The Witching Hour (Lives of the Mayfair Witches)

by Anne Rice | Mystery & Thrillers |
ISBN: 9780345384461 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingerishkigalwing of Salt Lake City, Utah USA on 9/18/2013
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4 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingerishkigalwing from Salt Lake City, Utah USA on Wednesday, September 18, 2013
It has been years since I read this, and while I can tell you I really liked Rice's Gothic horror, for specifics I'm going to have cut and paste from elsewhere. I liked it enough to keep on my shelf all this time, planning to reread. But bookcrossing has brought so many never read tbrs to my life (we're way beyond shelves here), that I seldom get back to one once read. So I've finally decided to send this one on to be enjoyed by another fan of the genre, via emmejo's Otherworldly Bookbox.

First book of the Mayfair witches, it IS a stand alone novel as well. The cover is a bit beat up, but the book is fine.

In this book we meet some of the trilogy's leading characters: Dr. Rowan Mayfair, a brilliant neurosurgeon who is ignorant of her family history; Michael Curry, a contractor who specializes in the restoration of old homes while dreaming of his childhood in New Orleans and yearning to return there; Aaron Lightner, a psychic scholar and member of the Talamasca; Lasher, a spirit with wicked motives; and the Mayfair Witches, an old Southern family with a taste for poetry and incest. They have a talent for secretiveness and successful business ventures. The majority of the Mayfair Witches are female (with the exception of Julien), and the family line matriarchal in lineage; i.e. families pass down the maiden name "Mayfair" instead of adopting the respective husband's last name. Rowan and Michael fall in love after she saves him from drowning, and when he decides to return to New Orleans, she follows him to learn the secrets of her past against the wishes of her adoptive mother. Aaron has studied the Mayfairs and Lasher from afar for years. He tracks down Michael to share with him the history of the family and the spirit, whom Michael has seen since he was a boy. (He was also interested in Michael because of the psychometric power he purportedly developed since waking from a near drowning experience.) What follows is a gruesome story filled with murder, incest, and betrayal. There are, however, many gaps which can only be filled in by Lasher himself.

Rowan and Michael marry despite all this, and Rowan takes on the responsibilities of the Designee of the Mayfair Legacy. She dreams of a medical center where anyone, regardless of age, race, or financial status, can be treated and healed. She conceives, and it seems as if she and Michael may escape the curse of the Legacy.

This is not to be, however, as Lasher finally reveals himself to Rowan, and explains his wish: to be made flesh so that he may walk the earth again and sets about slowly seducing Rowan through many intense intimate encounters. Secretly thinking that she can outwit this spirit, she agrees to send Michael away from the house on Christmas Day so that Lasher can fulfil his centuries-old ambition. Her plan (to bind Lasher to 'weak matter' which can be destroyed by her mental killing abilities) backfires as Lasher enters her womb, and makes himself at home in the fetus. Rowan immediately goes into labor, which is violent and bloody, and Lasher is born.

Michael returns to the house then, and seeing what has become of the child that he had desperately wished for, he throws himself at the creature, thinking to kill him. Lasher is much too strong, though, and attempts to drown Michael in the pool. Upon this second near death experience Michael loses the power in his hands. Terrified for Michael's life, Rowan drags the creature away, and they run off together.

Throughout the novel there are mentions of the "Thirteen Witches" and the Thirteenth being the "Doorway". This is in reference to Lasher selectively manipulating the Mayfair bloodline so that the thirteenth witch, Rowan, would be more powerful than all the others. Lasher required a witch as powerful as Rowan because she possessed the ability to make him live again. Lasher had possessed dead bodies with the help of Mary Beth and Julien Mayfair (two of the most powerful witches in the family), but due to limits in medical knowledge at the time, he could not reanimate the corpse and was unable to transform the bodies into Taltos form. When Lasher possesses Rowan's baby, the child effectively dies and as Lasher exchanges the cells, Rowan's diagnostic/healing abilities, along with her medical knowledge, are required to keep Lasher from dying.

Journal Entry 2 by wingerishkigalwing at Salt Lake City, Utah USA on Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Released 6 yrs ago (9/18/2013 UTC) at Salt Lake City, Utah USA

CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:

Sending off in emmejo's Otherworldly Bookbox to be enjoyed by more readers:D

Journal Entry 3 by wingk00kaburrawing at San Jose, California USA on Monday, November 04, 2013
This book enjoyed a brief stop in San Jose, CA before continuing its journey in the Otherworldly Bookbox!

Journal Entry 4 by wingemmejowing at Trumansburg, New York USA on Monday, May 19, 2014
This book came home with The Otherworldly Bookbox.

Journal Entry 5 by wingemmejowing at Trumansburg, New York USA on Thursday, June 18, 2015
erishkigal gave an in-depth plot summery, so I won't repeat it. I found this an engaging modern Gothic novel, and it was one of the better pieces of Rice's writing that I've read. The creeping tension and uncertainty keep you turning pages and the two main characters (three if you count Lasher!) create an interesting dynamic. I liked the historical sections, presented as reports by a secret society, although (like most of Rice's writing, in my experience) it gets a little too grandiose and self-important. The descriptive portions of the novel tend to turn very purple, sometimes to the point of nonsensicalness, self-contradiction or interference in the action, but I find this more forgivable in the Gothic genre.

NOTE: The inner front cover (behind the cut-out) had fallen out when I started reading, so I taped it back in.

Journal Entry 6 by wingemmejowing at Trumansburg, New York USA on Friday, June 19, 2015

Released 4 yrs ago (6/19/2015 UTC) at Trumansburg, New York USA

CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:

This book is one of the starting volumes for Round II of The Otherworldly Bookbook

Journal Entry 7 by wingGoryDetailswing at Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Friday, July 03, 2015
I've enjoyed several of Rice's novels, but haven't read this one before, so I'm claiming it from the box.

Later: I've visited New Orleans and San Francisco, and found the book's scenes in both locations very evocative indeed - even though poor Michael's near-drowning experience rather dimmed the luster of the beautiful Cliff House area for him {wry grin}. The steamy decay of most of the New Orleans scenes was conveyed very well, a mix of tropical beauty, Gothic melancholy, and outright horrifying dissolution...

The story starts out with a look at the Mayfair clan through the eyes of a psychiatrist, including the drugged-into-a-coma Deirdre, one of many tragic characters in this story. He also meets Aaron Lightner, the representative of the Talamasca, and provides an account of his experiences with the "brown-eyed man", a surprisingly non-descript character for an Anne Rice book, though of course the reasons for this make perfect sense down the line. I liked the ghostly/mysterious elements here, though the "now you see him, now you don't" bit got a little repetitive - we get it already.

Once the story proper kicked in, with the reunion - and near-immediate falling-in-love - of Michael and Rowan, I found myself... losing interest. So much history of violence, tragedy, mystery, hauntings (real or imagined) - and with characters who didn't ring true for me, so I couldn't sympathize with them properly. When I found myself skimming to see when Lasher would turn up again, and when I found myself more interested in the Talamasca infodump than in the main characters' relationship, I decided this wasn't the book for me. I did skim further and faster just to see how it turned out, and lo! it's quite horrifying and disastrous all around, so... yay?

As a depiction of a long-inbred, power-hungry yet desperate deep-South family, the story has a lot going for it, but I can't say I enjoyed the bits I read. Perhaps in part it's due to the door-stopper nature of this book; earlier Rice works were more concise. Anyway, I am glad I had a chance to try it, and will hope that it finds a more appreciative reader!

[There's a TV Tropes page on the "Mayfair Witches" novels, of which this is the first.]

Journal Entry 8 by wingGoryDetailswing at Monument Square in Hollis, New Hampshire USA on Friday, July 10, 2015

Released 4 yrs ago (7/10/2015 UTC) at Monument Square in Hollis, New Hampshire USA

WILD RELEASE NOTES:

I left this book on a bench near the old cemetery next to Monument Square at around 3 or so; hope the finder enjoys it!

*** Released as part of the 2015 Keep Them Moving release challenge. ***

*** Released for the 2015 Allergic to A challenge. ***

*** Released for the 2015 Be SENSible release challenge, for the embedded "itch" in the title. ***

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