Thursday, January 26, 2017

Lasher by Anne Rice

Continuing my quest to reread The Mayfair Witches Trilogy, I'm realizing most of what I remembered about the books was all in The Witching Hour. It's nice to be surprised during a reread, but it's also disappointing. Most of the excitement I felt reading The Witching Hour fizzed out during my reread of Lasher.

Picking up where we ended in the previous book, Lasher is no longer a supernatural ghost-like being, he's human, having hijacked the unborn fetus of Rowan Mayfair, the strongest witch in the long Mayfair line. Lasher has essentially been inbreeding witches within the family for generations to finally have a witch who could help him become mortal. After his "birth" he quickly grows to adulthood, forces Rowan to run off with him, and begins working toward his ultimate goal - propagation.  He's not totally human, and has grand plans to repopulate the earth with his own breed. The catch, creatures like him can only be born from witches, from certain witches. All other women that conceive, die.

All the while, back in New Orleans, the Mayfair family is trying to find Rowan. Michael, Rowan's husband is trying to heal from a brutal battle with Lasher and subsequent heart attack, stifling the desire to tear out into the world and track his wife down. We also get personal with Mona Mayfair, a child in the family, whose powers rival Rowan's. Mona seems to be an unexpected side-effect to so much inbreeding in the family, a witch that popped up under Lasher's nose while he was cultivating Rowan. I like Mona because she's smart and because she takes the time to learn. She's a child who doesn't rely on any adult to take care of her. She's in charge of her own destiny.

So, all of this is going on and it feels like enough, but then comes backstory. True, we needed to have some holes filled in about Lasher's history and origins, but all of this comes out during two very long flashbacks, full of unnecessary detail. I assume Rice was trying to fill out the character of Lasher from his beginning, but it's almost too much. It dilutes the action going on in the present. It's great to eventually understand the origins of Lasher and the mythology around what type of being he actually is, a Taltos, but the overwhelming volume of detail detracts from the urgency we're faced with as Lasher tries to breed.

Eventually, Lasher tells his own story, going way back to his beginning, what turns out to be his first time as a human. It's a long and pious story that really does nothing to change your mind about what you think of the character. You still hate him. You still realize he's unemotionally evolved and dangerous, and you still want him to die. He could have just explained the history of the Taltos in one paragraph rather than going on for page after page.

I also found the ending a bit abrupt and not totally in line with the tone of the rest of the book. It made me not so excited to move on to the third book (but I will eventually.)

This was the first, adult, supernatural series I read, so I have my loyalties to it, but it's definitely not blowing me away like I remember it doing over 15 years ago.