(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The Witching Hour is closely related to Anne Rice’s other work, especially the Vampire Chronicles (1976-1995). Aaron Lightner and the Talamasca also appear in those novels, representing the patient, humane efforts of the rational mind to comprehend the occult world. The members of the Talamasca are fascinated with spirits and vampires, but the Talamasca’s main purpose is to acquire information, not to participate in the spirit world or to be seduced by it—although, in The Witching Hour, several Talamasca members, including Aaron, do become emotionally involved with witches. The witches’ beauty and power, like Lasher’s, are alluring and seem to endow human beings with superhuman strength and desire, as well as promising immortality.

This yearning for occult knowledge is a perennial theme in fantasy literature. Rowan is rather like a female Dr. Faustus, determined to know and to conquer the secrets of nature. She wants to heal people, but the very extremity of that desire paradoxically cuts her off from her own humanity. Like Faust, she risks damnation. She is in thrall to her Mephistopheles, Lasher. This feminist reinterpretation of an old myth echoes Rice’s idea of a mother-god in the Vampire Chronicles, in which the Egyptian queen, Akasha, would make Earth a matriarchy by exterminating most men. Michael serves his goddess/ lover Rowan as slavishly as the vampire Lestat attends the imperious Akasha, but like Lestat, who...

(The entire section is 404 words.)