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Wednesday, June 13, 2007


***½ Taltos by Anne Rice. Horror.

Yes, I know there's a book between
The Witching Hour and this one. This one was in my TBR pile, though, and that one's not. Nor will it be.

Hmmm. It's impossible to write about the plot in a coherent manner because there are several intertwining threads:

As the title implies, this book is mainly about the Taltos--a race of beings we were introduced to in The Witching Hour. Ashlar is, or at least believes himself to be, the last of his kind. He's lonely, currently obsessed with dolls (collecting and manufacturing them), and when he discovers another Taltos has been seen, he drops everything to check it out.

And of course there are the Mayfairs, as this is the last book of the Mayfair Witch trilogy. Rowan seems to be following in her mother's footsteps at the beginning of the book, though she's not quite as completely catatonic--she walks, eats, dresses herself, etc., but doesn't speak, communicate, or acknowledge the presence of others.

The family seems to be turning to the 12-year-old designee of the legacy, Mona, who's pregnant with Michael's child.

Then there's the Talamasca. There's corruption within the Talamasca: Aaron Lightner is killed, and his friend and contemporary Stuart Gordon is behind it, motivated by his plan to resurrect the Taltos race. He has a female Taltos, and he plans to find a male so they can mate.

Contrary to the average opinions on Amazon, I enjoyed this more than I did The Witching Hour. The Taltos race was an interesting concept, and we got a lot more detail about them. (This was presumably also present in Lasher, but I haven't read it.) It also lacked a lot of the problems I had with The Witching Hour: it had a coherent plot--even if there were several threads, the story itself held together quite well; and while there were still a few tangential flashbacks, they weren't nearly as numerous or intrusive as those in The Witching Hour.

However. I was completely creeped out by Mona, and not in the way you're creeped out by vampires or spiders, but in a lose-my-lunch kind of way. The nonchalant way an "affair" between a 12-year-old and a man in his 40s was handled pushed my squick buttons hard. The affair was bad enough, but that it was presented as normal.... Added to that is the fact that she's treated as the head of the family, and everyone defers to her. She's 12. T W E L V E. Not 18, not 16, not even 14--12. She's a child. Nope, just could not swallow this. As with the other witches in The Witching Hour, we're told she's very powerful, which might account for some of the attitude, if we ever saw any evidence of that power, which we don't.

And then there was the stylistic choice that was seriously nails-on-the-chalkboard irritating. Mona becomes friends with her teenage cousin Mary Jane. I rather liked Mary Jane, but she talks like this:
I'll get it, you rest there against that tree, that's the tree I told you about, the cypress tree, oldest one in these parts, you see this was the pond out there, the little pond???? You know??? Where the family would go rowing??? Here, take the lantern, the handle doesn't get hot.
Grrrrr. Why use 3 and 4 question marks? One would do, really, to show the speech patterns. Just bugged the heck out of me. I'm not even going to mention the comma splices. Of course, if I'd loved the rest of the book, that would be a minor niggle.

Though I liked it better than the first of the trilogy, even if Mona had been 16 or 18, I wasn't more than mildly interested in the story. Mona at 12 just made me disgusted.

I have two more Anne Rice books in my TBR pile. They were, in fact, at the top, since they'd been random picks a while ago, but I'd postponed reading them until I read the earlier books (The Mummy and The Witching Hour). I picked up the next one to read--one of the vampire ones, I can't remember which--and found myself reading very skeptically, expecting to dislike it. So I put them both back on the bottom of the TBR pile until I get my annoyance with this series out of my head.


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Hmmmm...going thru my brain cells to see if I have read this. And, I cannot remember. I think because Anne Rice just was getting so out there I could not read her anymore.

This is a good review.
Thanks, Nancy. I came really late to Anne Rice, so I'm still back on her earlier books, but I've heard that complaint from a lot of fans.
I loved all three of them in college, but now can't make myself want to reread them. The parts I liked in TWH are the parts most people are bored with- the family history and the New Orleans stuff. I could care less about Rowan and Michael.
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