There’s a house in New Orleans, in the Garden district that has slowly fallen into disrepair. It’s the residence of the core of the Mayfair family – the Mayfair witches
For generations the Talamasca has watched the Mayfair witches since their distant ancestor was burned at the stake in Scotland. Her descendants since then have passed on her dangerous legacy – a magical gift and the Lasher. A spirit of ever increasing power and dangerous, unknown motives – a creature that definitely has blood on its hands even as it put gold in the Mayfair pockets
And now, reaching the 13th generation of Mayfair witches, all that knowledge over the centuries may finally be needed to reveal the Lasher’s eventual plan.
Some books are long
Some books are very long
Some books are very very long indeed
Some books are “ye gods WHYYY?!” long
And then there’s Witching Hour which is much much longer than that.
It’s not just the length of the book – and it is a mammoth 1,200 pages – it’s how long the book feels as well. Some books can be really wrong and you still dive through them because they’re awesome – they feel short. And some short books drag on because they feel long with dense, awful writing and lack of any real pacing. Well, this was an incredibly long book THAT FELT EVEN LONGER!
The writing is so dense and so boring and so repetitive that it is an achievement to get through. It has to be said about Anne Rice that she is good at establishing time and place with evocative description – and she certainly does that in this book. But she doesn’t do it once – every place needs this description dozens of times, over and over the same points, the same places, the same times are described again and again in really long winded terms. Any evocative sense of setting is lost in the sheer overwhelming wave of unnecessary verbiage.
There’s a lot of grossly unnecessary detail. I struggled to start this book because we were treated to such a long winded, unnecessary analysis of Michael’s life before we were ever given any reason to connect to this man that I nearly gave up right there. I have no idea why we need the best part of 100 pages to describe Michael’s past or what it added to the book. But the same thing happens several times – Petyr can’t just be an agent of the Talamasca, we need to know his life story first. Some random agent in the 20s couldn’t just be a Talamasca agent, no, we needed to know his childhood, his history, how he joined the Talamasca, who he worked with… so much information for so little purpose. We can’t just get the story of Rita Mae, childhood friend of Deidre – no, we need to include far too many details about Rita Mae as well and I have absolutely no idea why I should care, why this is relevant or why I am having to read this.
To make it worse, the repetitiveness comes in as well. Rita Mae tells her story, then we have it repeated in Aaron’s narrative. A doctor tells his story about Deidre – which doesn’t really add anything unique – and then that gets repeated by Aaron. A priest tells his story, a nun tells her story – and then all these stories get repeated again. And these stories themselves are an exercise in redundancy. To show us how meticulous and creepy the Talastalkers are, we get the same information from several different sources to really drive home just how assiduously the Talastalkers have left no stone unturned in their quest to be the creepiest of creepers. So, yet MORE repetition!
And let’s have a swipe at the Talamasca here – because I’m still somewhat at a loss as to what exactly they’re doing? Trying to stop the Lasher? Well you’ve had 3 centuries of doing absolutely nothing towards that goal. The mere thought of the Lasher makes them cower in their beds. Ok, is it to help the family? Well you had evidence of generations of incest and multiple murders and didn’t feel the need to intervene. So is it just curiosity? Because that seems like a really dubious justification for centuries of riffling through someone’s rubbish and stealing their medical records. It’s not that curiosity isn’t a real motive – it is a very reasonable motive. But if that is the motive then the Talamasca are severely creepy, entitled and unethical people who feel they can intrude on someone’s life to this degree for the sake of their own nosiness. Hence my reference to Talastalkers.