fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsbook review Anne Rice TaltosTaltos by Anne Rice

The problem with this final installment in The Lives of the Mayfair Witches, is that the main plot (and most of its subplots) were begun in The Witching Hour and wrapped up neatly in its sequel Lasher. In these two previous books, Doctor Rowan Mayfair has returned to her family, discovered her witch heritage, married Michael Curry, come into contact with an organisation called the Talamasca (best described as a supernatural detective agency) unleashed the spirit Lasher on the world and — together with her husband — stopped him from achieving his goal of populating the world with his own species: the Taltos. What more was there to tell?

Well, there were a couple of loose threads, but nothing that couldn’t have been cleared up in Lasher, and nothing that takes a whole book to complete. There is a conspiracy within the Talamasca that is uncovered and dealt with (unfortunately after the death of a beloved character who is killed needlessly within the first few chapters of the book) and there are unexpected repercussions to Michael’s one-night stand with Mona Mayfair, the thirteen year old designee of the family fortune.

But as these issues need no more than a few chapters to be dealt with, Rice introduces another character: Ashlar Templeton. It turns out that the birth of Lasher back into the world wasn’t that big a deal after all, as Ashlar is also a Taltos: a rich, handsome, powerful manufacturer of dolls that is the individual responsible for the conversion of his species to Christianity in the 13th century and the schism between his people that followed. Contacting Rowan and Michael after hearing of the dubious behaviour of the Talamasca, he recounts the entire history of the Taltos race. Whereas The Witching Hour recounted the fascinating history of the Mayfair family, and Lasher explored the spirit’s own dark history, Ashlar’s story takes us further back still, to the earliest memories of the Taltos people and their dealings with humanity. It is interesting stuff, but not nearly as fascinating as the Mayfairs and Lasher, both of which are largely ignored in this text.

Ashlar’s story takes up a large bulk of the book; in fact, its astonishing how little is done in this book; it is mainly made up of characters talking and thinking. The rest is just not as interesting, mainly because characters and their motivations are strangely changed from what we have been previously led to believe. Mona Mayfair — supposedly headstrong and wild, but here strangely muted — deals with her Taltos pregnancy by running away with her newfound cousin Mary Beth Mayfair (odd how she runs away whilst pregnant, but then returns to First Street once the baby is born. Why bother leaving at all?), whilst Rowan and Michael are present simply to give Ashlar someone to tell his story to. Even the organisations and institutes are unrecognisable! The Mayfair clan is barely present, whilst the Talamasca (a benevolent and wise council in the previous books) here reaps nasty vengeance on two renegade members.

And then of course there’s the ending, if you can describe it as that. After building towards a particular moment for what seems like the entire novel… the book ends. And considering this is the end of the trilogy, there is no chance of getting any further information on the proceedings (unless the characters pop up in the Vampire Chronicles, I guess).

I love The Witching Hour and Lasher, and so I suppose I should be glad that their story didn’t extend into this sluggish read. Ultimately Taltos feels like a mere coda to the previous two books. A four hundred and sixty-seven page coda.

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.