!!WARNING!! This review can contain spoilers if you haven't read The Witching Hour!!
In Lasher, Anne Rice immediately picks up where she left me in The Witching Hour. The first half of the story there are lots of events rapidly following each other. Of course things happen which are dark, which stretch the boundaries and speak of untold mysteries. Especially the erotic encounter between Michael and teenager Mona may go against the grain for some readers. The storytelling holds this fusion of distinctive, edgy characters in a strange situation that defies logic, which is all happening against the lush setting of New Orleans that ensnares me so. The vibe Anne Rice creates is unlike anything I have ever read! Michael, Rowan, Aaron, Lasher, Mona all come alive via this authors voice. I may not always understand their actions, I may not always agree with them but the affect me nonetheless.
As the title of this episode suggest the focus is on Lasher. Not only did I get his present but I also got his past. While he may have held me between love and hate for his persona in The Witching Hour, he has tipped that scale to hate in his own story. Even when he relays his own past he fails to redeem himself. And believe me, Anne Rice gradually laid all of him bare for me to take in. Weighing his past, his present, his feeling and his actions. But his actions are so self-served. The contempt Lasher shows for life and for the Mayfairs, the very people he claims to love and serve, is despicable. He uses them as he sees fit and it made him an SOB of the first order! I could only take in the strife and anguish he rained down on the Mayfairs in the hope he would get his comeuppance. He was truly one of those formidable adversary who makes me cheer for the other side.
Anne Rice keeps adding or deepening the backstory of the main cameo of characters. Especially all powerful Mayfair, Julien, has an important role to play. His life intrigued me so in The Mayfair Hour but it wasn't told in depth until now. Satisfying my everlasting curiosity. In the second half of the story she peels away layers of mystery and secrets in a more languid pace of storytelling. It weaves its own kind of magic with rich settings, various time periods and again the mesmerizing characters. The mythology behind this second story in The Mayfair Trilogy speaks to my imagination. I love Celtic lore and though I don't know if it is based on an actual lore, Anne Rice makes me believe it is so.
The Mayfair family have a lot to deal with but they also discover some truths about their own lineage. Michael, the tragic hero was a true Irish bleeding heart. His convictions and his love for Rowan burns fierce, even if he has his weak moment. I wanted him to succeed, to be reunited again because faults and all, he is a man who is the veritable rock in the ocean. I thought he could weather it all and through sheer tenacity could achieve his hearts desires. All the other characters tribute to Michael and Rowan's journey in one way or another. Even when Mona becomes a key characters in the future storyline, even with other Mayfair women paying a steep price, it is Michael and Rowan's love for each other that becomes a shining beacon amidst all the hurt, darkness and power play.
Lasher has quite a plan and part of the suspense is; will he succeed or not? There are three big parties involved, namely Lasher himself, the Talamsca and the Mayfairs. Each has an own agenda and wants to find out certain truths. And if they get in the way of one another, well violence is also a part of Anne Rice's storytelling. Casualties will fall but it only got me more emotionally invested and rooting for various characters. The Talamasca, for all that I knew about them, there was so much more I didn't! They definitely triggered my conspiracy button and I never trust them further then I can see them. They are just as much an integral part as the Mayfairs and Lasher but only till the end truths were revealed that shed a different light on the Talamasca. I may not like it but it gives fuel for thought and probably story # 3; Taltos.
With Lasher, Anne Rice gave me an attention grabbing story that takes me even deeper in to the world of the Mayfairs. It may not have made me eat, sleep and breathe the story like The Witching Hour did but it was a worthy successor!