Sure it was over 1,000 pages and it took almost 200 pages to hit the “OMG I have to finish reading this” point, but it definitely shouldn’t have taken this long. It was very well written and the story was fascinating. Unfortunately, due to work and trying to edit my podcast it just took me forever.
You might be wondering why I didn’t just give up? Well, that’s complicated you see. A certain someone, who recommended Last Summer and The Bitterweed Path, also recommended this and I promised I would read at least one book every other month that he recommended. And like I said above, it wasn’t a bad book, it probably just wasn’t the best time for me to read this particular book. I’m definitely glad I read it and will read the sequels to complete the series and find out WTF happened!
Aside from work being crazy, I struggled to get into this book for two reasons: Rice’s loquaciousness and the chapter lengths. In the first two hundred pages it felt like we only met three characters, Rowan, Michael and Aaron (and a few nameless characters). Meeting a few characters isn’t a bad thing, but when it gets to the point where you know every thought on every decision, and not historical just current (see next paragraph, the writing just wears you down. When you add in that the majority of chapters throughout the book average 30-45 pages (if not more!), you can imagine how that adds to your reading time.
[See RANDOM ASIDE at the end of this post about my “woe is me” reading situation for this book.]
Where Rice’s loquaciousness really came in handy, and where I picked up a lot of speed when I got to it, was Part 2 where Rice delves into the history of the Mayfair witches. This is the longest section by far and it tells the story of the Mayfair’s from their founding in Scotland up to modern-day. It covered hundreds of years and 12 generations of Mayfairs and their trials and tribulations in Europe and the new world.There are numerous holes filled in later in the story, but this was the most fascinating aspect of the story. I think this is a result of it being told in two different narrators voices and in brief sets of letters, recaps and anthologies, versus the long-winded opening chapters. SPOILER IN NEXT PARAGRAPH SO SKIP IT IF YOU DON’T WANT TO GET A CLUE.
The highlight of the book, even though I loved the history, was the ending! It was fantastically gory and even though I figured out what was coming with about 200 pages left it was so visceral I’ll think about it for a while. I do have to wonder if she took some inspiration from Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby, but it was just weird ans slightly obscene when added to the other scenes.
As great as the ending was, I’m still not sure I’m satisfied. I spent more than 1000 pages with the Mayfair family from their founding all the way to their teleological descendant, Rowan and I felt like Rice left us hanging. She’d better wrap it up nicely in Lasher and Taltos because if she doesn’t I will make no efforts in the future to read Anne Rice again.
This was my first experience with Rice and her writing is incredible! She’s clearly well read and appreciates books as entities,
“Ah, Stefan, give me a man or woman who has read a thousand books and you give me an interesting companion. Give me a man or woman who has read perhaps three and you give me a dangerous enemy indeed.” (277)
“No book has the power of a burned book!” (697)
She appreciates history and the fantastical nature of everyday life. And she writes everyday life as it is, not how she wants it to be. She wrote this in 1990 and included numerous LGBT characters and had part of it set in the Castro (gay-borhood) of San Francisco. She wasn’t afraid, 15 years ago, to take on topics like incest and rape and to bring vivid sex scenes to mainstream audiences. (Yes I know she wrote erotica [Wikipedia link] as A.N. Roquelaure, but still!)
Recommendation: As much as I struggled and as long as this novel is, I would definitely recommend it. It was very well written and worth the slog! I can only imagine how eerie and scary her vampire novels are, knowing how creepy this one got. I have vague recollections of having seen part of Interview with the Vampire, but not much else.
Opening Line: “The doctor woke up afraid.”
Closing Line: “Come home Rowan. I’m waiting.” (Whited out to avoid spoilers.)
It may not seem like much, but think about it: when you have a book that has smaller chapters or at least subsections within chapters it’s a lot easier to read. You’re able to read small snippets here and there and you don’t have to worry about remembering specific instances the next time you pick up the book.
It may just be my reading style, but because I’m adjusting to a new commute (shorter) and to sharing a lot of my reading time, my reading style has to adjust. I can’t sit and read a 30-45 page chapter without being interrupted as often as I used to!