Anne Rice is about to release another vampire novel (Prince Lestat) which, naturally, I’ll purchase and review later. Meanwhile, to celebrate Halloween I thought I’d take a look at The Witching Hour, a favorite from the early 90s. In this sprawling, creepy book, Rice proved herself the one true American Master of Popular Horror Fiction. Those boys that occupy the K-section in Barnes & Noble are past their prime and rarely publish anything other than remainders and future door-stops. Rice, on the other hand, has been consistent in producing interesting and sometimes even outstanding horror fiction. First in her series about “The Lives of the Mayfair Witches,” The Witching Hour introduces us to Rowan Mayfair who initially doesn’t realize that she is descended from a line of witches. Included here is Lasher, an evil spirit intent on re-animating corpses. What follows is a seduction performed by Lasher in a long and deliciously wicked fashion. Rice is at her best in setting her scenes with the appropriate imagery, insightful characterizations and gothic tone. The suspense is breathtaking throughout. Although, I am not a fan of overlong novels such as this one, Rice held my intention. I consider The Witching Hour one of her best books. There are some gruesome scenes, plot twists (especially one involving Rowan’s baby) and some highly-charged prose that turns this smorgasbord into a Halloween treat that you won’t soon forget. I’ve always been fascinated by witches (dated a few in the 70s LOL!) but finding quality fiction featuring witches is sometimes fraught with peril. The Witching Hour is the exception. Rice can weave a wild web of suspense. Her characters are all compelling, and even when I don’t like them I’m curious to find out what happens to them. And of course she nails the gothic mood right up front. The Witching Hour spans 300 years and you’ll be greeted by witch burnings, evil spirits and old New Orleans. The creepy mood is dripping off these pages. I understand that The Witching Hour is a perennial best-seller for Rice.