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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.
Published: Random House Publishing Group an imprint of Random House Publishing Group on
ISBN: 9780307575951
List price: $8.99
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There are parts of this book that are intriguing, there are parts of this book that drag. Parts of it were riveting. Ms. Rice could have done with a bit more editing, however, all said, I did like this book. The one thing that irritates the life out of me with books by Anne Rice - she doesn't know how to write an ending. And this is no exception. I read this on the advice of a friend, and I remember asking how it would turn out (because I was so afraid of being disappointed). And I was. The history of the witches was very interesting, even when the story stopped to jump into the backstory. This could easily have been two books. The bottom line? I liked it enough to pick up the sequel - Lasher.more
Paranormal and family ties. Very well written in the history of a family of witches.more
Anne Rice's prodigious and melodramatic Gothic saga "The Witching Hour" introduces the ancient clan of Mayfair witches, and the diabolic umbra Lasher who twists and torments the Mayfairs across centuries and continents in his unholy quest to become flesh. While the book has at least its fair share of conventional "spooky" ingredients, Rice's command of foreboding mood and tone throughout the novel is as impressive as it is appropriate to the dark, erotic and ultimately desperate tale she tells. Her writing is lush in scene and setting, as well as in exposing her myriad characters' considerable strengths and tragic failings. Particularly remarkable is her sensuous depiction of New Orleans -- in significant ways the book is nothing less than a letter of devotion to a voluptuous city she knows well and loves deeply, raising the city itself from merely a place where things happen to make it instead one of the book's most notable characters. This is an entrancing book, brimming with both sweeping historical narrative and present-day cautionary themes of the incurable devastation inevitably wrought by unchecked Oedipal lusts and hubristic familial sins. "The Witching Hour" is a grand and elegant fable well told, and worth reading.more
Its been some time since I rad Anne Rice's work, and I was not disappointed in the least. She has woven and amazing detailed story, reaching across centuries, as is her special gift. Her tale of love, despair, growth, power, and family draws the reader in to her amazing depth, detail, and history, as only the best authors can.A line of witches, gifts passed down from generation to generation, but there is always a price. For many of the Mayfair women, it is their sanity. Once in a while one is strong enough to survive, but never to end the evil that backs the power. Until Rowan Mayfair, who has a chance from birth to stop it, goring up far from the family, her parents, the gift, or curse unknown to her for years. A brilliant neurosurgeon, she is one of the best in her field, but what makes her so successful, medical talent, or some gift she has? The question really arise when she rescues a drowning man in San Fransisco bay one night, and resuscitates him. He returns to the world of the living with a gift, and an urge to do something, but his memory keeps him from knowing what. As all tales go, the two fall for each other, quite hard, once their paths cross again. Fate draws them together, and then back to New Orleans, to put Rowan back in the middle of the family legacy which is hers. With her love Michael, is she strong enough to at last vanquish the evil that has plagued her family for centuries?more
I first read this book when I was a young teenager. I have since tried so many times to pick this up and reread it. I have finally accomplished that (yay me!), but I have to admit to disappointment. 1000 pages of build up, only to REALLY not like the ending. I don't know when I will pick up Lasher, but I think I will hold off for a bit. This book was a haul, and I am not convinced that it was worth it. Loved it as a teenager, not so much as an adult.more
Three and a half stars, really. When I began reading this book, I was in the mood for just such a story that can only be woven with the intricate and delicate details that Anne Rice commands, that make the story live and breathe. However, once I was lured in, not even halfway through, I suddenly felt like a junkie who had his stash taken away from him only to be replaced by a weaker, less satisfying drug.So as not to "spoil" the story for anyone who hasn't read it, I'll use another book for an analogy: Harry Potter. Imagine reading the first book of the Harry Potter series, and you're learning as Harry's learning that he is a wizard and is going to Hogwarts, and when he gets there, you're excited and curious to find out what his experiences are going to be like there, what magic he will learn, etc., but suddenly the book heads into "A Hogwarts History" rather than continuing on with Harry's journey. Not to downplay the importance and interesting history of the Mayfair witches, because some of the stories were fascinating, it just felt like that could have been a separate book. I literally felt as though I had put down one book and picked up another that I wasn't ready for yet, because I wanted to know how the story proceeded that was first laid out.Also, as much as the lead character was built up to being the strongest of her line, she was hard to sympathize with toward the end. Perhaps my expectations for her were too idealized.All in all, it is worth the read for those who enjoy the supernatural, and Anne Rice never disappoints when it comes to pulling you into the story through elaborate description. The faint scent of those New Orleans flowers in the heat still seems to be lingering...more
Loved this book completely! The characters are intriguing and alluring, the story is rich and varied. The time span is very impressive. I could clearly imagine these characters living their amazing and often dark lives as though they were real people. I think this in one of Rice's best! A real page-turner.more
Good, but not as great as her vampire books.more
One of my all time faves. I love the way the it is written from different POV and the distant characterization of Jullian and Stella.more
eh good but soooooooooooooooooooooooooo long!!! couldve lost about half the book!more
This I guess is the first book of 3 for the Mayfair Witches story.Honesty I am so unimpressed by this one there would be no point in readingthe others. This book went from extremely boring to extremely detailed on items and ideas that have nothing to do with the main story. It seemed like shejust wanted to fill pages. The whole story goes over 13 generations of Mayfaor witches and all their random stories all leading up to the birth of Rowan the 13th Mayfair witch. Throughout the entire book a demon-esk creature shows up and accompanies all the main Mayfiar witche of each generation. This creature named Lasher, is a sociopath. You'll see what I mean if you ever read this book. The book has incest, murder, and other things that are just plain disturbing. In here you will also be indruduced to Michael a man who went through a near deathexperience, of almost drowning in the ocean, and ended up with a strange ability to touch items with his hands and be able to see "memories" of the objects.I dont recommend the book at all but if you happen to read it anyway be preparedto be bored to tears for hundreds of pages then thoroughly grossed out for one ofthe last chapters. This was my second attempt at reading an Ann Rice novel and I haveto say that it'll probably be last.more
This was the first Anne Rice book I read and I was not disappointed. This was an amazing book about the Mayfair witches and I couldn't quit turning the pages.more
#2 Favorite. Southern Gothic at its finest, it has every element one could wish for.  more
I actually read Lasher first, it was on a whim when I was in the bookstore looking for something new to read. I had never read Anne Rice before, but was a big fan of Stephen King and was looking for something in that section. Something made me buy it but I did not have any idea it was the second in a trilogy. I loved it!!! Of corse it did not take me long to figure out the first book was the Witching Hour and loved it as well! Since then I have read (almost) all of Anne Rice's novels. I love them all, but truly the lives of the Mayfair witches are the best.more
This is an excllent book- it's almost a thousend pages but that's a good thing because you won't want to put it down. Ann Rice weaves the tale of the Mayfair Witches, how they came to be and what's in store for them. The amazing thing in this book is that she tells the same stroy in 3 different points of view. This is the 1st installmant in a trilogy and i highly reccomend the other books as wellmore
Epic tale spanning four centuries of the large and largely incestious Mayfair family.Very indepth character study with a lot of book space given over to the highly descriptive backstory.I personally loved it, but can understand that some readers may be turned of by the lanquid pace.The ending is shocking and brilliant and sets itself up perfectly for the next book in the series.My favourite Rice so far (alongside Memnoch the Devil).more
Loved this book! I loved how Rice made the setting so real - I feel like I could go to New Orleans and know my way around from her descriptions. The Mayfair dynasty of witches were interesting and Rowan and Michael were characters that I really grew to care about.more
The series weaves a great tale of a humble protaganist thrown into an old family with a very strange past that leads him on a path of incredible discovery.more
The first in an engrosing series about a family of witches : The Mayfair Witches. The history was so fascinating and well written that I had a hard time putting this one down. The story is intriguing and the characters are amazing. Really a great book!more
This book is an incredible read. It's pretty long, over a thousand pages, but the story itself is addictive. The way that Rice sets this book up makes you feel almost privileged to be reading what you are, an gets very, very detailed. I do admit that although I still sometimes lose track of who is who's mom or dad, what so-and-so looked like, and all the other intricate details provided, I could re read this book a hundred times and still feel mesmerized.more
My favorite book ever. Just started reading it for the second time. Although it's a long book, you won't be able to put it down. You begin to feel you know all these women involved in the story and you get addicted. Fabulous.more
This is tied for my favorite Anne Rice book. Other fav is Interview with the Vampire. You can't help but love the main character in this book, Rowan, who is a reluctant witch. She eventually comes to grips with her heritage and then the fun begins. This is a page-turner, and has all the elements you could want in an exciting story.more
My favorite Anne Book. Excellent. One of the biggest books I have read. I stand in awe of it's scope, but it is well worth it because it brings the goods. The other two in the series are good reads if you want to complete the arc (read the second, Lasher, at least), but this is well above them I think. Read it 10 years ago and some of the images are still with me.more
Yes occasionally the information about the past was interesting but there were times that I really wanted the Readers Digest version of this story of a family haunted by a spirit that has plans for them and researched by a mysterious group (the Talamasca) who are trying to preserve good.It's interesting and I'm not sorry I read it but I really wasn't all that impressed overall with it. I agree with all Darla has to say about it.more
At first I had to fight my way through this large book, however something changed nearly halfway through. I did not want this book to end and had to fight to read a little bit slower to make it last longer! I couldn't wait to read more about the Mayfair witches and to this day I will Anne Rice was releasing more material of this caliber!more
“The Witching Hour” is the story of the Mayfair Witches, beginning in the present, then shifting to the past through the unique device of a historical record gathered and maintained by the mysterious Talamasca. The Talamasca is an organization who studies the supernatural and has since before the time of the Templars. The Mayfairs are powerful witches, attended by a spirit by the name of Lasher who both controls and is controlled by the witches. The narrative finally finds its way back to the present for the final confrontation with Lasher, which doesn’t actually go the way the reader would expect. There is plenty of story left for several sequels, which are already in print. Though it takes some amount of pages for one to become really engaged in this story, once it happens, one is loathe to quit reading. I quite look forward to the continuing tale of this enthralling family.more
Anne Rice sounds her talent in The Witching Hour. This massive book looks intimidating but is addictive. I fell in love within the first twenty pages and devoured this book. The novel follows the story of the family Mayfair, through thirteen generations- each more interesting than the last.more
Read all 53 reviews

Reviews

There are parts of this book that are intriguing, there are parts of this book that drag. Parts of it were riveting. Ms. Rice could have done with a bit more editing, however, all said, I did like this book. The one thing that irritates the life out of me with books by Anne Rice - she doesn't know how to write an ending. And this is no exception. I read this on the advice of a friend, and I remember asking how it would turn out (because I was so afraid of being disappointed). And I was. The history of the witches was very interesting, even when the story stopped to jump into the backstory. This could easily have been two books. The bottom line? I liked it enough to pick up the sequel - Lasher.more
Paranormal and family ties. Very well written in the history of a family of witches.more
Anne Rice's prodigious and melodramatic Gothic saga "The Witching Hour" introduces the ancient clan of Mayfair witches, and the diabolic umbra Lasher who twists and torments the Mayfairs across centuries and continents in his unholy quest to become flesh. While the book has at least its fair share of conventional "spooky" ingredients, Rice's command of foreboding mood and tone throughout the novel is as impressive as it is appropriate to the dark, erotic and ultimately desperate tale she tells. Her writing is lush in scene and setting, as well as in exposing her myriad characters' considerable strengths and tragic failings. Particularly remarkable is her sensuous depiction of New Orleans -- in significant ways the book is nothing less than a letter of devotion to a voluptuous city she knows well and loves deeply, raising the city itself from merely a place where things happen to make it instead one of the book's most notable characters. This is an entrancing book, brimming with both sweeping historical narrative and present-day cautionary themes of the incurable devastation inevitably wrought by unchecked Oedipal lusts and hubristic familial sins. "The Witching Hour" is a grand and elegant fable well told, and worth reading.more
Its been some time since I rad Anne Rice's work, and I was not disappointed in the least. She has woven and amazing detailed story, reaching across centuries, as is her special gift. Her tale of love, despair, growth, power, and family draws the reader in to her amazing depth, detail, and history, as only the best authors can.A line of witches, gifts passed down from generation to generation, but there is always a price. For many of the Mayfair women, it is their sanity. Once in a while one is strong enough to survive, but never to end the evil that backs the power. Until Rowan Mayfair, who has a chance from birth to stop it, goring up far from the family, her parents, the gift, or curse unknown to her for years. A brilliant neurosurgeon, she is one of the best in her field, but what makes her so successful, medical talent, or some gift she has? The question really arise when she rescues a drowning man in San Fransisco bay one night, and resuscitates him. He returns to the world of the living with a gift, and an urge to do something, but his memory keeps him from knowing what. As all tales go, the two fall for each other, quite hard, once their paths cross again. Fate draws them together, and then back to New Orleans, to put Rowan back in the middle of the family legacy which is hers. With her love Michael, is she strong enough to at last vanquish the evil that has plagued her family for centuries?more
I first read this book when I was a young teenager. I have since tried so many times to pick this up and reread it. I have finally accomplished that (yay me!), but I have to admit to disappointment. 1000 pages of build up, only to REALLY not like the ending. I don't know when I will pick up Lasher, but I think I will hold off for a bit. This book was a haul, and I am not convinced that it was worth it. Loved it as a teenager, not so much as an adult.more
Three and a half stars, really. When I began reading this book, I was in the mood for just such a story that can only be woven with the intricate and delicate details that Anne Rice commands, that make the story live and breathe. However, once I was lured in, not even halfway through, I suddenly felt like a junkie who had his stash taken away from him only to be replaced by a weaker, less satisfying drug.So as not to "spoil" the story for anyone who hasn't read it, I'll use another book for an analogy: Harry Potter. Imagine reading the first book of the Harry Potter series, and you're learning as Harry's learning that he is a wizard and is going to Hogwarts, and when he gets there, you're excited and curious to find out what his experiences are going to be like there, what magic he will learn, etc., but suddenly the book heads into "A Hogwarts History" rather than continuing on with Harry's journey. Not to downplay the importance and interesting history of the Mayfair witches, because some of the stories were fascinating, it just felt like that could have been a separate book. I literally felt as though I had put down one book and picked up another that I wasn't ready for yet, because I wanted to know how the story proceeded that was first laid out.Also, as much as the lead character was built up to being the strongest of her line, she was hard to sympathize with toward the end. Perhaps my expectations for her were too idealized.All in all, it is worth the read for those who enjoy the supernatural, and Anne Rice never disappoints when it comes to pulling you into the story through elaborate description. The faint scent of those New Orleans flowers in the heat still seems to be lingering...more
Loved this book completely! The characters are intriguing and alluring, the story is rich and varied. The time span is very impressive. I could clearly imagine these characters living their amazing and often dark lives as though they were real people. I think this in one of Rice's best! A real page-turner.more
Good, but not as great as her vampire books.more
One of my all time faves. I love the way the it is written from different POV and the distant characterization of Jullian and Stella.more
eh good but soooooooooooooooooooooooooo long!!! couldve lost about half the book!more
This I guess is the first book of 3 for the Mayfair Witches story.Honesty I am so unimpressed by this one there would be no point in readingthe others. This book went from extremely boring to extremely detailed on items and ideas that have nothing to do with the main story. It seemed like shejust wanted to fill pages. The whole story goes over 13 generations of Mayfaor witches and all their random stories all leading up to the birth of Rowan the 13th Mayfair witch. Throughout the entire book a demon-esk creature shows up and accompanies all the main Mayfiar witche of each generation. This creature named Lasher, is a sociopath. You'll see what I mean if you ever read this book. The book has incest, murder, and other things that are just plain disturbing. In here you will also be indruduced to Michael a man who went through a near deathexperience, of almost drowning in the ocean, and ended up with a strange ability to touch items with his hands and be able to see "memories" of the objects.I dont recommend the book at all but if you happen to read it anyway be preparedto be bored to tears for hundreds of pages then thoroughly grossed out for one ofthe last chapters. This was my second attempt at reading an Ann Rice novel and I haveto say that it'll probably be last.more
This was the first Anne Rice book I read and I was not disappointed. This was an amazing book about the Mayfair witches and I couldn't quit turning the pages.more
#2 Favorite. Southern Gothic at its finest, it has every element one could wish for.  more
I actually read Lasher first, it was on a whim when I was in the bookstore looking for something new to read. I had never read Anne Rice before, but was a big fan of Stephen King and was looking for something in that section. Something made me buy it but I did not have any idea it was the second in a trilogy. I loved it!!! Of corse it did not take me long to figure out the first book was the Witching Hour and loved it as well! Since then I have read (almost) all of Anne Rice's novels. I love them all, but truly the lives of the Mayfair witches are the best.more
This is an excllent book- it's almost a thousend pages but that's a good thing because you won't want to put it down. Ann Rice weaves the tale of the Mayfair Witches, how they came to be and what's in store for them. The amazing thing in this book is that she tells the same stroy in 3 different points of view. This is the 1st installmant in a trilogy and i highly reccomend the other books as wellmore
Epic tale spanning four centuries of the large and largely incestious Mayfair family.Very indepth character study with a lot of book space given over to the highly descriptive backstory.I personally loved it, but can understand that some readers may be turned of by the lanquid pace.The ending is shocking and brilliant and sets itself up perfectly for the next book in the series.My favourite Rice so far (alongside Memnoch the Devil).more
Loved this book! I loved how Rice made the setting so real - I feel like I could go to New Orleans and know my way around from her descriptions. The Mayfair dynasty of witches were interesting and Rowan and Michael were characters that I really grew to care about.more
The series weaves a great tale of a humble protaganist thrown into an old family with a very strange past that leads him on a path of incredible discovery.more
The first in an engrosing series about a family of witches : The Mayfair Witches. The history was so fascinating and well written that I had a hard time putting this one down. The story is intriguing and the characters are amazing. Really a great book!more
This book is an incredible read. It's pretty long, over a thousand pages, but the story itself is addictive. The way that Rice sets this book up makes you feel almost privileged to be reading what you are, an gets very, very detailed. I do admit that although I still sometimes lose track of who is who's mom or dad, what so-and-so looked like, and all the other intricate details provided, I could re read this book a hundred times and still feel mesmerized.more
My favorite book ever. Just started reading it for the second time. Although it's a long book, you won't be able to put it down. You begin to feel you know all these women involved in the story and you get addicted. Fabulous.more
This is tied for my favorite Anne Rice book. Other fav is Interview with the Vampire. You can't help but love the main character in this book, Rowan, who is a reluctant witch. She eventually comes to grips with her heritage and then the fun begins. This is a page-turner, and has all the elements you could want in an exciting story.more
My favorite Anne Book. Excellent. One of the biggest books I have read. I stand in awe of it's scope, but it is well worth it because it brings the goods. The other two in the series are good reads if you want to complete the arc (read the second, Lasher, at least), but this is well above them I think. Read it 10 years ago and some of the images are still with me.more
Yes occasionally the information about the past was interesting but there were times that I really wanted the Readers Digest version of this story of a family haunted by a spirit that has plans for them and researched by a mysterious group (the Talamasca) who are trying to preserve good.It's interesting and I'm not sorry I read it but I really wasn't all that impressed overall with it. I agree with all Darla has to say about it.more
At first I had to fight my way through this large book, however something changed nearly halfway through. I did not want this book to end and had to fight to read a little bit slower to make it last longer! I couldn't wait to read more about the Mayfair witches and to this day I will Anne Rice was releasing more material of this caliber!more
“The Witching Hour” is the story of the Mayfair Witches, beginning in the present, then shifting to the past through the unique device of a historical record gathered and maintained by the mysterious Talamasca. The Talamasca is an organization who studies the supernatural and has since before the time of the Templars. The Mayfairs are powerful witches, attended by a spirit by the name of Lasher who both controls and is controlled by the witches. The narrative finally finds its way back to the present for the final confrontation with Lasher, which doesn’t actually go the way the reader would expect. There is plenty of story left for several sequels, which are already in print. Though it takes some amount of pages for one to become really engaged in this story, once it happens, one is loathe to quit reading. I quite look forward to the continuing tale of this enthralling family.more
Anne Rice sounds her talent in The Witching Hour. This massive book looks intimidating but is addictive. I fell in love within the first twenty pages and devoured this book. The novel follows the story of the family Mayfair, through thirteen generations- each more interesting than the last.more
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