The following book review is vulgar and not very literary.
Readers may peruse at their own risk. Don’t @ me.
Most people know of Anne Rice through the Vampire Chronicles. She was the one horror author I slept on. Mostly, because my forays into the horror genre started in elementary school and my mom was cool with 4th grade me reading about packs of urban wolves killing hobos and the avenging ghosts of long dead 11-year-olds but drew a line at sweltering homoerotic vampire fic.
I mean I get it, I guess.
To be fair, she didn’t have any of vampire trilogy books on her shelf and she did let me watch Interview when I was maybe 12 or 13. The book that was on her shelf was The Witching Hour and after trying to take it down approximately seven or eight times, she finally hid it from me.
“You are not old enough.”
Welp, I finally read The Witching Hour in a marathon with its buddies Lasher and Taltos last year as an adult and that’s a hard agree.
It’s not the adult content in the book that makes me cringe, but rather the part that centers around Rice’s teenage protagonist Mona.
To make sure I’m clear here: I’m cool with the middle-aged witch frig dancing with a ghost and hatching an almost full-grown, extra-tall drink of water that leaves bloody skidmarks all over the house. That I can track with…
However, I’m not cool with any narrative insinuating that a teenage character seducing her adult cousin is responsible for it because she’s DTF and/or mature. I was in full-form cringe for a good part of the last two books. I guess there was some revenge because things go from bad to worse for Michael real fast but it also felt like there was a lot of hand-wringing and shit about how his life was ruined for him. BOO friggin HOO. Sir, take several seats, you ruined your own life, keep your shit in your pants and stop abusing children.
The other thing that really fell flat was the AMAZING OMG BEST EVAR sex that Michael and Rowan seemed to be always engaged in. I mean how many times can it be THAT great? And even if it’s consistently good, when we have viewpoint characters perma-bragging it feels like we’re pushing some kind of magic-fuck rule with characters infodumping the same corny shit willy-nilly. Tight detail narration comes when the viewpoints share things are out of the ordinary. So, if it’s the same old great toe-curling every time, we really don’t have to hear the same AMAZING OMG BEST EVAR song-and-dance. It was super boring and by the end of the first book I got to where I was just skipping huge swaths of the narrative because it was cheesy af, it wasn’t info I needed, and it wasn’t even in the ballpark of believable.
However, it wasn’t all bad. In this series, Rice did a thing I previously thought impossible — she got me to not hate a Crowley proxy. Crowley proxies are a twist on the old Byronic hero (of which I also want to slingshot into a distant star), they appear in horror novels as aloof and magical men who are excused of all kinds of bad behavior because mystery and sexy and oh so wan and abracadabra! It became clear early on that Julien Mayfair was going to be one of those characters and I came to terms with the fact that I was gonna hate him, but in the end I found that the ghastly old perv still showed more signs of actual humanity than the basic, cringe-inducing secondary viewpoint trash that was Michael.
To be fair, it probably really helped that I hated Michael with the fiery intensity of a thousand suns. Rice seemed to be hustling to make Michael seem like the victim but that’s a big old nope for me. For half of the narrative Michael was boring and cheesy and the other half he was a boring, cheesy rapist, so I hated him the whole time.
It sounds like I hated it all, but I didn’t. There were a lot of things that went right for me — the family history, the generational story. That’s why I read horror, and often why I read historical fiction. I love it when the mystery is buried in the past and this story has a whole lot of that and it’s done exceptionally well.
Also, the idea of the Taltos was interesting. Yes, they are dumbass pretty boys and the Mayfairs’ universe was better off for most of them being long dead. But hey, they were more interesting than that insufferable fuckface Michael.
Overall, there was a lot of weird sex shit — some definitely crossed a line — and it was way more cringe-inducing than wolves shitting out hobo bones at a downtown construction site. But hey, I’m here to write a bad book review, not here to kink shame.