The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Michael Curry, a successful forty-eight-year-old San Francisco contractor, has his life blighted by a near-death experience. After slipping off rocks and almost drowning in San Francisco Bay, he is rescued by a mysterious woman in a passing boat. He discovers that by touching objects and people with his hands, he acquires access to other lives and events. These insights are fragmentary, as is his memory of an encounter with otherworldly beings during his drowning, when he promised to fulfill a mission for them. He discusses his occult powers with the press and becomes a celebrity, a confusing development that he rejects by becoming a recluse and shutting down his business.

One of Michael’s doctors puts him in touch with his rescuer, who Michael believes will help him understand what he is meant to do with his occluded occult knowledge. His rescuer, Rowan Mayfair, is a superb surgeon, thirty years old, and an ash-blonde beauty. Michael falls in love with her. She, like Michael, is searching for answers. She has the power to hurt and to heal people. She can stop a patient’s bleeding by a laying on of hands; she also can cause a person’s heart attack or stroke if she does not control her rage. Her obsession with saving people is her effort at self-redemption. Michael hopes that touching Rowan and her boat will bring back his sense of mission, and Rowan hopes that Michael will help reveal her past.

Rowan’s adoptive mother died recently,...

(The entire section is 537 words.)

Literary Techniques

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Because of her desire to give the reader the necessary family background of the Mayfairs, Rice has a great deal of history to present. She...

(The entire section is 230 words.)

Ideas for Group Discussions

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Witches by their very historical nature are humans with spiritual connections. Generally (disregarding Glenda, the Good Witch of The...

(The entire section is 444 words.)

Social Concerns

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Scientific, medical, and ethical concerns are addressed in this work. Within the first hundred pages, characters debate the...

(The entire section is 521 words.)

Literary Precedents

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Stories of witches can be found in the Bible (the Witch of Endor), Shakespeare (in Macbeth, c.1600), Hawthorne's "Young Goodman...

(The entire section is 94 words.)

Related Titles

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The Witching Hour is the first in what might be called Rice's Witch Chronicles. Published in 1993, the novel Lasher, and in...

(The entire section is 66 words.)


(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The Witching Hour has been recorded on audio tape, read by actress Lindsey Crouse.

(The entire section is 14 words.)