River Rising

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Overview

Pilotville, Louisiana, 1927, isolated on the Mississippi. Reverend Hale Poser, a stranger looking for his roots. Hannah Lamont, new baby to James and Rosa, a breech birth if not for the strangest touch upon her mother's belly. She's her parents sweet joy until, suddenly, she vanishes. Who but this stranger could have done this terrible thing? Who but this man of miracles could see that it's undone?

In the swamp beyond the Tupelo and Cypress a ...
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River Rising

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Overview

Pilotville, Louisiana, 1927, isolated on the Mississippi. Reverend Hale Poser, a stranger looking for his roots. Hannah Lamont, new baby to James and Rosa, a breech birth if not for the strangest touch upon her mother's belly. She's her parents sweet joy until, suddenly, she vanishes. Who but this stranger could have done this terrible thing? Who but this man of miracles could see that it's undone?

In the swamp beyond the Tupelo and Cypress a lingering evil sleeps no longer. It will rain down on Piltoville; it will rise up like a River, and nothing but a miracle can stop this awful flood.

"A riveting mystery... Dickson deftly explores a variety of complex issues, such as racial equality and religious faith – all with a tasteful touch of magical realism. A vivid setting and well drawn characters coalesce in this subtle yet captivating mystery." (Kirkus Discoveries)

"River rising is a great atmospheric historical thriller that grips the audience..." (Midwest Book Review)
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Editorial Reviews

Bob Pike
"This book is Louisiana's To Kill A Mockingbird... It will make you ask questions that need to be asked. And the reader will look for answers that are there to be found. You will see the worst side of man--and man at his best, seeking the God of the universe. Once you pick up this book you won't want to put it down until you've turned the last page"
CSP, CPAE-Speakers Hall of Fame, Armchair Interviews.com
Booklist
In 1927, a mysterious black man named Hale Poser arrives in the little bayou town of Pilotville, seeking clues to his parentage. He's a humble man and takes a menial job with the town's black infirmary. But he soon demonstrates the gift of laying on of hands and the subtler gift of peacemaking. His gentle powers will be needed to overcome Pilotville's curse of racism. And more than racism: how it is that black babies are sometimes stolen at birth? Dickson's thriller is really an allegory, with Hale as Christ, but it's a subtle allegory, with an easy mastery of Cajun ways and a nice gothic flair.
Bookwire Reviews
"River Rising is a richly imagined and at times lyrically written novel... Author Athol Dickson's characters are artfully constructed and glow with life. Best of all, Dickson is not afraid to take risks with the narrative. In particular, Poser's starved and feverish journey through the swamp is a pivotal moment in the novel, forming a kind of spiritual vision quest that transitions Poser from the world he knows to a secret one whose existence he could hardly have guessed."
Christian Fiction Review
"[River Rising] may be the best [novel] of the year already.... Fall into this beautiful and heart-rending story... It took me in many directions I did not expect, and led me to a place where I was ready to give the glory to God for a wonderful story that reflects His truth.... Highly Recommended."
Christian Library Journal
"This gripping historical fiction novel is a hard-to-put-down look into the bayous of Louisiana and the secrets it harbors. River Rising is full of twists and turns that keep the reader guessing until the end what the outcome of Hale’s journey to Pilotville will be. ...an intriguing page-turner... Athol Dickson [is] an author not to be missed."
Cindy Crosby
"A must-read for the new year.... What Dickson brings so beautifully to his narrative is a focused sense of place, in this case, Louisiana's flooded swampland, the Mississippi River and its inhabitants....Readers who enjoy a good tale of suspense wrapped around thoughtful faith themes will appreciate this excellent novel from Dickson."
Faithful Reader.com
Jana Riess
"It's rare for a historical novel to truly invite us into the past, and rarer still for it to make us question our own present. Athol Dickson's lyrical novel River Rising does both while offering a profound Christian message about faith, redemption and brotherly love.

Set in Louisiana in 1927, with prose so rich you can feel the steam rising from the ground in the fictional riverside community of Pilotville, this novel opens in a conventional way, when a mysterious stranger arrives in town. Hale Poser performs miracles, challenges villagers' perceptions, and generally shakes things up....

One of the most fascinating aspects of the novel is the way that Dickson deftly weaves real-life events with fiction, causing readers to imagine those historical events in fresh ways.... he creates a world so immediate and real that he helps us understand how such history might have unfolded. What's more, he does so in a story that is rife with evocative biblical imagery, with Hale as a Moses figure and the flood a stunning recapitulation of the plagues of Egypt. However, Dickson refrains from preaching at the reader, allowing the story to speak, ever so hauntingly, for itself."
ExploreFaith.org

Midwest Book Review
"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."
Phillip Tomasso III
"Powerful and suspenseful, this fiction thriller is an unexpected page-turner. The characters are well drawn. The setting is vibrant and vivid. The story is compelling and concise. Athol Dickson has created a timeless tale...."
In the Library Review
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"['River Rising' is] a story of suspense and religious allegory... a Christian-themed action-adventure that, because of Dickson's smooth writing skills, is both earnest and energetic."
Publishers Weekly
When, at the beginning of this novel, Rev. Hale Poser arrives in Pilotsville, La., the story appears to unfold in an all-too-familiar way: a stranger of humble means comes to a Southern town, scandalizes it and, in true Christ-figure fashion, changes the lives of everyone there forever. However, a series of twists and surprises quickly pull the narrative into unexpected territory that is at once entrancing and painful to behold. Set during the great Mississippi flood of 1927, Dickson's novel does not simply explore racism, faith and poverty, but somehow inhabits them, mostly by way of Hale's journey. Told from the perspective of several characters, Hale's first days in Pilotsville-where readers quickly learn he has come to find the parents he never knew-reveal something close to utopia: black and white residents working and living together congenially, and almost equally, while the beneficent white man who essentially owns the town keeps all the ugliness of Southern racism at bay. Sadly, nothing is quite as it seems, and the miracles, revelations and moments of despair that make up the bulk of this book lead its characters and readers to some disturbing conclusions. Atmospheric, well-paced and powerfully imagined, this novel is reminiscent of Octavia Butler's Kindred and deserves similar readership and respect. (Jan.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780764201622
  • Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/28/2006
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Athol Dickson is a novelist, teacher, and independent publisher.His novels transcend description with a literary style that blends magical realism, suspense, and a strong sense of spirituality. Critics have favorably compared his work to such diverse authors as Octavia Butler (Publisher's Weekly), Hermann Hesse (The New York Journal of Books) and Flannery O'Connor (New York Journal of Books) and Flannery O'Connor (The New York Times). One of his novels, River Rising, is an Audie Award winner, and three have won Christy Awards. His most recent novel, The Opposite Of Art, is a mystical story about pride, passion, and murder as a spiritual pursuit. Athol’s next is a “Christy award collection” of his four best selling novels, updated and with new forewords. Each of the novels was a Christy finalist. Athol lives with his wife in southern California.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 28, 2012

    Disclaimer: This review is based on the 2012 version of River R

    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.

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  • Posted August 6, 2012

    Athol Dickson's River Rising was the best summer read out of all

    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.

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  • Posted January 25, 2011

    A modern-day classic

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 2005

    A story that will remain with you long after you're done

    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.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    great atmospheric historical thriller

    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 Klausner

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