The Witching Hour Themes
Rice writes about the supernatural world that she feels co-exists with the so-called natural world. In The Witching Hour, witches and demons with powers beyond those of humans use those powers for good and evil. Unlike the vampires in her Vampire Chronicles, the witches in this novel are not especially harmful to the health of mortals, and they in fact are mortal themselves, burning to death or crashing to earth from great heights from which they have flung themselves or been flung. Most often their powers are used to increase their wealth and power and to wreak havoc on their enemies. The point is that when one sees a family that seems always to prosper even when illness or adversity strikes, Rice's explanation seems to be that there are supernatural creatures out there who have the power to overcome things that mere mortals cannot.
The main theme of The Witching Hour has to do with good and evil. Rice suggests that in everyone there is the potential to do good or do evil. In the case of Rowan, it seems that through heredity, she has the ability to kill merely by "wishing" her opponents dead. On two occasions, once when she was a child and once when she was a young adult, the persons interfering with her in a threatening manner died almost immediately. That their deaths appeared to be the result of brain hemorrhage made it seem that their deaths were natural. But Rowan, although unaware at the time of her "witch" powers, knew somehow that she had caused the deaths. Yet knowing her power, she struggled against using it against anyone else. As Rice has said, she has no doubt "that people manipulate unseen forces" and that goes double for people with supernatural abilities.
Michael Curry's new-found ability to read people's minds, their pasts and futures just by placing his hands on them or their possessions was certainly a tool for good or evil. It is to his credit that he chose to restrain its use, not exploit it or commercialize it to his advantage.
Both Rowan and Michael, with their unusual powers, personify the circumstance that everyone has the potential to be good or bad. Their story shows that it is a constant struggle that often ends unhappily. But Rice has Michael say that "Life itself must be founded upon the infinite possibility for choice and accident . . . We must believe that we can change, that we can control, that we can direct our own destinies... I believe in Free Will."