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From the author of the extraordinary Vampire Chronicles comes a huge hypnotic novel of witchcraft and the occult through four centuriesDemonstrating once again her gift for spellbinding storytelling and the creation of legend Anne Rice makes real for us a great dynasty of witches—a family given to poetry and to incest to murder and to philosophy; a family that over the ages is itself haunted by a powerful dangerous and seductive beingOn the veranda of a great New Orleans house now faded a mute and fragile woman sits rocking and The Witching Hour beginsIt begins in our time with a rescue at sea  Rowan Mayfair a beautiful woman a brilliant practitioner of neurosurgery—aware that she has special powers but unaware that she comes from an ancient line of witches—finds the drowned body of a man off the coast of California and brings him to life  He is Michael Curry who was born in New Orleans and orphaned in childhood by fire on Christmas Eve who pulled himself up from poverty and who now in his brief interval of death has acuired a sensory power that mystifies and frightens himAs these two fiercely drawn to each other fall in love and—in passionate alliance—set out to solve the mystery of her past and his unwelcome gift the novel moves backward and forward in time from today's New Orleans and San Francisco to long ago Amsterdam and a château in the France of Louis XIV  An intricate tale of evil unfolds—an evil unleashed in seventeenth century Scotland where the first witch Suzanne of the Mayfair conjures up the spirit she names Lasher a creation that spells her own destruction and torments each of her descendants in turnFrom the coffee plantations of Port au Prince where the great Mayfair fortune is made and the legacy of their dark power is almost destroyed to Civil War New Orleans as Julien—the clan's only male to be endowed with occult powers—provides for the dynasty its foothold in America the dark luminous story encompasses dramas of seduction and death episodes of tenderness and healing  And always—through peril and escape tension and release—there swirl around us the echoes of eternal war innocence versus the corruption of the spirit sanity against madness life against death  With a dreamlike power the novel draws us through circuitous twilight paths to the present and Rowan's increasingly inspired and risky moves in the merciless game that binds her to her heritage And in New Orleans on Christmas Eve this strangest of family sagas is brought to its startling climax

10 thoughts on “The Witching Hour

  1. says:

    I actually uite enjoyed this book up until the very end when I felt like the main female character just had some sort of weird personality seizure and did something that the character as you've come to know her just wouldn't have done It just made it seem poorly written to me like Ms Rice decided in the last 10 pages or so that it was going to have a seuel after all when she had been intending from the beginning for it to be a one book story

  2. says:

    My witchathon concludes with The Witching Hour the eleventh novel by Anne Rice Published in 1990 I was hoping it might be the author's thirteenth book but this goth epic of blood sugar sex and black magic is a monster as is The word count is 327360 words 10000 shy of Stephen King's baby high chair Under the Dome Rice is a gifted scenarist who sets the table for adult horror dripping with sensuality and dread the type moviegoers had to imagine in the 1940s with thrillers like Cat People or I Walked With a Zombie While her atmosphere is combustible her storytelling skills are flaccid and I reached a point where I just wanted this to endThe novel gets off impressively Chapters one through six alternate between three main characters and three citizens of New Orleans a doctor a priest and a woman who marries into a family owned funeral parlor These locals are traumatized by their experiences with Deirdre Mayfair a woman in her late 40s and heir to a family fortune Deirdre has existed in a catatonic state for thirty years since her child was taken away from her to be raised by a cousin in California Cared for by her sister Carlotta Deirdre wastes away in a grand but decaying house on First Street spook central for stories the nuns tell naughty children about witches in the Garden DistrictThe doctor the priest and the woman have at one time wanted to help cure Deirdre or reunite her with her daughter but find the heir to the Mayfair fortune to be lost in her own world as well as controlled not only by feared attorney Miss Carl but a strange man that has been seen near her for years Each of our do gooders has had an encounter with that man and unburden themselves to inuiring mind Aaron Lightner an Englishman who's part historian and part psychic detective for a transcontinental organization called the Talamasca which in addition to investigating vampires and ghosts has kept tabs on the Mayfair family for generations Lightner had proved an excellent listener responding gently without ever interrupting But the doctor did not feel better In fact he felt foolish when it was over As he watched Lightner gather up the little tape recorder and put it in his briefcase he had half a mind to ask for the tapeIt was Lightner who broke the silence as he laid down several bills over the checkThere is something I must explain to you he said I think it will ease your mindWhat could possibly do that?You remember Lightner said that I told you I collect ghost storiesYesWell I know of that old house in New Orleans I've seen it And I've recorded other stories of people who have seen the man you describedThe doctor was speechless The words had been said with utter conviction In fact they had been spoken with such authority and assurance that the doctor believed them without doubt He studied Lightener in detail for the first time The man was older than he seemed on first inspection Perhaps sixty five even seventy The doctor found himself captivated again by Lightner's expression so affable and trusting so inviting of trust in returnOthers the doctor whispered Are you sure?I've heard other accounts some very like your own And I tell you this so you understand that you didn't imagine it And so it doesn't continue to prey on your mind You couldn't have helped Deirdre Mayfair by the way Carlotta Mayfair would never have allowed it You ought to put the entire incident out of your mind Don't ever worry about it againMeanwhile in San Francisco forty eight year old Michael Curry has plied himself with beer and shut himself indoors while the news media stake him out Pulled from the bay and revived after drowning the New Orleans native and restorer of old houses has discovered an unwanted talent for psychometry picking up psychic visions off any object he touches Donning leather gloves to blunt the effect Michael received a vision while clinically dead of others instructing him that he had some purpose to fulfill but can't remember what it is he's supposed to do He compels his doctor to track down his rescuer hoping he might have spoken about his vision to themMichael's savoir is Rowan Mayfair thirty year old board certified Staff Attending in Neurosurgery Rejecting a promising career in research Rowan has found her calling in trauma surgery Raised by wealthy adoptive parents in Tiburon and recently orphaned she recharges her batteries after a fifteen hour shift by taking her yacht the Sweet Christine into Richardson Bay and then the open sea The cabin of the yacht has been the location of Rowan's other favorite pasttime taking select cops firemen or first responders she picks up in neighborhood bars for recreational sex Rowan has followed Michael's story in the tabloids and wants to contact him for far than professional courtesy There are three people Rowan knows of that she's has killed by thought most recently her philandering adoptive father who threatened to leave Rowan's terminally ill adoptive mother unless Rowan slept with him Michael's experience with psychic phenomena make him one of her people while his rough and tumble build blue eyes and worker's hands cloaked in leather have their allure to her as well Rowan takes Michael to her home and in addition to vividly describing the mystiue of New Orleans and San Francisco Rice demonstrates her facility for writing hot sex When he saw her breasts through the thin covering of nylon he kissed them through the cloth deliberately teasing himself his tongue touching the dark circle of the nipple before he forced the cloth away What did it feel like the black leather touching her skin caressing her nipples? He lifted her breasts kissing the hot curve of them underneath he loved this particular juicy crevice then he sucked the nipples hard one after the other rubbing and gathering the flesh feverishly with the palm of his handShe was twisting under him her body moving helplessly it seemed her lips grazing his unevenly shaven chin then all soft and sweet over his mouth her hands slipping into his shirt and feeling his chest as if she loved the flatness of itShe pinched his nipples as he suckled hers He was so hard he was going to spill He stopped rose on his hands and tried to catch his breath then sank down next to her He knew she was pulling off her jeans He brought her close feeling the smooth flesh of her back then moving down to the curve of her soft clutchable and kneadable little bottomNo waiting now he couldn't In a rage of impatience he took off his glasses and shoved them on the bedside table Now she would be a lush soft blur to him but all the physical details he'd seen were ever present in his mind He was on top of her Her hand moved against his crotch unzipped his pants and brought out his sex roughly slapping it as if to test its hardness a little gesture that almost brought him over the edge He felt the prickly curling thatch of pubic hair the heated inner lips and finally the tight pulsing sheath itself as he enteredI did mention that The Witching Hour is 327360 words so if you like the supernatural and erotica Anne Rice has A lot After three rounds of world class sex Michael takes leave of Rowan to make a flight to New Orleans he'd booked his passage before they officially met Michael feels pulled to his hometown and after picking up no clues from Rowan or her boat believes the riddle behind his vision lies in the Big Easy Michael has many memories of the city particularly a house on First Street in the Garden District his mother would take him past on walks and where a strange man watched him from the porch Drunk Michael heads straight for that house and sees the man again He passes outWhen Michael recovers he finds himself at the Pontchartrain Hotel with Aaron Lightner The Englishman attempted to make contact with Michael in San Francisco intrigued by his psychometric talents and is operating under the impression that Rowan Mayfair hired Michael to do some work for her in New Orleans Through much exposition Lightner reveals that Rowan is heir to a vast family fortune here in the Crescent City and that house that Michael has been obsessed with and everything in it belongs to her He convinces Michael to come with him to a motherhouse the Talamasca has in Metairie where he is given a file to read on the Mayfair WitchesBack in San Francisco Rowan is awakened by a presence She finds a man standing on the dock who dims away In the morning Rowan receives a call from Carlotta Mayfair Miss Carl is unaware that Rowan's adoptive mother is deceased and has to notify her niece that her birth mother Deirdre passed away that morning She warns Rowan to avoid New Orleans at all costs The doctor ignores her Michael makes progress on the file of the Mayfair Witches which goes back twelve generations and spans Scotland France and New Orleans in an orgy of persecution personal fortune and madness with that man who goes by the name Lasher waiting in the wings Though Deirdre has slumbered in a twilight induced by drugs all of her adult life there have been countless sightings by those around her of a mysterious brown haired man Nurses in St Ann's Asylum claimed to have seen him some man going into her room Now I know I saw that At a Texas hospital where she was incarcerated briefly a doctor claimed to have seen a mysterious visitor who always seemed somehow to just disappear when I wanted to uestion him or ask him who he wasAt least one nurse in a northern Louisiana sanitarium insisted to her superiors that she had seen a ghost Black orderlies in various hospitals saw that man all the time One woman told us He not human I know him when I see him I see spirits I call them up I know him and he know me and he don't come near me at allMost workmen cannot work on the First Street house any today than they could in the days when Deirdre was a girl There are the same old stories There is even some talk of a man around here who doesn't want things doneThe strengths of The Witching Hour and part of what has driven Anne Rice up the bestseller's charts over the years is her command of prose while trafficking in the supernatural and the sensual Her attention to detail whether it's describing a witch burning in the 17th century or a crumbling Irish Catholic church in the present is so good Rather than ride a marketable genre to its obvious and boring conclusions Rice paints vivid pictures of places and people She knows cities She knows Catholicism I liked how a family owned funeral parlor in New Orleans knows where all the bodies are buried and keep uiet about than they'll ever reveal and this is one minor characterI loved how Rice's characters who've come in close contact with the Mayfair witches are suffering from the same trauma as a motorist buzzed by a UFO; they've experienced something they can't explain and want answers In another excellent stroke Rice stumbles onto the conceit of renovating a haunted house confident enough to cite novels about great houses like Great Expectations or Rebecca by name and in addition to crafting home design porn that matches her skin porn raises compelling uestions about whether new tenants and new fixtures are enough to drive out bad energy hovering around an old houseThe problem with The Witching Hour is that it's two stories a back story about witches that's exciting and a front story about modern lovers that's lame Rice doesn't like Rowan Mayfair much the author's sympathies lie with her tragic men while her women seem to be asking for whatever misfortune is visited on them and the neurosurgeon has a cunning that felt robotic to me Rowan and Michael do spend a lot of time crying but the machinery of their romance made me want to get back to the flesh and blood of the witches And 327360 words is too damn long Rosemary's Baby had a far compelling story and characters trapped in a web of black magic and deceit and at 79360 words can be read in a uarter of the time

  3. says:

    I got this book for Christmas that year This was my first ever Anne Rice book and it was about a year after Interview With A Vampire came out as a movie with Brad Pitt Christian Slater and Tom Cruise I was blown away people If you like a story like Gone With the Wind on crack no seriously epic like that except VERY ADULT don't let your tweens get their hands on this one Mom's and Dad's but such an addicting read that you may just get fired for calling in sick over itThis was far and away my favorite Anne Rice novel and any of the other seuels and preuels that go with it and a major recommendation from me on great compelling lose yourself type reading

  4. says:

    Warning SPOILERS And gifs Lots of both actuallyI don't even know how to summarize what I've just finished It's like trying to tell someone what happens in a George RR Martin novel You might try to list item by item but everything is woven with everything else there's no way to distinguish in the grand scheme Oh y'know Stuff happens People threaten each other People fight People die People have sex More stuff happens More people fight More people die The endSorry RobbAnywayBefore I get to what cheesed me off let me say that the middle third of this book was great I absolutely loved the family history portion of this novel the compendium of sources snippets relating to the Mayfair family through several hundred years I would've happily read a complete novel about those people their fucked up family dynamic Unfortunately the long running cycle of Mayfair Witches seemed almost secondary to the primary plot a strange thing to say yes given that the series is called The Mayfair Chronicles But there it is Rather than spend time with Charlotte Deborah Carlotta Stella Julien everyone else it's painfully apparent that their lives misadventures are leading to Rowan Mayfair her boyfriend Michael Curry as their lives are woven into the Evul Plans of a very determined demonspiritthing named LasherBefore I get to Rowan Michael let's talk about Lasher What IS Lasher? After 1000 pages he's still not clearly defined He's an immortal being with intelligence that was called into Earthly existence by a simpleton witch over the centuries he's learned to manipulate mortals breed them together in his ultimate uest that is he wants to give himself a body One would think that makes him mortal but apparently not Just one of several logic gaps Ignore them as needed At any rate Lasher has been interbreeding one family because he looks into the future sees one specific witch Rowan as his door into the world of sensational experience As powerful as other witches have been especially Charlotte Julien Mary Beth they lack Rowan's conceptions of modernity medicine which are what make her so strongOr something It's a really long term Cunning PlantmYeah that's right The demonspiritthing has a Cunning Plantm it's worthy of Gray Eagle himself As for how Lasher's final transformation is to be accomplishedwell it was somewhat nonsensical It involves Lasher fusing himself with the fetus in Rowan's body which then emerges in a bloody scene of horrific birthing though still vague in detail This mutant spawn is born with a giant head limbs that grow into full man size within minutes Rowan has to lay her hands on his body make sure his organs develop properly so he can actually live breathe have sex walk around The whole thing is beyond serious recount Clearly the author was going for some kind of Frankenstein tribute but it didn't work By this point somewhere around page 1015 I just didn't give a fuck And who's to blame for my not caring? Rowan Michael Michael is a classically styled nice guy but that's ALL he is His niceness is boring as hell He's built like a firefighter uber sensitive as in he cries at the beauty of Christmas finds poetry in restoring old houses weeps inside at the ecstasy of making love with Rowan Yes really But despite my personal feelings toward this sort of hero Michael's woobie behavior might have been tolerable had the heroine made up for it Nope Didn't happenRowan has mysterious healing powers but she can also kill people with her mind That sounds great in theory except she's a moo of the first order She judges constantly looks down on people for having Feelz drives like a maniac because she's just that awesome But she's so very very lonely deprived of emotional companionship of course her powers scare her but she's determined to use them for good healing compassion toward the little people of the universe who are human enough to need medical care andExcuse me for disparaging her self righteous spews of whinge chortle At the end of the book after vowing repeatedly at great length to destroy Lasher at her first opportunity what does she do? She falls into the first mental trap Lasher sets abandons the great love of her life that she's been banging on about for the entire novel lets a demonic spirit seduce her falls in love with said demonic spirit heals his freaky fetus body because she can't bear to destroy life runs away with him to hide in Europe do medical research on his cellular tissues Seriously?So what happened to the Mayfair Witches storyline the one about a family of occultists that do witchy things to each other have a ghost haunting their family? Looking back I can only say the book's true focus wasn't on witchcraft I wanted to read a 1000 page book about an inbred line of witchesbut that's not what I got Instead I found a 400 page family history a 600 page metaphysical sci fi adaptation of the The Omen The result was a book that felt like two different concepts forced into one unwieldy whole not to mention the book was 300 pages too long oO35 stars The family compendium was uite interesting but the rest was a borderline snoozeTo conclude here's a picture of Robb holding an armload of puppies I feel better already

  5. says:

    One of my top 3 favorite novels of all time Anne Rice gets a bad rap for being pure shlock but what most people who haven't read her don't realize is that she is obsessed with history She studies a particular time period learns everything she can about it and then creates characters and sticks them in it She rarely disappoints me And her prose is beautiful You can sit down to read and realize that 2 hours have passed having not even noticedThis book is about a woman named Rowan Mayfair who was given up for adoption at birth She has lived a very normal successful life and become a doctor knowing nothing of her birth family or the circumstances of her adoptionAnd then her birth mother in New Orleans dies Suddenly Rowan finds herself haunted by an apparition that she cannot explain She is approached by an old man named Aaron Lightner who tells her that he is with an orginazition called the Talamasca He explains that they exist to watch and study paranormal and supernatural events but do not interfere They have been watching the Mayfair family for hundreds of years After this book the Talamasca was merged into Rice's primary ongoing serial The Vampire ChroniclesAaron presents her with the file on her family and the narrative breaks away for a good 300 pages to tell the tale of an ancient coven of witches reaching back as far as the 1600's The familiar of the Mayfair family is a very powerful spirit named Lasher He is passed down to the first born daughter of each generation Now that her mother is dead Lasher has moved on to RowanRowan decides to head to New Orleans to attend her mother's funeral and meet the family VERY thrilling exciting white knuckled reading ensuesThis is the first book in The Lives of the Mayfair Witches a series which originally spanned only 3 books But when Rice decided that it was time to end all of her ongoing serials she merged these characters with those from the Vampire Chronicles and ended them both together

  6. says:

    What a ueer little book although at 1207 pages little isn't the right word This was my first attempt at Anne Rice and I fear it might well be my lastHalfway through The Witching Hour I was absolutely enthralled I loved the idea of The Talamasca At that stage of the story I would have loved knowing it was a real organisation and applied for a job I revelled in learning the entire Mayfair history Anne Rice has a gift for choosing the words that bring it all to life I could imagine the house on First Street and see everything as the characters walk through the Garden DistrictSo why only one star? Firstly I thought it was too long I love books reading and don't shy away from a challenge but I felt it just took too long to get to a disappointing ending And that really is the crux of my complaint How it all ends In a word pitifullyRowan the all powerful 13th witch in the Mayfair Dynasty destiny so completely consumed in her eternal love for Michael gives up betrays Michael and helps Lasher? Please For me it not only belittled her character and relationship with Michael but made a mockery of it None of it rang true After wading through this all I am left with is a feeling of being cheated

  7. says:

    uite possibly ground zero for the term “info dump” Said info dump masueraded as a lesson in family history that droned on for roughly half the very long book Also the rough sex enjoyed by the two MCs was disturbingly portrayed as some kind rape fantasy on both their parts Think about that for a second Michael Curry presented as a stock Good Guy character in his most secret dark thoughts fantasized about raping a woman and Rowan Mayfair the smart strong heroine repeatedly asked her sexual partners to “make it a rape”I would say that some allowances should be made for the 25 year old publication date BUT I’m not sure I can convince myself or anyone else that that sort of thing was ever socially acceptable

  8. says:

    I FINALLY finished this Good Lord what a long winded mess this was All the wordy history was boring but I stuck it out then ended up hating the ending Why in the world to I keep reading Anne Rice?

  9. says:

    I imagine this as a fabulous mini series featuring Kathy Bates and Sharon Stone in key roles why can't this happen? someone make this happen

  10. says:

    Jar of Death Pick #1345 Stars This book is a monster On the verandah of a great New Orleans house now faded a mute and fragile woman sits rocking I read those words about a decade ago and I just had to read this book The Witching Hour actually belongs to my sister but after I read for the first time all those years ago I just kept itAnd I don't feel bad about it either The Witching Hour is about the Mayfair family The Mayfair's are family of very powerful witches who are watched over by a powerful dangerous and seductive being This book has everything Romance incest murder incest secret societiesDid I mention incest because there is A LOT of incest and rape If you have any triggers then don't read this book Anne Rice is widely known for her very dark and sexy novels and I think with The Witching Hour she reached her peak A must read