One thing that remained to me about Anne Rice's writing is its atmospheric eeriness. In my readings, I could almost hear the cicadas on the trees and feel the drowsy heat of the summer afternoon. It's the cicadas that never left me, really.
I was late in the Mayfair witches bandwagon and only read it when this particular edition came out (because I like the cover). Only then was I able to understand what they have all parroted about the book and its corrupting seduction.
The Witching Hour feels like a one way trip to a dusty ominous crypt with barely a chance of surfacing unscathed, taking us to deep mystery and old secrets borne from an old family whose history reaches back in the dark medieval ages of witch hunting in Scotland to the sweeping plantations of Port-au-Prince and the historic houses in Garden District, New Orleans.
Rice has a way of stringing words that range from a hypnotic drone to a sharp hiss depending on the mood she wants to evoke. Her prose are darkly rich with a melancholic cadence that enthrall me. I love it best when words turn into minute essence of scent or manifestation of sound.
It's part classic horror, part witchcraft complete with a dysfunctional family tree where we got to be introduced to the Mayfair women of each generation. Some are more forgettable than others while a few (the handsome ones) stands out like indomitable dames. The story is riveting to me but towards the end, I'm not sure exactly what but I thought it just didn't feel right, as if a wrong choice (could be the route of the plot) was made.
Still, I find myself lingering over scenes lifted up from the beautiful imagery of her descriptions; the fierce gusts of wind when Deirdre's friend ran away to the Mayfair gate clutching a paper, the twilight on the nun's garden while someone whispers 'My beloved,' the silence of an empty house on late afternoons. It is by far the most compelling read among witch stories.
On the veranda of a great New Orleans house, now faded, a mute and fragile woman sits rocking. And the witching hour begins...
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 incest, to murder and philosophy, a family that over the ages is itself haunted by a powerful, dangerous, and seductive being.
Title: The Witching Hour (Lives of the Mayfair Witches #1)
Author: Anne Rice
Genre: Horror, Dark Fantasy
Published: 2010 (first published in 1990)
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Rating: ♨♨♨♨ ( 4 cups - Haunting and seductively delicious in its horror.)