I really enjoy reading about the paranormal and supernatural. I like reading about things that can’t happen in real life because I see these kinds of books as an escape from reality. I also enjoy horror movies for this same reason, because I know that they are not real. When I read about The Vines by Christopher Rice, I thought I had struck gold. The idea of mixing the paranormal with horror sounded like something right up my alley. Unfortunately, The Vines turned out to be a run-of-the-mill horror story lacking a substantial plot and harboring one-dimensional characters.
The Vines takes place in modern-day Louisiana – and the author does not let the reader forget it. The plot centers on Spring House, an old plantation house with a dark past in the form of mystical man-killing vines. Don’t let the plot fool you, this is not an ode to Little Shop of Horrors. These vines and blossoms don’t sing; they just feed off a vengeful human’s blood. Once ingesting this blood, the vines then carry out the donor’s darkest desires. When the rich, white Caitlin Chaisson is wronged by her husband, the long dead vines come back to life to wreak havoc on plantation’s soil once again.
Where this novel fell short were the constant racial reminders and assumptions of inequality. Caitlin, while born rich, lost both her parents in a car accident and was in a loveless marriage. Her groundskeeper’s daughter Nova was very adamant on reminding everyone that her daddy shouldn’t have to take care of some rich white woman. Aside from the constant pull of the racism card, the whole plot fell short because I just could not find myself caring about the characters. Every character fit some sort of stereotype, and every plot device seemed to come straight out of a B-list horror movie. The author tried to give some back story with flashes to the Civil War, where the whole blood-thirsty vines ordeal started, but it just didn’t work. I almost felt like this should be seen as the Snakes on a Plane of books – it seems to be serious, but really it’s a satire on its genre route.
Basically, I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone. While it was grammatically well written, and the author used a good balance of description and dialogue, I just could not get into the book, let alone take it seriously. If you’re looking for a good paranormal horror story, my advice is to look elsewhere.
Sarah Emily Lelonek has a BA in English Literature from Kent State University. She is currently enrolled at Tiffin University in their Master’s of Education program. She enjoys traveling and gaming while on breaks from working on her novel.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by 47North. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.