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The Witching Hour (Lives of Mayfair Witches) Mass Market Paperback – March 22, 1993
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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.
Impressive...The Witching Hour is a marvel of energy and inventiveness...Powerful. -- The Philadelphia Inquirer
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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.
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.
Not only have I read this novel over and over again, I have also read every other novel Anne Rice has published to date. I think this book shines brighter than any of her other novels or series. Don't misunderstand me, I loved reading her other novels, but this one has always seemed like the best of the best. One of the characters in The Witching Hour, Michael Curry, re-reads Charles Dickens' Great Expectations over and over again because it is his favorite book and never fails to capture his imagination. I feel the same way about The Witching Hour and read it any time I need to escape from reality.
This book has it all: grand plantations, townhouses, a ghost story, family secrets, family history, witches, and a mystery to solve. This novel never fails to suck me in, transport me to the streets of the Garden District and into the Mayfair Family history. I have never been to New Orleans, but I know it would feel familiar if I visited. I would recognize the places in the novel that Anne Rice describes. It wouldn't surprise me to see a twisted old woman sitting on a screened in porch in a rocking chair and know that she was Deirdre Mayfair, or see an old Englishman standing on a street corner and know it was Aaron Lightner. Anne Rice may not know it, but I think that she may have written one of the best books in literary history with The Witching Hour. I can't ever get enough of it, that is the basis for a damn good novel: one that you never want to end.
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.
*File Size: 2872 KB
*Print Length: 1058 pages
*Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0345384466
*Publisher: Ballantine Books (November 17, 2010)
*Sold by: Random House Digital, Inc.
Okay so now I want to explain to you "why" in truth I am being too harsh with my ranking this time. Yes the eBook edition of the book has some typos, this though is a recurrent theme with eBooks (call it the lazy work ethic of those in the industry). I own this book in both paperback and eBook editions and the simple fact is that in the hardcopy there are not any of the annoying errors that the digital copy possesses. This warrants a second look at the books overall score.
Quality - Honestly I'd have to give it 9 out of 10; there are several typos throughout the narrative. However these appear only in the eBook edition because I sat and compared it against the paperback and they didn't materialize within it. These typos aren't so bad or so numerous as to take away from the overall presentation, but I do wish the "big" publishing houses would get their act together and ensure that I'm getting the same quality product in digital form that I get in hardcopy!
Storyline - Definitely a solid 10 out of 10 as well, Anne has envisioned a very likeable world for the reader and breathed life into this creation, to be honest I wish I'd come up with some of the ideas for my own series. Additionally I'd just like to confess that every time I've read this book it has brought a tear to my eye. Anne has captured the emotion of her characters so well that it bubbles over into the reader.
Flow - This I definitely give 10 out of 10. I found the pace moved along engagingly well and all too soon I was turning the last page before I knew it.
Overall Length - It clocks in at 1058 pages. It's long enough for a very detailed character development but the ending does seem to suffer a little. It gives the impression it's rushed compared to the rest of the narrative. However one must also note this is only book one in a three book series so saying it's rushed truly depends on one's point of view. If this is the only volume the reader looks at the ending will seem unsatisfying, but when all three novels are looked at together the bookworms' response quickly changes to, "Wow!" So I'm giving The Witching Hour 10 out of 10 here as well.
Pricing - $7.99 for the eBook edition on Amazon, $7.99 for the paperback copy in the United States, $9.99 for my copy here in Canada. (I love getting scr*wed by Canadian prices! The Canadian dollar is worth more than its American counterpart at this time but we still have to crank out $2 more for the hardcopy?) LOL! Go figure! Even with that being said I am going to give pricing a big 10 out of 10. This is a home run for me. It's not more than I am willing to spend and the value to be had is definitely worth the investment.
So overall I'm giving. "The Witching Hour," 4.9 out of 5 stars. It's a great book and I did love it. With that being said though I'd have ranked the paperback edition 5 out of 5 stars. Any novel that can bring a tear to this reader's eye and choke me up with emotion deserves the highest ranking I could give it. So why not grab yourself a copy and let your imagination take you on a new adventure.