Demonstrating once again her gift for spellbinding storytelling, Anne Rice makes real for us a great dynasty of four centuries of witches - a family given to poetry and incest, murder and philosophy, a family that over the ages is itself haunted by a powerful, dangerous, and seductive being called Lasher who haunts the Mayfair women....
Moving in time from today's New Orleans and San Francisco to long-ago Amsterdam and the France of Louis XIV, from the coffee plantations of Port-au-Prince to Civil War New Orleans and back to today, Anne Rice has spun a mesmerizing tale that challenges everything we believe in.
"[A] huge and sprawling tale of horror." (The New York Times Book Review)
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Greatest Supernatural Thriller of the 20th Century
THANK YOU AUDIBLE!
I have been waiting YEARS for an unabridged reading of The Witching Hour
Twenty years ago I picked up this book off my mother’s nightstand hoping to read a few chapters to help me fall asleep the night before a big college exam. Needless to say I was still completely immersed in the book when my alarm clock went off at 7:00am. I missed my exam, and the following two days of school because I could not put the book down.
This book centers on the Mayfair Family, but it is really a ghost story. In each generation of the Mayfair Family a daughter is chosen as the “Designee”. She is the Matriarch of the next generation, she is the “heir” to the entire Mayfair fortune, and most importantly, she is a Witch – for only a Mayfair Witch can see “The Man”. But who is “The Man”? Why has he haunted the Mayfair women for centuries? What is his purpose? Is he friend or foe?
To help answer these questions is The Talamasca – a secret society of historians with special powers of their own, self-imposed with the responsibility of watching – recording – and offering assistance to those with special abilities (mind reading, mediums, psychics etc.… ) to help control their powers, or to offer refuge to those being persecuted for having those powers. The Talamasca has been watching the Mayfair family from a distance for centuries, collecting every bit of data on “The Man” and the current Mayfair Designee available to them.
When the book opens, the current Designee is close to death and her daughter – Rowan Mayfair – is completely unaware of the Inheritance she is about to receive. Adopted at birth and whisked away to California, Rowan has no idea of her family in New Orleans or the history surrounding them. She is soon thrust into the Mayfair Legacy and she must – with the help of those close to her – find a way to overcome the tragedies that have claimed the sanity and lives of the Mayfair Witches that have come before her.
A few things to know:
Anne Rice is very hot/cold writer in my opinion. Her books are either great or horrible. Obviously, this book is great! But it is the first in a trilogy and the second book “Lasher” is not so great. But please don’t let that stop you from getting this book – I have read, and re-read this book many times as a stand-alone. I see that the next two books will be available on Audible and I still plan to get them. I have not re-read the second or third book in over 20 years, so I am interested to see how my 40ish year old brain interprets the story vs. my 20ish year old brain.
Anne Rice is very descriptive writer. Some see this as a negative – I disagree wholeheartedly! One of the reasons I love this book is because I feel completely sucked in. It’s a total immersion. I can smell the gardenias on First Street. I can feel the summer breeze, taste the coffee, and feel the prickle on the back of my neck. It the type of book where I find the transition from “book world” to “real world” very jarring and hard to reacquaint myself with the everyday details of my life.
I will address one of the frequent negative review complaints: It’s a big book – about 950+ pages in print, and 50 hours in Audio. Like I said, Rice is a very descriptive writer, and it works for this story. The beginning can feel a bit slow at spots… and just about when the plot really gets going and the reader realizes the enormity of the situation (that Holy &^!% moment), the story comes to a complete halt and the reader is given the complete history of the Mayfair family from the Talamasca. When I got to this part during my first reading I actually said out loud, “NO!!!” – it was 300+ pages of history I didn’t want to schlep through just when the story was getting very, very climatic. Trust me, some of the best parts of this story are within the History. We are taken back 300 years and guided through the history of each Mayfair Designee. When the story finally came back to “present day” I was saddened to leave such a rich and beautiful history behind.
Narration: This is my first experience with Kate Reading. I think she did a fine job. For the type of story it is – a slow and unfolding, unhurried and eloquent tale – she was a good fit. Some scenes I thought could have been done differently, but on a whole, I have no complaints. One thing that I found interesting – As I said in my opening paragraph, this book sucked me in so hard that I actually called in sick just to stay home and read. Since finding Audible, it has opened up the world of books to me because I can “read” while I do other things. I average about 4 books a month and listen while I drive, do housework, grocery shop, etc.… But even listening to this book, I found myself sitting down in my favorite chair and just listening… I still lost an entire weekend to this book – even in the audio format. So be warned! lol
For the easily offended: Pass on this book. Make no mistake, this is a beautifully written story – but it has its moments of being shocking, taboo, gross, and morally offensive to some.