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The Witching Hour (Lives of Mayfair Witches Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

Anne Rice
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (745 customer reviews)

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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

From the author of the extraordinary Vampire Chronicles comes a huge, hypnotic novel of witchcraft and the occult through four centuries.

Demonstrating, 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 being.

On the veranda of a great New Orleans house, now faded, a mute and fragile woman sits rocking . . . and The Witching Hour begins.

It 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 acquired a sensory power that mystifies and frightens him.

As 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 turn.

From 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.


From the Hardcover edition.

Books In This Series (3 Books)
Complete Series


  • Editorial Reviews

    Amazon.com Review

    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.

    From Publishers Weekly

    "We watch and we are always here" is the motto of the Talamasca, a saintly group with extrasensory powers which has for centuries chronicled the lives of the Mayfairs--a dynasty of witches that brought down a shower of flames in 17th-century Scotland, fled to the plantations of Haiti and on to the New World, where they settled in the haunted city of New Orleans. Rice ( The Queen of the Damned ) plumbs a rich vein of witchcraft lore, conjuring in her overheated, florid prose the decayed antebellum mansion where incest rules, dolls are made of human bone and hair, and violent storms sweep the skies each time a witch dies and the power passes on. Newly annointed is Rowan Mayfair, a brilliant California neurosurgeon kept in ignorance of her heritage by her adoptive parents. She returns to the fold after bringing back Michael Curry from the dead; he, too, has unwanted extrasensory gifts and, like Rowan and the 12 Mayfairs before her, has beheld Lasher: devil, seducer, spirit. Now Lasher wants to come through to this world forever and Rowan is the Mayfair who can open the door. This massive tome repeatedly slows, then speeds when Rice casts off the Talamasca's pretentious, scholarly tones and goes for the jugular with morbid delights, sexually charged passages and wicked, wild tragedy. 300,000 first printing; BOMC main selection.
    Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

    Product Details

    • File Size: 2607 KB
    • Print Length: 1058 pages
    • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reissue edition (November 17, 2010)
    • Sold by: Random House LLC
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B004AM5QWG
    • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
    • X-Ray:
    • Word Wise: Enabled
    • Lending: Not Enabled
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,241 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    58 of 59 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Totally Bewitched December 2, 2013
    Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
    I bought the electronic version of this book because my hardcover copy was getting a bit worn. Actually more than a bit worn.

    As blasphemous as this may sound, this is probably my favorite book by Anne Rice. Maybe it was the age I was at when it was released. I don't know. I can honestly say that I have read, and pretty much loved every book she's written, but this one put so many hooks in me that I guess I never got away.

    There are so many stories going on. There is the child, practically stolen at birth. The ghost that gives wealth and power while it plots it's future. The lost women, used and discarded. An evil woman so cloaked in self righteousness that she believes her behavior is not only acceptable, but necessary. And the witch determined to free the family from it's curse.

    Witch burnings, the Renaissance, moving to the New World, the Jazz Age. After all, this story covers some 300 plus years. And then there is New Orleans and the House. There is simply no other place like New Orleans. Even today the streets, houses, cemeteries, people, churches and sometimes, it seems, the very air are different. A very Old World place plopped down in the New.

    I truly believe that in just about anyone else's hands all of the threads of this story would be a knot so tangled it would require a knife to undo. A really big knife. How she manages it is beyond me- but she does. Beautifully.

    So, if you like history, romance, mystery, suspense, and some seriously spooky goings on, you might love this book as much as I do. Well, almost as much.
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    126 of 141 people found the following review helpful
    Format:Mass Market Paperback
    "The Witching Hour," Anne Rice's 1990 foray into witchcraft and the occult, is not really a change of pace for the uniquely gifted author more than it is a better realized creation emphasizing her strengths and obsessions. As most readers know, Rice cut her teeth with the enormously successful Vampire Chronicles including "Interview with the Vampire" and "The Vampire Lestat." With "The Witching Hour," Rice has taken a well-deserved break from the immortal lives of her witty vampire clan, creating a fascinating legend of a family of witches stretching back four centuries and two continents.
    The witches, known as the Mayfairs, are connected by the haunting thread of the mysterious spirit Lasher, appearing ghost-like to a selected few, standing within the shadows of ominous trees and forming within mirrors, tears streaking his pale face. Lasher forms an eerie, if not erotic bond with the women of the Mayfair clan, providing untold riches and eventually amorous damnation. But Lasher, much like the legacy of the Mayfair family, is an exotic mystery waiting to be solved, and this intimidating responsiblity falls into the modern-day hands of Michael Curry and Rowan Mayfair. This appealing, love-struck couple, set out for New Orleans to solve the mystery and reclaim the souls of the Mayfair family.
    "The Witching Hour" was eventually followed by two sequels, but it stands alone as one of Rice's greatest novels, an enthralling, complex epic filled with gothic mystery, dancing ghosts and heartbreaking irony. Her descriptions of the decayed mansion on First Street, situated in the Garden District of New Orleans, a moody, ancient home owned by the Mayfairs for over 100 years, provides some of this novels most sensual and memorable passages.
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    35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars My All Time Favorite Book December 31, 2013
    Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
    This may be my all time favorite book. Ever. I first read this book when I was 9 years old. I skimmed through it, reading bits and pieces. As I got older, I kept picking this book up and re-reading it, gleaning more and more of the information contained within the text. So many different stories, so many different characters. I remember re-enacting some of the stories with my dolls.

    This novel is epic, both in length and in the story. Dr. Rowan Mayfair discovers that she is adopted several years after the death of her adoptive parents and after the death of her biological mother, a woman she never even knew existed. Rowan is an heiress to a massive fortune and a large mansion in the Garden District in New Orleans. Along with the house and fortune, Rowan inherits a massive family with a long and twisted history and a family ghost.

    Maybe I love this novel because I too, am adopted. I think every adopted child fantasizes about their biological parents,, imagining them to be someone famous, royalty or very wealthy. Anne Rice created a character that seems absolutely real from the beginning, coming alive off the page and turning into a living, breathing woman before your eyes.

    All of Anne Rice's characters throughout the novel have a tendency to leap off the page and become real for the reader. I can almost hear their voices, accents and inflections in the dialogue, as if I was watching a mini-series in my head. With each re-read of this book, I enjoy it more and more. With each turn of the very last page, I feel as though I have uncovered yet another dark secret from within the novel. A sense of accomplishment comes every time I read the last few words.
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    Most Recent Customer Reviews
    5.0 out of 5 stars Definitely recommend for anyone seeking a fantasy book with terrific...
    An epic read. I had never read a book written with so much detail and development. The storyline is well thought out and left me hungering to get through it. Read more
    Published 10 days ago by Michael Fields
    5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read!
    I have this book in paperback and will most likely keep it, but I enjoy Anne Rice's books, and have read most of them before.
    Published 14 days ago by Sangretta
    5.0 out of 5 stars Very imaginative writer.
    Taltos, Lasher and the Mayfair witches are a great trilogy. Couldn't put them down. The only problem I had with Ann Rice is that she is boringly descriptive of New Orleans. Read more
    Published 23 days ago by Harry
    5.0 out of 5 stars Great reading
    I love this book! It has been a fun and interesting book to read. I would recommend it to anyone who likes scary romantic stories.
    Published 27 days ago by C. Feather
    1.0 out of 5 stars not my cup of tea
    I never finished it. I lost interest pretty quickly.
    Published 1 month ago by John R Outler
    5.0 out of 5 stars Witching hour.. AWESOME
    I've never read a witch book before.. I love the story, I love the characters. I'm currently about half way through and really love it!
    Published 1 month ago by Gary Butler
    5.0 out of 5 stars Good book.
    I love Anne Rice's early stuff.
    Published 1 month ago by scorpio
    3.0 out of 5 stars Long and drawn out
    I knew this book would be long with it being over 1,000 pages, but it seemed to drag on and took a long time to really capture my interest. Read more
    Published 1 month ago by Donna J. Huffman
    3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating but flawed
    More like 3½ stars, though this is the second time I read it. As a younger person I rated it higher. Read more
    Published 1 month ago by Robert Salmon
    4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
    Very Good
    Published 1 month ago by Debi Anderson
    Search Customer Reviews

    More About the Author

    Anne Rice was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. She holds a Master of Arts Degree in English and Creative Writing from San Francisco State University, as well as a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science. Anne has spent more of her life in California than in New Orleans, but New Orleans is her true home and provides the back drop for many of her famous novels. The French Quarter provided the setting for her first novel, Interview with the Vampire. And her ante-bellum house in the Garden District was the fictional home of her imaginary Mayfair Witches.

    She is the author of over 30 books, most recently the Toby O'Dare novels Of Love and Evil, and Angel Time; the memoir, Called Out of Darkness;and her two novels about Jesus, Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt and Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana. (Anne regards Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana as her best novel.) ---- Under the pen name, A.N. Roquelaure, Anne is the author of the erotic (BDSM) fantasy series, The Sleeping Beauty Trilogy. Under the pen name Anne Rampling she is the author of two erotic novels, Exit to Eden and Belinda.

    Anne publicly broke with organized religion in July of 2010 on moral grounds, affirming her faith in God, but refusing any longer to be called "Christian." The story attracted surprising media attention, with Rice's remarks being quoted in stories all over the world. Anne hopes that her two novels about Jesus will be accepted on their merits by readers and transcend her personal difficulties with religion. "Both my Christ the Lord novels were written with deep conviction and a desire to write the best novels possible about Jesus that were rooted in the bible and in the Christian tradition. I think they are among the best books I've ever been able to write, and I do dream of a day when they are evaluated without any connection to me personally. I continue to get a lot of very favorable feedback on them from believers and non believers. I remain very proud of them."

    Anne is very active on her FaceBook Fan Page and has well over a million followers. She answers questions every day on the page, and also posts on a variety of topics, including literature, film, music, politics, religion, and her own writings. Many indie authors follow the page, and Anne welcomes posts that include advice for indie authors. She welcomes discussion there on numerous topics. She frequently asks her readers questions about their response to her work and joins in the discussions prompted by these questions.

    Her novel, "The Wolves of Midwinter," a sequel to "The Wolf Gift" and part of a werewolf series set in Northern California in the present time, will be published on October 15, 2013. In these books --- The Wolf Gift Chronicles -- Anne returns to the classic monsters and themes of supernatural literature, similar to those she explored in her Vampire Chronicles, and tales of the Mayfair Witches. Her new "man wolf" hero, Reuben Golding, is a talented young man in his twenties who suddenly discovers himself in possession of werewolf powers that catapult him into the life of a comic book style super hero. How Reuben learns to control what he is, how he discovers others who possess the same mysterious "wolf gift," and how he learns to live with what he has become --- is the main focus of the series. "The Wolves of Midwinter" is a big Christmas book --- a book about Christmas traditions, customs, and the old haunting rituals of Midwinter practiced in Europe and in America. It's about how the werewolves celebrate these rituals, as humans and as werewolves. But the book also carries forward the story of Reuben's interactions with his girl friend, Laura, and with his human family, with particular focus on Reuben's father, Phil, and his brother, Jim. As a big family novel with elements of the supernatural, "The Wolves of Midwinter" has much in common with Anne's earlier book, "The Witching Hour." Among the treats of "The Wolves of Midwinter" is a tragic ghost who appears in the great house at Nideck Point, and other "ageless ones" who add their mystery and history to the unfolding revelations that at times overwhelm Reuben.

    In October of 2014, with the publication of "Prince Lestat," Anne returned to the fabled "Brat Prince" of the Vampire Chronicles, catching up with him in present time. This is the first of several books planned focusing on Lestat's new adventures with other members of the Vampire tribe. When the publication of "Prince Lestat" was announced on Christopher Rice's "The Dinner Party Show," a weekly internet radio broadcast, it made headlines in the US and around the world. "Prince Lestat" debuted at #3 on the New York Times Best Seller list and ran for nine weeks during the height of the competitive Fall-Winter season, with another week on the extended NYTBSL. ----

    Anne's latest novel, "Beauty's Kingdom," is the fourth in her "Sleeping Beauty Erotica Series," and the first to be launched in hardcover. Though the first three novels were published in the 1980's under the pseudonym, A.N. Roquelaure, the name, Anne Rice, was added to the series in the 1990's. About her erotica, Anne has this to say: "I believe in the erotic imagination. I believe men and women have a right to write and read erotic fantasies. My goal with the "Sleeping Beauty" books is to provide the most authentic erotica that I can for those who share BDSM fantasies."

    Anne's first novel, Interview with the Vampire, was published in 1976 and has gone on to become one of the best-selling novels of all time. She continued her saga of the Vampire Lestat in a series of books, collectively known as The Vampire Chronicles, which have had both great mainstream and cult followings.

    Interview with the Vampire was made into a motion picture in 1994, directed by Neil Jordan, and starring Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Kirsten Dunst and Antonio Banderas. The film became an international success. Anne's novel, Feast of All Saints about the free people of color of ante-bellum New Orleans became a Showtime mini series in 2001 and is available now on dvd. The script for the mini series by John Wilder was a faithful adaptation of the novel.

    In 2014, Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment optioned "The Vampire Chronicles" for a full reboot of the franchise.

    Anne Rice is also the author of other novels, including The Witching Hour, Servant of the Bones, Merrick, Blackwood Farm, Blood Canticle, Violin, and Cry to Heaven. She lives in Palm Desert, California, but misses her home in New Orleans. She hopes to obtain a pied a terre in the French Quarter there some time in the near future.

    Anne has this to say of her work: "I have always written about outsiders, about outcasts, about those whom others tend to shun or persecute. And it does seem that I write a lot about their interaction with others like them and their struggle to find some community of their own. The supernatural novel is my favorite way of talking about my reality. I see vampires and witches and ghosts as metaphors for the outsider in each of us, the predator in each of us...the lonely one who must grapple day in and day out with cosmic uncertainty."


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