on December 2, 2013
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.
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.
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.
on April 15, 2003
"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. This house is indeed haunted by spirits and the hovering mysteries of past tragedies, but like Shirley Jackson's classic "The Haunting of Hill House," what is lurking within the home is much more than just crying spirits of the dead.
Rice's body of work has always had an old fashioned taste for the finer things in life, from exquisite bottles of wine to antique furnishings and dusty historic paintings. She caresses these lush trappings, much like a lover embraces an old flame. And her descriptions of these tasteful adornments - clothes, artwork, china, food and even New Orleans culture, all glowing within the flame of yellow candlelight, are examples of her sensual writing style. Granted, the passages leading up to the novel's final conflict, in which Michael and Rowan begin renovating the ancient Mayfair home, move slowly, perhaps providing more architectural detail than the reader is interested in. But Rice is strategically building a growing sense of dread. Horror is going to pay a visit to this young couple, and when it eventually does, the reader's mouth will be agape.
"The Witching Hour" is a mesmerizing novel, combining comfortable elements of the English ghost story with a feather-touch dash of erotica, witchcraft and the occult. As in all Anne Rice novels, the dead will simply not go away. They lurk in the shadows of history, as they have for centuries. Time may have passed these pseudo banshees by, but their power is far reaching. Even within the shadows of skyscrapers, automobiles and computers, these timeless supernatural fears are hiding. In Anne Rice's fascinating worlds, ancient legends live and wait, and our imagination is entranced.
on April 20, 2001
Though I am twelve years old, (if you have read this book than you know that I should not have read it) I enjoy the quality of Anne Rice's novels. The scenes in which her charcters live are wonderfully described, and they become real. I bought this book at the mall with a friend who said ever so rudely to me that I was insane for trying to read a book that size, and it would take me a least a year, but I assured her that the critics were always right, at least about Anne Rice, and I devoured this book in an impressive amount of time. I deeply adore this book now, and am very excited to start Lasher, the next book. The suprise ending hurt me, because it was most definately not what I was expecting! This is now one of my favorite books, and I will most likely purchase the others in the very near future. It's sad romance was a little more than I could endure. I found it sadistic and romantic. If you believe nothing else, believe me when I say this. Anne Rice will not dissapoint you!
on April 24, 2000
If I can sum up this books in a few words I would, but I cannot. It would not do this book any justice to give you a few simple descriptive words on how much I loved this book. Mrs. Rice has out done herself once again, by creating an entire world for us to dwell in and stretch our imaginations even further. Her mastery of the unknown, description, and the undead is a tremendous gift. The Witching Hour kept me glued from the very first page to the very last. She has weaved an entire family history with so many "magikal-skeletons", a prime time televison mini-series would be the perfect display of the magnificence of this novel. The Witching Hour in short, is one big history book. It details the past and current adventures of the family Mayfair, that through the years have amassed great wealth, magic, and influence from an entity known as Lasher to their kin. However, in the old tradition of witch covens - there can only be one who sits at the head of the family - and she is Deidre Mayfair and she is about to die. Her daugher, Rowan Mayfair,whom was taken away at the moment of her birth, never to know her family, has come back to claim what's rightfully hers. However, unbeknownst to Rowan, there's more to this family that meets the eye. We come to find that only women can inherit the role of the head witch of the family, but all is not as it seems because there is a power at work that is claiming this family into it's insestous ways to make the most powerful family. Through a mystical and magikal journey into the dark beginings of this family's history, you come to know the most powerful witches of the clan. In a word-Julien..mesmerizing. When you read this you will know what i mean. Rowan and her family give a stellar performance, as they jump off the pages and you being to take the trip into this dark world with them. Fans of the Vampire Chronicles will have a certain kinship to these books, because our friends from the Talamasca are all over this book. This book is a pure triumph and something that needs to be read carefully, for there is a lot of history and names to know. What I suggest, which is a very fun and interactive way to get involved with the book, is make your own timeline of the Mayfair family and follow along with it during the course of the story as it unfolds and as you are introduced to more of the clan. See if you can figure out the secrets of the mayfair family before you even finish the series. Happy Reading.
on March 23, 2015
This story was profoundly beautiful, moving and very provocative and erotic. A luxurious tale of a family of Deep South witches steeped in lore, magic, romance, and secrecy. This is not your typical witch story, it is better. This story is so unbelievably realistic it almost makes you believe in it. I wish it were real.
This novel has so many amazing characters such as the beautiful and intelligent Rowan Mayfair (my personal favorite), the rough and tragic Michael Curry, the enigmatic and intriguing Aaron Lightner, and let us not forget the clever and seductive Lasher.
These characters are believable, sensual and beautiful. All of them.
As always Anne Rice makes you fall deeply in love with her characters. Just as I feel in love with Laura in "The Wolf Gift", I fell madly in love with Rowan Mayfair.
This novel was beautiful, sensual, intriguing, mysterious and profoundly touching.
I 've already begun reading "Lasher", the second book in the trilogy and I am dying to see what happens!
This novel is one of the most beautiful books I've ever read and it is definitely Anne Rice's best work. "The Witching Hour" is only surpassed by "Interview with Vampire", my favorite book ever.
Anne Rice has a natural talent for bringing the supernatural to life.
These novel brings the supernatural and paranormal to life. Steeped in mystery and suspense, romance and sensuality, intrigue and magic, "The Witching Hour" is Anne Rice at her best.
on October 23, 2003
This abridged audio version is good in some select parts, but laughable in many places. The way they've cut things is just pathetic. Read the books or find an unabridged version, please! These tapes are good if you've read the books and just want to listen to something familiar on a long drive or something, but not if you want to understand the characters. The tapes skip most of the family's history and the beautiful historic descriptions of locations, especially the house (which is SO important), and also skips most of the sex scenes (which I actually didn't mind too much, but I thought it was hysterical). Please, please, please, PLEASE find a better version than these tapes.
on September 7, 1998
After reading the Vampire Chronicles I couldn't wait to read another of Anne Rice's series. After reading this book I doubt I will pick up rest of the Mayfair series. This is mostly due to the ending. The storyline is well written (as always with Rice) and though slow near the middle you won't put it down. An excellent build up to the ending and then a huge let down. Not so much for the end result, though that also was very disapointing, but for the way she gets there. The strong characters do not go kicking and screaming or with even one confrontation, no turning point. Instead they slide right to the end with no real explanation or reason. I'm not sure I can say more without giving away the storyline. Suffice it to say the writing is exceptional. The development of the characters great. There is no climax though. There is a build up of "good v. evil", and then no confrontation, no payoff. That for me was the most disapointing. Rice gets you to believe in Rowan, and then the character just folds. Rowan goes from this incredibly powerful strong, confident figure to a naive, easily manipulated weak figure, and the worst part is she just slides from one to the other. I could live with the ending if it was arrived at in a different way.
on June 25, 2012
I've said it time and time again...I don't hand out 5 star reviews very easily, not even to the "big" established authors, but this book comes darn close. My only real complaint (with the eBook) edition were a couple typos through the 1058 pages that made up the story. Now let's get real...1000+ pages and only a couple typos...okay maybe I'm being too harsh (in truth I am) the book deserves 5 stars but I'm being stubborn with my ratings today, but I'm going to explain to you "why" it actually deserves the higher rating and then I'll let you decide. First though let's look at the book.
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.
on April 14, 2011
I enjoyed the book and found the writing to be engrossing.... that is until words beginning with TH were appearing with an M instead. THE became ME. THERE became MERE. ETC. I eventually got past it because it became so frequent but it pulled me from the story nearly every time it happened. I give it four stars but honestly would have to give the Kindle translators work a two.