fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsbook review Anne Rice Lasher The Lives of the Mayfair WitchesLasher by Anne Rice

As part of Anne Rice‘s The Lives of the Mayfair Witches trilogy, this installment comes after The Witching Hour in which we were introduced to three major concepts: a secret organisation called the Talamasca (best described as a supernatural FBI), a powerful family of witches known as the Mayfairs, and a strange spirit called Lasher that has haunted generations of Mayfairs, and been investigated by the Talamasca for centuries.

In the previous novel Rowan Mayfair, the latest matriarch of the Mayfair clan, rediscovered her roots and returned to her ancestral home in New Orleans. Marrying Michael Curry (who by strange coincidence has connections to both her and her circumstances), and learning about her heritage (which was documented diligently by the Talamasca), she eventually met the spirit Lasher and devised a way for him to be reborn once more into the world. Lasher picks up right where it left off, after Rowan and Lasher fled New Orleans on Christmas Day, leaving Michael and the rest of her family in despair over her disappearance.

But Rowan has more than she bargained for in returning Lasher to the world. Lasher is a species known as the Taltos, beings reincarnated as full-grown creatures and now wants nothing more than to populate the world with his own children. Knowing that a Taltos can be born only to another Taltos or to a witch (defined by a man or woman with a unique number of chromosomes; an example of Rice’s imaginative blending of science and the supernatural), Lasher seeks to impregnate Rowan as well as several other women in the Mayfair family. Terrified, the family call their relatives all together whilst Aaron Lighter, a member of the Talamasca, grows concerned over the changing agenda of the organisation he’s devoted his life to.

Whilst Lasher drags Rowan across the world, Michael mourns for his wife and bonds with the thirteen-year old Mona Mayfair. In Rowan’s absence, Mona is the next designee for the family fortune and the young girl has her sights set on Michael. Within the ancient house on First Street, the two of them are visited by the spirit of Mayfair ancestor Julien (introduced via the Talasmasca file in the previous novel) who recounts his own experiences with the spirit and the prophecy Michael needs in order to finally destroy it.

Lasher picks up nicely from where The Witching Hour left off, expanding on both the past and present state of things. While we discover more of Lasher’s plans and the true underlying motivation of the centuries-old Talamasca, we also get several extensive flashbacks of Lasher’s past, both in relation to the Mayfairs and beyond that, to before he was called up by Suzanne. Rice creates a fascinating mythology built around the idea of the Taltos, mingling in historical fact and religious belief which are all meticulously detailed.

Although the character of Rowan is somewhat diminished considering the circumstances she finds herself in, Lasher (as the title suggests) comes to the fore as a major presence. Terrible, dangerous, sympathetic and mysterious, Lasher almost — almost! — surpasses Lestat as Rice’s most intriguing, vivid character. The fact that a variety of characters all have such differing opinions on his character makes him all the more difficult to pin down; when the story ends, we’re still not entirely sure who or what he was despite spending so much time reading about him. As such, he makes a fascinating read; forever changing his opinions, loving the sound of rhyme, nervous of the colour red — he is a constantly interesting subject, and thus the choice that the other characters face (whether to destroy him or not) comes across as truly problematic. Would you kill him?

The care and detail that Rice puts into her work is remarkable, though in form this novel is considerably different from The Witching Hour. The previous novel was languorous and elusive, with a considerable middle segment devoted to the journals of the Talamasca. Lasher has more to do with filling in the gaps of this report and uncovering several of the mysteries that it speculated on, as well as concentrating more on a present-day narrative. Though I enjoyed The Witching Hour more, Lasher is a strong follow-up, and I particularly enjoyed the reappearances of the Talamasca throughout history, and the hints that its motto: “watch and wait” is not as passive as it has previously seen.

The Lives of the Mayfair Witches — (1990-1994) Publisher: Demonstrating once again her gift for spellbinding storytelling, Anne Rice makes real a family of witches — a family given to poetry and incest, to murder and philosophy, a family that is itself haunted by a powerful, dangerous and seductive being.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsAnne Rice Mayfair Witches 1. The Witching Hour 2. Lasher 3. Taltos


  • Rebecca Fisher

    REBECCA FISHER, with us since January 2008, earned a Masters degree in literature at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Her thesis included a comparison of how C.S. Lewis and Philip Pullman each use the idea of mankind’s Fall from Grace to structure the worldviews presented in their fantasy series. Rebecca is a firm believer that fantasy books written for children can be just as meaningful, well-written and enjoyable as those for adults, and in some cases, even more so. Rebecca lives in New Zealand. She is the winner of the 2015 Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best SFF Fan Writer.