There’s a scene in Wizard And Glass from The Dark Tower, when Susan Delgado, the love of Roland Deschain’s life, meets his best friend Cuthbert Allgood (Cuthbert is later revealed to be an alternate universe “twinner” of Eddie Dean, so he’s also kinda my fave?) and she thinks to herself, “My lord, if I’d met this one first!”
That was how I felt as I breathlessly read through The Witching Hour, “my lord if I’d found this one first.”
I’d put Anne Rice’s novels off, for a long time, because my hopelessly romantic teenage self couldn’t get into Interview, I loved it, for it’s elevation and it’s camp, and it’s not really scary vibes. And as I worked through Lestat and The Queen Of The Damned, well, that was something else, it was still dreamy, not scary.
The only kind of horror I ever embraced wholeheartedly for what it is, for thrilling and making me jump, not just enjoying the formula of, was Gothic Horror. I explained it earlier this year when I read Rebecca (and The Witching Hour references Rebecca heavily) but I love how feminine it is. I love the creeping sense of dread in a decaying house, the family secrets that whisper from ghosts half forgotten, and the weight of it.
The Witching Hour is that special brand of Southern Gothic that trades on the dark family histories of old Southern families. The Mayfair Witches are held in horrifying thrall by the spirit Lasher, bringing about their own ruin through all the old devices. Deals with the devil, incest, mysterious disappearances and terrified servants.
And if I’d read this instead of the vampire stuff, when I was sixteen, I’d have been head over heals for Mrs. Rice from day one.
Rowan Mayfair and her lover Michael Curry are delightful choices of hero and heroine for a modern Gothic. Michael is an overly romantic artist, Rowan is a hard as nails, cool headed scientist, and they’re both seduced by the dream of driving the darkness out, embracing the light of family history. But of course that seduction leads to their downfall.
It’s really good, and I loved it, for all the reasons I love witch stories, and Gothic horror.
Up next is By The Numbers by Jen Lancaster, time for a little lightness!