The Witching Hour
by Anne Rice
This may be my all time favorite book. Ever. I first read this book when I was 9 years old. I skimmed through it, reading bits and pieces. As I got older, I kept picking this book up and re-reading it, gleaning more and more of the information contained within the text. So many different stories, so many different characters.
This book has it all: grand plantations, townhouses, a ghost story, family secrets, family history, witches, and a mystery to solve. This novel never fails to suck me in, transport me to the streets of the Garden District and into the Mayfair Family history. I have never been to New Orleans, but I know it would feel familiar if I visited. I would recognize the places in the novel that Anne Rice describes. It wouldn’t surprise me to see a twisted old woman sitting on a screened in porch in a rocking chair and know that she was Deirdre Mayfair, or see an old Englishman standing on a street corner and know it was Aaron Lightner. Anne Rice may not know it, but I think that she may have written one of the best books in literary history with The Witching Hour. I can’t ever get enough of it, that is the basis for a damn good novel: one that you never want to end.
This novel is epic, both in length and in the story. Dr. Rowan Mayfair discovers that she is adopted several years after the death of her adoptive parents and after the death of her biological mother, a woman she never even knew existed. Rowan is an heiress to a massive fortune and a large mansion in the Garden District in New Orleans. Along with the house and fortune, Rowan inherits a massive family with a long and twisted history and a family ghost.
All of Anne Rice’s characters throughout the novel have a tendency to leap off the page and become real for the reader. I can almost hear their voices, accents and inflections in the dialogue, as if I was watching a mini-series in my head. With each re-read of this book, I enjoy it more and more. With each turn of the very last page, I feel as though I have uncovered yet another dark secret from within the novel. A sense of accomplishment comes every time I read the last few words.
Not only have I read this novel over and over again, I have also read every other novel Anne Rice has published to date. I think this book shines brighter than any of her other novels or series. Don’t misunderstand me, I loved reading her other novels, but this one has always seemed like the best of the best. One of the characters in The Witching Hour, Michael Curry, re-reads Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations over and over again because it is his favorite book and never fails to capture his imagination. I feel the same way about The Witching Hour and read it any time I need to escape from reality.