by Anne Rice



“WELL ITS ABOUT BLOODY TIME”! I exclaimed when read the inside flap of Anne Rice’s latest novel ‘Merrick’ and realised it was about a Mayfair Witch. I mean the Mayfair fans have only been waiting umm, SIX YEARS for the next installment of the saga. The last book on the Mayfair Witches was ‘Taltos’ written in 1996 and since then Rice has only produced Vampire stories as well as two other books not related to either Witches or Vampires. In this latest book Rice however, includes both a Witch from the majestic Mayfair clan of New Orleans and the Vampires Lestat, Louis and David. I think that Rice has felt that she should write something about the Mayfairs but does not want to alienate her lucrative Vampire-loving audience. She is therefore trying to cash in by including the Vampires in ‘Merrick’ who I don’t believe were vitally necessary to the story line.

Nevertheless, ‘Merrick’ is a good read. Not being much of a Vampire fan myself, I have not read more than one and a half of her earliest Vampire books and yet I had no trouble working out who was who and what was going on with the Vampires in ‘Merrick’. So you do not have had to have read all the previous Vampire novels, only the Witches ones. Merrick herself is probably better described as a Voodoo Priestess rather than a ‘Witch’. She is a member of the ‘coloured’ branch of the Mayfair clan, a lineage descended through the slaves from both the Haiti and New Orleans plantations with a few ‘white’ Mayfairs, such as the infamous Oncle Julien, thrown into the mix. Merrick uses the Loa (Gods of Voodoo) in her workings who are often interchanged with equivalent Catholic saints and deities, and it is the descriptions of rituals involving the Loa that make the book interesting. Rice has obviously been researching the religion of Voodoo which is so much a part of New Orleans both historically and today.

Part of the story of Merrick also involves a trip to Guatemala and the descriptions of the landscape and the scarey goings-on with the pre-Olmec artefacts and their guardian spirits are quite riveting. Rice has obviously been doing some research in South America as well. Although a bit waffly throughout the first quarter of the book, the pace soon quickens and the the characters become a lot more interesting than the descriptions of them first suggested. Vampire fans will be very interested to hear about the latest escapades of Lestat and Louis, in fact the book is actually supposed to be about Merrick calling up the spirit of the child-Vampire, Claudia, for Louis benefit however this happens so late into the story that you’ve forgotten it was even supposed to happen by the time it occurs. The description of this ceremony is vivid and ghastly which is nice because there has not been much horror in the book up to this point.

‘Merrick’ does not feature the ‘white’ Mayfairs from uptown, it is purely about the ‘black’ Mayfairs, or as it is apparently polite to say in New Orleans, the ‘coloured’ Mayfairs. Thus it is still rather unsatisfying if, like me, you are just dying to find out what is going on with the uptown family. The input from the Vampires in ‘Merrick’ I can take or leave, but I suppose Rice is melding all her characters together these days, I mean the Witches and the Vampires can hardly both inhabit the same city and not run across one another. So I expect she’ll feature Witches and Vampires again in future installments. Overall I do think this was a good book, and for both Mayfair and Vampire fans it is essential reading.

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