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The Witching Hour by Anne Rice
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The Witching Hour (original 1990; edition 2004)

by Anne Rice

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7,84397669 (3.99)121
Member:fireflywalkingby
Title:The Witching Hour
Authors:Anne Rice
Info:Arrow (2004), Paperback, 400 pages
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The Witching Hour by Anne Rice (1990)

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English (95)  Italian (1)  All languages (96)
Showing 1-5 of 95 (next | show all)
After years of steering clear of her work, I recently decided to get back into reading Anne Rice, having been a fan of her books years ago. Having dispensed with three of her vampire novels, I waded into THE WITCHING HOUR, a novel which has been on my shelf for quite some time. Like THE VAMPIRE CHRONICLES, the saga of the Mayfair Witches was her other great series and I was interested in seeing if she could draw me in the way her adventures of Lestat and his blood drinking companions had. I noticed one big difference right off the bat: at over a thousand pages, this book was way longer than any of her vampire epics. THE WITCHING HOUR is not for the casual reader, as it requires more than the usual patience and attention, as a lot of back story and detail, and description is covered in a multi-generational story stretching from 16th Century Scotland to late 20th Century America, with stops in pre-revolutionary France, colonial Haiti, and Civil War era Louisiana along the way.

THE WITCHING HOUR can loosely be broken down into thirds, with the first section basically setting the table, as we learn about the large and very wealthy Mayfair family of New Orleans through a collection of secondary characters, including a priest and the wife of a mortician. Through their interactions with the Mayfairs, we learn of the many tragedies that have befallen members of the family, the most recent of them being the heir, Deidre, who has been catatonic for decades, ever since newborn daughter was taken from her days after her birth. In this section we also meet Rowan Mayfair, a neurosurgeon in San Francisco, who is gifted with a form of telekinesis, and Michael Curry, a successful businessman, who after a near drowning and rescue by Rowan, has developed extra sensory powers, triggered by touch, powers which torment him so severely that he must constantly wear gloves. Both of the these characters have a powerful attraction to one another, and it gives away nothing to reveal that Rowan is Deidre’s daughter, and that Michael has deep roots in New Orleans as well. A series of events compel both of them to return to The Big Easy, and along the way, they meet Aaron Lightner, an investigator for The Talamasca, a mysterious group that documents the supernatural, an organization familiar to anyone who has read any of Rice’s vampire novels. It seems to be Lightner’s job to fill in the narrative holes in the story, and give the main characters needed information at just the right moment.

The middle of the book is one long piece of back story, as we get learn everything the Talamasca has documented on the Mayfairs down through the years. We learn that an entity has attached itself to the family, specifically to a female with apparent supernatural powers born to each generation. This entity, named Lasher, first appears to be a ghost, but he is much more than that, and though he professes love to each of his “chosen ones,” it is clear that Lasher has a goal in mind, and he is playing a very long game. We meet a lot of Mayfairs along the way: Deborah, Suzanne, Julian, Stella, Anther, Cortland, and Carlotta, all brought to life with Rice’s vivid talent for characterization. The final section of the book centers on Rowan and Michael, now back in New Orleans, and firmly ensconced in the now restored Mayfair mansion in the Garden district, preparing for a showdown with Lasher that has been centuries in coming.

I get the feeling that Rice had a lot of pent up energy after writing all those vampire books, and when she finally sat down to write something different, she really cut loose, as this book has detail and description stacked upon detail and description, from the weather to the clothes any particular character is wearing in any particular scene. Rice is known for this, and at this point in her career (the book came out in 1990), she was successful enough that editors clearly let her have her way – they did the same thing with Stephen King, but while some readers may love too much of a good writer, others just get weary under the weight of all that prose. And it is not always an easy read, though I never found it dull, there were times, especially in the middle, where it felt as if it was taking an eternity to get to the bottom of the page. From a narrative point of view, Rice does shift gears more than once, something which might seem jarring, as characters that are center stage in the first section, fade to the sidelines in the last. And while Rice does have a great knack for making the most bizarre and supernatural of creatures come to life on her pages, she never seems to get comfortable with her main character, Rowan. This is especially true with the ending of THE WITHCHING HOUR, where the story takes some real turns, and Rowan’s character makes choices that appear totally contradictory to the person we have followed for over 900 pages. The ending is a problem of another kind, as it sets things up for a sequel – this book is the first in a trilogy – and I think readers expect resolution after making their way through a book of this length, not “To be continued.” George RR Martin writes incredibly long books in his GAME OF THRONES series, but all of them manage to finish off at least a couple of pertinent plot threads at the end of each volume.

Still, I understand that there is much for many readers, and die hard Anne Rice. fans to love in THE WITHCHING HOUR. Many people are quite drawn to her lengthy descriptions, her florid detail, and her bizarre characters. Though there is nary a vampire in sight, and her main protagonist is a woman, it is obvious Rice still loves her dark and mysterious men; Lasher may be an entity, but he is nothing short of seductive in all of his appearances. Then there is Michael Curry, clearly Anne Rice’s dream hunk, who is described as “walking porn.” The author calls on all her talent for writing erotica when she lovingly describes Rowan and Michael’s love making, as this is undoubtedly one reason for the book’s popularity. I give Rice points for creating her own original mythology, not relying on the usual tropes of witchcraft fiction, and giving us something other than the voodoo priestess clichés one would expect from a novel set in New Orleans; AMERICAN HORROR STORY: COVEN this is not.

So, to answer my own question from the opening paragraph, no, THE WITCHING HOUR did not draw me in the way one of her Lestat books did, but I will say this, both other books in the Mayfair witches trilogy, LASHER and TALTOS, are also on my book shelf, and I will read them. At least they aren’t a thousand pages. ( )
1 vote wb4ever1 | Jun 22, 2019 |
*****SPOILER ALERT*****

This was a reread from my long ago adolescence when I loved everything Anne Rice wrote. It didn't quite live up to my previous 5 star rating, mainly because it was just too long. A lot of repetition in the narrative, and we went down a few worm holes. But it was well written and engaging and gave me enough of the chills I was looking for.

I love her descriptions of New Orleans, the epic history of the Mayfairs and the mysterious Talamasca. Rice also does a very admirable job fleshing out her characters for the most part. I admit to a growing confusion with the ever lengthening family tree and definitely stopped remembering all the Mayfair forbearers after a certain point.

I enjoyed most all of the storyline until we came to the horrific birthing scene. I didn’t really care for that and felt Rowan’s disappearance a bit of a cheap trick. Not sure I’ll pick up the next 2 books in the trilogy,but it’s a possibility. If I do, I hope there’s a geneology chart included. ( )
  Zumbanista | Jan 29, 2019 |
Ughhhhhhhh.

I didn't like this book. There are so many things to it that didn't works for me. It's incredibly long and draggy, with nearly 75% of the book just being an extended family history. The parts that weren't, were mostly sex or indecision or lengthy explanations. For such a long book, very little actually happened.

While the history of the Mayfair witches is interesting enough, I didn't find the story Anne Rice was telling interesting at all. There's no actual witchcraft - the closest bit is in Rowan's dreams. What there is, however, is incest and possession and a lot of talking. And sexxxxx. Sex dreams. Ancestral sex. Sex with a possessed sibling. Sex with a grandfather. One man fathered three generations of Mayfair witches. So much. It's the longest audiobook I've ever listened to, and I was ready to DNF it but I wanted to finish it just so I could complain about it. Which is the wrong way to read a book, by the way.

The elements and themes to this book were not working for me, and I found the writing a bit draggy compared some of her other works. What I would have liked from this book was novella about the various members of the Mayfair family. I found several of Rowan's ancestor's far more interesting than Rowan herself. The instalove between Rowan and Michael was just ridiculous to me - I have a little more tolerance in YA because of the age of the characters, but between a 20 year old and a 40 year old, it felt particularly silly.

I know so many people like the Mayfair books, but I don't love them. I really, really don't. I think the history is interesting, but I don't like the direction Rice decided to take these in and I have absolutely no intention of reading any other Mayfair books. ( )
1 vote Morteana | Sep 5, 2018 |
This one was a beast of a book - if you want a really good doorstopper, this is the one for you. I love Anne Rice and think she's really the go-to author when it comes to reading books with vampires in them (not the Twilight series where vampires sparkle ...). So, it was natural to branch out into her other books and this one didn't disappoint. It's definitely full of description and a bit of a mystery (sort of incorporates a the 'sweeping saga' aspect) - I really enjoyed it. ( )
  justagirlwithabook | Aug 2, 2018 |
This was a re-read for me - I had read it years ago, along with the 2nd in the series, but hadn't gone on after that, so I decided to pick up the series again. This book chronicles the history of the Mayfair witches from the first known witch to the present generation. The Talamasca, who also appear in other series, are a group that has tasked themselves with chronicling the lives of the witches. I enjoy all of Anne Rice's series, and this is no exception.
  GretchenLynn | Dec 14, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 95 (next | show all)
Novela escrita por Anne Rice, y primer libro de la trilogía de "Las Brujas de Mayfair", en el que se explica el origen, tanto de la familia de brujas más antigua, (sobre la que se tenga conocimiento en el universo creado por Anne Rice), como el de las criaturas llamadas Taltos, las cuales son tratadas con mayor profundidad en el tercer libro de la saga.
 
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Epigraph
And the rain is brain-colored.
And the thunder sounds like something remembering something.

STAN RICE
Dedication
With Love:

For Stan Rice and Christopher Rice

For John Preston

For O'Brien Borchardt, Tamara O'Brien Tinker, Karen O'Brien,
and Micki O'Brien Collins

And for
Dorothy Van Bever O'Brien, who bought me my first typewriter in 1959, taking the time and trouble to see that it was a good one.
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The doctor woke up afraid.
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Book description
Rowan Mayfair, a neurosurgeon with special powers and the descendant of a dynasty of witches, is drawn to Michael Curry, gifted with strange powers after a near-fatal accident, as they seek to unlock the secret of their talents.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0345384466, Mass Market Paperback)

In this engrossing and hypnotic tale of witchcraft and the occult spanning four centuries, we meet a great dynasty of witches--a family given to poetry and incest, to murder and philosophy, a family that over the ages is haunted by a powerful, dangerous and seductive being.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:45 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Rowan Mayfair, a neurosurgeon with special powers and the descendant of a dynasty of witches, is drawn to Michael Curry, gifted with strange powers after a near-fatal accident, as they seek to unlock the secret of their talents.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 7 descriptions

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