We Will Rise by Tim Waggoner
A Book Review by Tony Jones
The dead want payback and return to haunt their former loved ones
Tim Waggoner is undoubtedly one of the busiest authors in the horror business, writing well over twenty novels since appearing on the scene two decades ago. Those I have read include They Kill (2019), The Forever House (2020) and The Mouth of the Dark (2018) all of which have eye-catching plots but are relatively restrained in comparison to the supernatural madness featured in his latest offering, We Will Rise. This was a particularly intense novel and I sped through the unrelenting 294 pages in no time whatsoever.
We Will Rise is presented in the same way as an anthology film with an ensemble cast of characters, who have their own unique narratives which are nicely developed particularly in the first half, which eventually converge together as crisis kicks in. Not everybody featured are good guys and I enjoyed the fact that it wasn’t initially clear which side of the fence each of the protagonists sat on, with some turning into real evil, nasty pieces of work. If you like your violence bloody and creative, there is much to savour here – though if this is not your cup of tea then you better avoid – including necrophilia, young children exploding like balloons, a woman ripping her own eyes out, and a dead baby ghost trying to force itself into the throat of its mother to re-enter the womb! It’s wild stuff and the characters truly go through the wringer.
The sheer level of visual creativeness of We Will Rise was outstanding and I didn’t think Waggoner would be able to pull it off for nearly 300-pages, but somehow he kept it going. There were several genuinely nasty creations, but my personal favourite was probably a giant tooth monster which also had tiny real people implanted into it. What made them more unpleasant was the fact that the entities had personal connections with those they were both hunting and haunting.
We Will Rise starts fast and quickly turns into a high-speed train wreck which is set over a noticeably short space of time in the small town of Echo Hill, Ohio. Eddie Herrera is having a shower and has a flashback to when his young brother drowns on a fishing trip with his father decades earlier. Whilst bathing, he sees his brother’s ghost who pulls him into the water and drowns him, telling him with great glee that his death is long overdue. Eddie’s wife returns home from work to find him curled up on the floor dead. And so, the hauntings begin.
After Eddie’s death sets the scene, the novel then moves into the aforementioned anthology mode and introduces Mari, Faizan, Oliver, Karen, Jerome and Julie a chapter at a time. Obviously, each of the six characters has their own personal demons, problems and lives and the supernatural occurrence which is at the centre of the book impacts them all in unique ways. Having six distinct characters with their own back stories was a smart way of keeping the story fresh and I enjoyed seeing how they interconnected together. Waggoner also spent time building interesting back stories, such as a transgender boy (Oliver) and a woman recovering from a miscarriage (Mari).
The core plot is an ingenious idea: all across the world people are being haunted by somebody from their past. The novel focuses entirely on Echo Hill and as readers, we’re not privy to the bigger picture except through random snatches of television. What starts as isolated incidents begins to spread and impact more people. I loved the way this supernatural ripple was portrayed through the destruction of this small town and how the internal demons varied. For example, Faizan is haunted by his dead father who saw him as a failure, whilst paramedic Julie is persecuted by all the people she failed to save, whether it was her fault or not. This was genuine, in-your-face, supernatural horror and if you enjoy no-holds-barred fiction which ramps up the action, then this is a great read. Unrelenting action does not mean the novel lacks suspense or creepiness, with the dead baby and sleazeball serial killer-obsessed librarian hard to beat in those stakes. The fact that the entities liked to torment before killing added another unsettling dimension, as the cross section of survivors were hunted by their very own demons who did not want to necessarily kill them straight off the bat.
The six characters are initially presented as interconnected short stories and the blending was first rate as they did their best to hold onto their sanity. Six perspectives were a nice number which helped portray the apocalypse through a wide lens. This was visceral stuff and a highly entertaining fast paced read which was a bleak exploration of the human psyche.
– Tony Jones