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Posted November 28, 2012
Disclaimer: This review is based on the 2012 version of River Rising.
Based around the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 comes a riveting story by Athol Dickson, River Rising, a mighty novel penned, displaying the true disparity between true racial equality and religious faith. It’s a time when Negro, n—–, or a colored man were terms still used for African-Americans.
Reverend Hale Poser returns to Pilotville, Louisiana, in his later years to find his roots. He’d been raised in an orphanage farther north for his childhood years. He’s a black man with distinctive robin egg’s shade of blue eyes, making him stand out amongst the people of his color. Though the Civil War has long ago set slaves free, and this town is tolerant between the races, its segregated when they worship–the whites gather in a white church and the blacks in a black church–a phenomenon that Reverend Poser would like to see changed. True unity between Christian believers.
The basic story opens when James and Rosa Lamont give birth to their daughter Hannah after Reverend Poser prays over Rosa during her difficult, extremely painful labor. A miracle is claimed when the baby is born peacefully. Yet days later Hannah is missing. The town’s people, black and white, unite in searching for the baby, but after five days they cease. Though the area around Pilotville is swampy and dangerous, two men continue searching, James Lamont and Reverend Hale Poser, though they are cautioned to cease their search. Who has taken Hannah? In fact, who has taken the many children missing over the years?
The unusual physical characteristics of the author’s characters take on a life of their own, and are used to later qualify certain actions throughout the book. The character of Hale Poser is the one who catches my heart with his simple faith and transparent openness. He’s adamant that he does not perform miracles, but that it’s the Lord who does, giving the glory to the Lord. But when circumstances change horrifically, and Hale feels he’s lost his faith and ability to perform miracles, will he succumb and give up on God? The brutality is horrendous and despicable.
Two other characters that catch my attention, because of their power and authority over the people of Pilotville, are Papa DeGroot and Wallace Pogue. Both men are highly respected in the town. How that power is used is part of the mystery of the story line. Something seems amiss surrounding the circumstances of the missing baby, yet these two men exert their authority discreetly differently–one for good and one for evil. It’s the influence of both that reeks havoc in the town.
The diction of the people is typical bayou language for the time era, making the story credible and interesting. The author’s use of descriptive language brings the world alive, creating a setting that is vividly ‘seen.’ I was thoroughly captivated with the historical aspects, the mysterious plots, and the deep characterization. One cannot read this book without it touching your heart in some way. The issues have always torn me apart.
My only concern is how God is explained to have come down in the person of Jesus. He was Jewish, and the color of His skin should not make a difference to any of the races.
This book was provided by the Susan Sleeman of The Suspense Zone in exchange for my honest review. No monetary compensation was received.
Posted August 6, 2012
Athol Dickson's River Rising was the best summer read out of all the books I read. It's said to be Louisiana's To Kill a Mockingbird, and I believe it after reading it. Set in Louisiana in 1927, it's a novel that takes you back to slavery in a way you never anticipate. Reverend Hale Poser is the main character. He seems to rise out of the mist looking for his roots. Reared in an orphanage, he's searching for his past. When a child goes missing, he refuses to give up the search though others say it's no use. With nothing more than an old, leaky pirogue, he continues the search alone through the Louisiana swamp and bayous. This is a book I'm glad I didn't miss. If you haven't read it, check it out. You won't be sorry. I loved it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 25, 2011
Athol Dickson's River Rising is a haunting and redemptive novel that is fast becoming a modern-day classic. River Rising won the 2006 Christy Award for suspense novels.
I've read River Rising twice, and Dickson's vivid scenes have stayed with me, even years after my first reading. Dickson's unique voice lends to his rich storytelling; his symbolic narratives ring with truth and beauty; and his messages prompt a stirring and ache in the soul.
In a long-forgotten attic, Reverend Hale Poser stumbles across a clue to his missing family tree. Armed with this new information, he returns to his roots in a small village in the Louisiana swamp. He takes a job as a janitor at the local infirmary and is soon deemed a miracle worker after helping with the birth of a little girl. But when she disappears without a trace, Hale is thrust into a dark and evil conspiracy. His search for the missing baby leads him into the expansive bayous and to a place that time has forgotten.
Dickson excels at allegorical storytelling, and River Rising's spiritual themes include pride's deceptive nature, racism, the nature of miracles, and Christ's humility.
Posted December 23, 2005
In 1927, Reverend Hale Poser, raised in an orphanage in New Orleans, returns to his birthplace, Pilotville, Louisiana, in seeking information about his past. When Hannah Lamont, newborn daughter of Rosa and James is kidnapped from the Pilotville Negro Infirmary he enters the desperate search. What he finds in the backwaters of the Mississippi is an evil from the past, long thought dead. His once rock solid faith is destroyed by what he finds and the horrors of what he's forced to endure. Released from one nightmare, he enters another when he's arrested for the kidnapping of baby Hannah. But during a devastating flood, he finds peace and hope and seeks to give freedom to those he left behind. Athol Dickson weaves a wonderful tale of heartache and hope, bondage and freedom, racism and equality in River Rising. Through intimate detail, he brings to life the swamps and river country of 1927 Louisiana. This story will stick in my mind for a long time to come.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 9, 2008
In 1927 Reverend Hale Poser arrives in Pilotville, a stilt town in the Louisiana bayous, seeking his roots as the New Orleans orphan found evidence that his parents came from this remote swamp town. Strangers are not readily accepted as the integrated townsfolk cannot believe anyone from the outside would voluntarily come here unless they carry a hidden agenda. Still Hale obtains work as a janitor at the Pilotville Negro Infirmary and attends the African Assembly of God Church, but no one trusts him even with his stating he seeks his origins are here. --- Rumors spread that he is a miracle worker when he assists on an extremely difficult birthing. When a newborn black is kidnapped, racial harmony disintegrates. Hale is upset with the abduction of the innocent, which seems similar to his history. He works as hard as anyone trying to rescue the child, but soon discovers that Pilotville has had many kidnappings of infants with a cover-up that goes beyond the encroaching flooding Mississippi. He keeps digging though he knows he could vanish as alligator bait in the nearby slough. --- RIVER RISING is a great atmospheric historical thriller that grips the audience from the moment that the reader realizes this is not a backwater save the soul tale, but much more. The varying perspectives provide the audience with a taste of a 1920s isolated small-town living in what appears to be a racially harmonious place, but as differing points of view surface, this proves a facade. The who-done-it and its cover-up add depth to the story line, but it is the caring Hale who serves as the distrusted focus and catalyst of a terrific period piece. --- Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.