The Risen

The Risen

4.5 2
by Ron Rash

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New York Times bestselling author Ron Rash demonstrates his superb narrative skills in this suspenseful and evocative tale of two brothers whose lives are altered irrevocably by the events of one long-ago summer—and one bewitching young woman—and the secrets that could destroy their lives.

While swimming in a secluded creek on a hot Sunday in


New York Times bestselling author Ron Rash demonstrates his superb narrative skills in this suspenseful and evocative tale of two brothers whose lives are altered irrevocably by the events of one long-ago summer—and one bewitching young woman—and the secrets that could destroy their lives.

While 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?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Ligeia’s disappearance, and the events around it, were never resolved for Eugene, and he is stunned to find her ageless face suddenly appear on the cover of his local newspaper. Now a struggling alcoholic, Eugene was 16 when he first saw Ligeia, swimming nude, during the summer of 1969. Taken by her seemingly otherworldly presence, Eugene and his older brother, Bill, fell under her spell and were pulled into that adventurous summer of free love and experimentation. After Eugene succumbs to her enchantments and a brief romance ensues, a rift develops between the two brothers, who view the cultural changes sweeping America in drastically different ways. Contrary to what the brothers have always believed, Ligeia didn’t just leave town that summer. With her sudden resurrection, the most disturbing questions around what actually happened all those years before sets Eugene out to get the truth from his estranged brother, Bill, now a successful surgeon in the small North Carolina town where they grew up. Rash (Serena) invites readers into the lush Carolina hinterland where blissful innocence and larger cultural currents clash with deep consequences for malleable Eugene. Beyond the propulsion of Rash’s thrilling whodunit plot is his characteristically excellent prose. (Sept.)
Rash pulls the reader in with an element of suspense injected into his astute exploration of the clash of cultures, past and present.
Library Journal
★ 09/15/2016
A disturbing discovery along a creek bed in North Carolina pulls Eugene Matney back into the summer of 1969, when Eugene and his older brother, Bill, fell for a "wild child" from Florida. Eugene was especially mesmerized by this exotic hippie visitor named Ligeia, who introduced the shy teen to sex, drugs, and rock and roll. But by the end of summer, Ligeia suddenly disappeared and Eugene had discovered that alcohol was the one true love of his life. Meanwhile, dutiful brother Bill becomes a successful surgeon, following in the footsteps of their tyrannical grandfather. How will the gruesome find in Panther Creek upend their lives? What secrets have been long buried? Rash has sometimes been called a Southern gothic writer, and his nod to Poe in naming his troubled character Ligeia might point that way, along with the portrayal of Nebo, Grandfather Matney's mute, sinister assistant. Though his stories, set mostly in the Southern mountains, have a strong sense of place, his beautifully written fiction transcends any formula. VERDICT Rash is not only a master of suspense, he's one of our finest writers. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 3/21/16.]—Leslie Patterson, Rehoboth, MA
Kirkus Reviews
The latest from prolific poet and fiction writer Rash, a 2009 PEN/Faulkner Award finalist for Serena, provides a damaged man's look back at a long-ago and haunted past.It's 1969. Eugene and his older brother, Bill, who live with their mother and their tyrannical town-doctor grandfather in a small town in western North Carolina, are spending a summer afternoon at their remote fishing hole when they encounter a sylphlike young woman—a "mermaid," she says—who introduces herself as Ligeia. She's from Florida and has been banished to this backwater after a misadventure in a commune, to live with a preacher uncle and his family. She is a miracle of exoticism, an in-this-place unprecedented representative of hippiedom, and the boys immediately sign up for training in free love. The more ambitious and dutiful brother, Bill, already well on his way to the medical career his grandfather has ordained for him, quickly pulls back, but his more impulsive younger brother, smitten, falls into an extended summer romance with Ligeia (to whom he supplies stolen sample packs of the downers she prefers) and embarks in earnest on what will be a more enduring relationship with drink. Flash-forward 46 years: Bill has fulfilled his destiny and become a celebrated surgeon, while Eugene, who once dabbled promisingly with writing, has given it up and devoted himself full-time to alcohol and self-loathing. He lives in exile from his family, having scarred and nearly killed his daughter in a booze-caused crash, and he and Bill are only rarely and tensely in touch. But when a skeleton is found, spilled into the creek after decades shrouded in a blue tarp, the two brothers are forced to wrangle again with each other and with the events of that fateful summer. The novel hits its share of false or clumsy notes, but it's not ruined by them thanks to Rash's sure evocation of the time and place and the complexity and poignancy of his portrait of his protagonist.
Raleigh News & Observer
“The Risen is an important novel - and an intriguing one - from one of our master storytellers. In its pages, the past rises up, haunting and chiding, demanding answers of us all.”

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
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Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.20(d)

Meet the Author

Ron Rash is the author of the 2009 PEN/Faulkner finalist and New York Times bestseller Serena and Above the Waterfall, in addition to four prizewinning novels, including The Cove, One Foot in Eden, Saints at the River, and The World Made Straight; four collections of poems; and six collections of stories, among them Burning Bright, which won the 2010 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, and Chemistry and Other Stories, which was a finalist for the 2007 PEN/Faulkner Award. Twice the recipient of the O. Henry Prize, he teaches at Western Carolina University.

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The Risen 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous 3 days ago
For a semi-short story, this book really packs a punch. The writing is devine, the characters relatable, and the twists & turns are brilliant
SheTreadsSoftly 22 days ago
The Risen by Ron Rash is a highly recommended novel about a damaged man, his successful brother, and events that happened in 1969. Bill and Eugene are brothers. The young men and their mother live in a small North Carolina town with their tyrannical grandfather, the town doctor. Their grandfather rules all of them, and the town to some extent, with threats and an iron hand. Their grandfather has his eyes set on Bill becoming a doctor and Bill is pursuing that goal. Eugene, though, is viewed as more worthless due to his artistic sensibilities and writing, which are subversively encouraged by their mother. In the summer of 1969 Eugene, 16, and his older brother, Bill, 20, are fishing when Eugene sees Ligeia skinny dipping. Ligeia, 17, has been sent to her uncle's house by her parents in Daytona Beach in an effort to discourage her activities with the counterculture movement and drugs. Eugene falls for the free-spirited rebellious young woman and is also introduced to alcohol, drugs, and sex at this time, while distancing himself from his more dutiful brother. He also continues to steal sample packets of drugs from his grandfather's practice for Ligeia. Forty-six years later, Eugene is a washed-up alcoholic who has lost everything and is slowly drinking himself to death. He nearly killed his daughter while driving drunk. She is estranged from him and his wife is gone. He is shocked to see that a body discovered has been discovered to be Ligeia. Bill had told Eugene that he had put her on a bus in 1969. Obviously something else happened and Eugene is determined to discover exactly what happened to her and the part Bill played in it. Excellent prose highlights this novel along with exceptional character development. Rash sets the time and place with expertise and captures the age-old sibling rivalry between the brothers. It is also a poignant moment when 16 year-old Eugene is first introduced to alcohol by his brother at Ligeia's suggestion, and immediately enjoys it, portending his future alcoholism. For those who are familiar with the novel, there are recurring references to Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward, Angel. Disclosure: My advanced reading copy was courtesy of the publisher for review purposes.