I'm a little disappointed over this one from classic vamp/witch chick Anne Rice. Lasher starts off with a very good plot and a lot of promise, but fizzles at the end. Kind of like a car rolling down the freeway with its engine cut off - it just rolls slowly to a stop. Anne Rice, as I'm sure most of you know, is the authoress behind such modern vampire classics as The Vampire Lestat and the crème de la crème of modern classics - Interview With the Vampire. So when my wife bought me Lasher for Christmas recently I was rather stoked about it as you can imagine.
Lasher tells the story of a modern witch family - a family clan with a long history of mystery and dating all the way back to Donnelaith, Scotland, a small town said to have been a witch's coven centuries before. The history of the Mayfair family is deep and winding and takes you on a lovely trail of intrigue and obscurity. Quite well researched and designed, the characters of the modern Mayfair family unfortunately seem very two dimensional. Personalities are obvious to even the casual reader. You have the hip and smart kid, the crotchety aunt, the old grandma who barely talks but when does "everyone listens," the smart yuppie guy and the mysterious guy. And then there's the ghost of Julien who is downright boring.
The story will start to move along then suddenly stall, harkening back to my car analogy, and sputter to life for another chapter or two then stall again. I think the biggest problem with Lasher is the size of it. It's flippin' huge and I think that the sheer size of the novel causes it to drag. It was almost tiresome. An example would be the multitude of chapters in which Julien tells his story to Michael. Not only did I already know most of it by this time, it could have easily been fit into a single chapter. Not the four or five it was. Just because you have a person (ghost) now telling a story in the first person doesn't mean you should repeat everything we already know in an effort to fart out a half dozen more chapters of verbiage.
The ending as well was a major let down. Here you have this spirit, Lasher, who is not even human because of a chromosome difference with our species. And he's powerful - hell, he's lived as a spirit for centuries. And he gets born from a pair of Mayfair witches for some reason - and nobody knows how or why the soul of the baby the couple really did conceive was tossed out or where it went. And so he's born, grows rapidly and is a full grown man within weeks. So finally he is "of flesh" which was his want for centuries. And what does he do after killing off a few of the Mayfair women by, well, screwing them to death? (Ok, that was bad - they hemorrhaged because they couldn't carry his child to term - I dunno, not my story.) He just gives up. He comes to the Mayfair house, walks in and pretty much goes, "Here I am." Tough guy, eh?
And when he does show up, which you know from about halfway through the book that he would, you expect this huge cataclysmic battle, yes? A battle of witches versus spirit. I was ready for it - I was gnashing my teeth for something really cool to make the 570+ page book worthwhile. But no. He sits down and they have a nice chat. He tells him their story. His story at least was rather good. And then I figured, as is expected by Evil Masterminds [tm] who tell their victims their entire plan so that if they escape they can be ruined, maybe he'd at least fight it out now, yes? No. He runs away. And Michael goes after him, of course. Oh good! Up in Julien's old attic is going to be the battle. Ok finally, woohoo! What happens? Lasher puts up no fight - and Michael beats him with a hammer. A FUCKING HAMMER is the death of a multi-century old and powerful spirit.
I droned through 500 pages for this? I've had better climaxes in my sleep.
"Lasher" by Anne Rice
Published by Ballantine Books
Copyright © 1993 by Anne O'Brien Rice