Thursday, December 29, 2011

Dark Romance #2 ~ Anne Rice's "The Witching Hour"

***Thar be SPOILERS below!***

Brainstorming ideas for my "Dark Romances" blog series, I remembered an Anne Rice book I'd read back in the 90s, The Witching Hour. The tale was fuzzy in my mind but I recalled feeling a bit of woof from it so I thought I'd give it another read.

Be advised: this dark bit of foxy ghost-story ain't for the faint of heart. First, one might find the very idea of spectral sexing deplorable, in which case I strongly urge you to step away from this blog post, put the book out of your mind, and go read something more lighthearted or wholesome, like, say...hmmm. Actually, I got nothin' for ya, not being a big fan of things "wholesome," although I did adore the "Little House" books, which I'm not sure I'd categorize as altogether "lighthearted."

But I digress.

Still with me? Brave soul; I congratulate you on your open-mindedness (or morbid curiosity - either way, kudos). Now comes the second caution - nightmarish nookie may not turn you off but the incest in this book just might. And I don't mean a singular occurrence but repeated instances of it, over generations, in one particular family. Yuck, right? Yeah, that grossed me out (though not enough to make me quit reading it, apparently). At least it was all between consenting adults (presumably) and the action's not spelled out for the reader, so...Well, it's there, a LOT, in this book, and if that's your deal breaker, there's always Laura.

OK, so the basic premise of The Witching Hour is that this...entity is called into shape (can't rightly say "existence" as, much like constant craving, the thing seems to have always been) by a "simpleton" of a "cunning woman/witch" back in 17th Century Scotland. (God knows how the gal managed it, since she warn't all that bright, but there it is.) Suzanne hollers him into some kinda form and, 'cause she thinks it's so cute how, even though he hasn't a proper body, he can manipulate the weather and make the winds lash the tree branches around and whatnot, she calls him Lasher (which was pretty clever, for her). Well, he sure is grateful to her, and isn't she a doll, and doesn't he just adore her and shower her with gold and jewels and avenge her in the sight of her enemies? Sure he does. Which, unfortunately, brings on the witch accusations and she's burnt at the stake, which bums Lasher out so much that he raises unholy hell, wind-wise. (I reckon that calling down some rain would've proved more helpful to poor Suzanne, but hey, what do I know?) Eventually, Lasher looks on the bright side - he's still got Suzanne's luscious daughter, Deborah. And later, Deb's daughter, Charlotte. Then her daughter, and so on, and so on.

There're heaps more to the story, apart from the aforementioned squicky incest - there's a long-standing secret society, the Talamasca, that studies this family of Mayfair Witches, among other weirdnesses. There's hunky contractor Michael Curry, a San Franciscan transplant from New Orleans who drowns and envisions the call to a quest during the short time he's dead. He's brought back to life and, check it out, he can now "see" things when he touches people, and stuff. And there's Rowan, the dauntingly pretty blonde doc who just happens to be sailing her ship on the Pacific at dusk when poor Michael goes under and, luckily*, just manages to rescue him.

But wait - there's more! There's a Gothic mansion! There's New Orleans! There's Mardi Gras! Though I have to be honest - as rich and engrossing a read as The Witching Hour is, if not for Lasher, I probably wouldn't have gone back to it.

The dark romance of it all: Lasher. Woof! Homespook is tall, dark, and broody, just how I like 'em. Plus, we learn through Rowan that he's got a Scottish accent. (Hawt.) He loves him his Mayfair Witches, and his dedication to bringing them riches, joy, and *ahem* pleasure makes my toes curl. OK, sure, the dude's got an agenda and, unlike Langella's Dracula, he's not forthcoming with the gals as to what he's angling after really. But his readiness - nay, his eagerness to "love" them, his attentiveness, and his unswerving loyalty to them all just makes me melt. Even science-ruled Dr. Rowan (Mayfair, in case you hadn't already guessed) can't resist his creepy comeliness (even after she learns all about his sordid past with all her great-greats!!!!!).

When I finished this second read, as difficult as the ending was to get through (and by difficult I mean heart-breaking, effed-up, and gruesome), I deflated, knowing I'd have to wait till I could get to a bookstore to pick up the next book in the series (it's the 1st of a trilogy, y'all!). And though I do cringe at the possibility of more funky merging of the branches on this family tree, I can't not go back. Lasher awaits.

*Luckily? Yeah, right!


  1. You are a temptress, but methinks this is not for me.

  2. ^Funny, that's the sort of response my agent queries have been getting. (Minus the "temptress" bit, obviously.)

    Glad to've spared you an unpleasant read! ;-)

  3. I may have to go read the book again, as it seems that you took much more from it than I. (Mostly it was just words and just a place marker during a bad time)

  4. There are a LOT of words (over a thousand pages!). Rice can go on a bit and the story travels through different eras, which I don't normally reach for, but I did get pretty wrapped up in/obsessed with the book. I'd have liked more of Lasher, but hope to get more in the second/third books.

  5. I have loved Anne Rice's books since I was a wide eyed 17 year old girl! I have read all the Mayfair Witches chronicles as well as the Vampire books which are later interwoven with the witch's history thanks to Lasher..Great Oncle Julian (yes Mayfair) is one of the most compelling, despicable characters I have ever read..
    Have you read any of Anne Rice's Sleeping Beauty series?

    1. ^I did, also back in the 90s...I remember being amazed by the varieties of kink the gal was able to churn out! ;-)


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