Book Review

Review: Hannibal Rising by Thomas Harris

hannibal rising

Number of pages: 336

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Format: hardcover and paperback

Rating: older adults (violence)

Genre: psychological thriller, mystery, historical fiction


Hannibal Lector, an 8-year-old child, emerges from the Eastern Front with only a chain around his neck. He is a mute and alone in the cold, dark forest. Hannibal is than taken to an orphanage that was formerly his home, Lector Castle. But Hannibal’s uncle, Count Lector, a famous painter finds and takes him to live with his wife, Lady Murasaki, at his chateau in France. Lady Murasaki helps him to heal from his trauma, and as she does so, Hannibal becomes the youngest student to be admitted to a medical school. But nothing can keep his inner demons away as they continue to haunt him in his dreams. As Hannibal is older, he begins to seek revenge on the men who murdered his sister, Mischa when he was a child. Until then Hannibal realizes that his gifts are beyond the academic and becomes death’s prodigy.

My thoughts:

Hannibal Rising is a pre-sequel to the Hannibal series by Thomas Harris. After doing a quick Google search, I found that Harris wrote the book after the series because he was afraid that a movie producer might take credit for it. So to prevent that from happening, he completed a book that he thought would be a huge hit like his other works, Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs. Or so he thought…

There were two problems I had with this book: 1) the story was climatic at first, but then it was slow and monotonous in the middle, and the end became an absolute fail.  Even though it took me 3 days to finish it, I still thought there were parts that Harris could have left out as I really felt he did a slapdash job to the story. 2) I had issues with the characters too, particularly Lady Murasaki, whom I thought was useless when stopping Hannibal from his murderous rampage. Honestly, it was like she wasn’t trying to stop him at all or maybe she wanted Hannibal to have his revenge; it was hard to tell what her true intentions were. The story takes a long time to develop so it really tests your patience. Although I’m still baffled by how young Hannibal couldn’t be captured for his crimes, or else detain him before he went on a killing spree, as the Inspector was right into suspecting him. But the biggest problem I had with this book was that it didn’t tell how Hannibal evolved into the cannibalistic serial killer he became imprisoned for in Red Dragon. Leaving that part out was a huge disappointment for me; it felt like I was tricked into reading this book.  A shame, as the story seemed promising at first, but then it ended up boring.

Overall, this wasn’t Harris’s best work, as Hannibal Rising became a complete turn-off for me. For those who haven’t read the book yet, I really recommend reading Harris’s earlier works like Red Dragon because then you won’t end up discouraged by the author after reading Hannibal Rising.

I give this book 1 lonely hoot out of 5. It is Hannibal Lector after all.


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