published Rice's supernatural thriller, THE VINES. Rice's first erotic romance, THE FLAME: A Desire Exchange Novella, was recently published as part of the 1,001 DARK NIGHTSseries. Thomas & Mercer, the crime fiction imprint of Amazon Publishing released new editions of his previous bestsellers A DENSITY OF SOULS, THE SNOW GARDEN and LIGHT BEFORE DAY on December 9th, 2014.

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