THE WITCHING HOUR (Anne Rice)

51y8KkBmGeL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The author is in fine form here. I have read a few books by Ms Rice but this one has made the deepest impression on me to date. This is the tale of the Mayfair witches: from their genesis long ago right up to the present. You won’t find a better witchcraft saga than this. Of course the drama doesn’t end on the last page. Within a crumbling mansion in New Orleans’ Garden District, a woman sits on a rocker, drugged into a vegetative state by her relatives.

A member of the Mayfair family – one of the oldest and most wealthy in New Orleans – she’s perpetually haunted by a man with long brown hair; a man who may or may not be mortal. Meanwhile in San Francisco, Michael Curry has developed a distressing psychic ability that forces him into hiding within the confines of his own home. Having been rescued by Dr. Rowan Mayfair (also of the Mayfair family, but she is unaware of this) he finally makes the decision to journey back to New Orleans, the city of his birth, to rediscover the memories he’s missed for too long. Paths collide when both Curry and Mayfair arrive in New Orleans.

Together they discover the true nature of Deidre and the Mayfair family while they fall in love with each other. But the Mayfair family are a family of witches, cursed for centuries by a being that brought them both wealth and pain, ecstasy and sorrow. This is the being that haunts Deidre as she sits in her rocker, and awaits the arrival of the Doctor from San Francisco who will allow him to enter our world permanently. From their early days the Mayfair’s have had their family history recorded by a secret organization, The Talmasca. The current Talmasca expert on the Mayfairs is Aaron. Aaron confronts Michael after he has spent the night with Rowan, informing him as to what Rowan really is.

Rowan is the most powerful witch in the family. She had been adopted at a young age and has no idea of the legacy or her unique part in it’s gradual unfolding. In reading the file Michael learns that the family has been haunted by a demon named Lasher, since the time of the earliest witch, Suzanne. Lasher attaches himself to one female in each generation of the family, the only exception to this is Julian: the sole warlock in the family. Lasher either controls the witch, or the witch controls him. The witches Lasher controls are so tormented by him that they either go crazy or commit suicide. Lasher helps the family achieve wealth and power, and through inbreeding the family creates more and more powerful witches.

Lasher has a special diabolical interest in her, threatening her happiness with Michael, and possibly leading her to destruction. Rice’s writing was so evocative I could practically feel myself within the crumbling sidewalks and gigantic mansions, despite never having been in that part of the world. Character development is first-rate, with the many relatives of the Mayfair clan being given distinct personalities all their own. There is an ample supply of blood and sex to engross the most salacious and wanton reader as well. Lets just say I’m not complaining about these scenes. On the whole then the novel is tremendous.

It is long but the writing style is excellent and the tale is absorbing enough that I hardly noticed the length. There are many characters in this book and sometimes it is hard to keep track of them all. The most important characters are well written though, and they are easy to follow, so that is just a small quibble. For the finale AR leaves what happens to Rowan and Lasher very much up in the air, setting the stage for the sequel of course. It is a fun, engaging read for people who like family sagas and witch craft. Few modern writers can craft a tale of this magnitude with the beauty and clarity, with characters that come alive in your imagination, than Anne Rice has here. If this one doesn’t turn you into a fan, its unlikely many of her other works will…I can’t recommend this highly enough.

ANNE RICE

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Comments

  1. Great review! “The Witching Hour” is my favourite novel by Anne Rice. Will be sure to share this one! I really enjoy all your reviews.

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  2. I keep reading these over and over. I love the Mayfair Witches!

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  3. Yes my favorite book by Anne Rice! I wish she would write another awesome series like this!

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  4. TJ Patrick Gaare says:

    I found this review to be eloquent captivating and right on point. When I first read and rice is Mayfair witches I was enthralled and fascinated with the characters the subtleties the nuances you almost felt like you were there in the story I myself have never visited New Orleans or that area of the country and I could almost smell the Magnolia almost smell the ocean. Feel the excitement in the krill distich hearing the words Lasher and Mayfair which is made me tingle with incitement. Miss Rice has been a favorite author of mine for years. My only complaint is that it was never made into a movie for quality movie .

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  5. Jean Delgado says:

    5th paragraph, typo: “… current Talamasca expert on the Mayfair’s is Aaron.” The word / name should be “Mayfairs” here; i.e., not a possessive, a plural indicating Aaron is an expert on the many members of the Mayfair clan or, the Mayfairs.
    7th paragraph, typo: “… there is an amply supply…” The word “ample” should be used in place of “amply.” You could say that blood and sex are “amply supplied.” However, in the context given by GV, the following will be correct: “… there is an ample supply of blood and sex…”

    Aside from the typos found above which are simply distracting, this review achieves an accurate summary of truths gleaned from Mrs. Rice’s novel: There IS “no better witchcraft saga”! Upon my first reading of this novel, I too, had never set foot in New Orleans. Rice made it all real for me, as well: The mansions, the ironwork, the sitting rooms, etc. Her conjuring of descriptive prose is masterful, drawing the reader into the tale.

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  6. Michelle says:

    This has always been one of my most favorite books by Anne Rice. Very well written and she really does take you into the scenery and totally engrosses you into their world.

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  7. Millie Lugo says:

    This was the first Ann Rice book that I read back in early 80s.
    I was mesmerized by her captivating writing.
    Since then I have become her most fervent fan.
    I owe every single on of books, and love how she has grown expanding her her vision with werewolves
    Who are just as fascinating.
    Another one of my favorites, for which I have requested Ms. Anne for a sequel is “The Mummy.”
    Wham an amazing tale.. Would live another book.
    Thank you Anne for your amazing books and for making each one of us your friends. You are lived, admired and respected.
    Keep up the good work.

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  8. Totally agree with this review! I was in a daze several days after I finished reading The Witching Hour. It’s beautiful!

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  9. Excellent Review will love to read this book!

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  10. Excellent Review will love to read this book !

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  11. I LOVE “The Witching Hour” so much that one of my daughters is named Rowan.
    I have an original print hardback copy that I got signed by Anne Rice, to my daughter Rowan.
    I have a paperback copy that is falling apart from multiple “re-readings”.
    I have copies of the comic book, which has incredible art work telling the story.
    I even made my family stop, so I could get a picture of myself in front of the First Street House, as we were passing through New Orleans on our way to another state. (It looks exactly how you would expect it to look after reading the book. Anne Rice actually owned it for many years.)
    I love the “time travel” you experience while reading the “File on the Mayfair Witches”.
    As mentioned above, there are so many well developed characters that it can at times become hard to keep up with them all. I bought the paperback copy used, and the previous owner had written the names of the 13 generations of “main” witch in order in the front of the book. I highly recommend this, in fact I wrote them on a piece of paper which I use as my bookmark while reading it.
    I love the Talamasca and how thier history and ranks have been expanded and explained in future Rice novels, right down to what I thought was a satisfying origin in her book “Prince Lestat”.
    I also like the books that follow in the “Mayfair Witches” series.
    I like the nuggets of information we get about the Family that the Talamasca were not able to uncover and add the the previously mentioned “File”.
    In the books that follow “The Witching Hour” (“Lasher” and “Taltos”) I particularly love the characters Mona and Ancient Evelyn who appear ever so slightly in the first book.
    I could go on and on, but I will end by saying don’t be overwhelmed by the length, enjoy the detail in every page. Don’t be in to big of a hurry to get to the end, it will come before you want it to, even in this big ol’ book. And don’t be to mad at Rowan, she ends up paying a pretty heavy price for her arrogance.

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