Rice, Anne: Lasher
(researched by Ashley Stanley)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description
1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)
Published by Alfred A. Knoph, Inc. New York, New York. Published simultaneously in Canada by Alfred A. Knoph Canada (a division of Randon House of Canada Limited.) Toronto, Canada. Copyright 1993 by Anne O'Brien Rice.
2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?
The first edition is published in black cloth.
3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available
4 Pagination
There are 596 pages. Sixteen unnumbered pages appear in the front of the book (these pages include copyright information, the title page, a l
ist of the author's previous works, the dedication, an introductory nursery rhyme, and the first four pages of the novel). The numbered pages start at 5 and continue until 577. Seven unnumbered pages are located at the end (including the last page of the
novel, a note of the style of type, and five blank pages). The novel contains 298 leaves. There are 40 chapters. The page numbers are located only in the top center of the pages on the right, therefore only odd numbered pages appear in type. As stated earlier the first page number to appear in type is 5, the last is 577.
5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?
The novel is neither edited nor introduced,
save for a short Mother Goose nursery rhyme at the beginning of the story.
6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?
There are no illustrations besides the image that appears on the dust jacket of the novel.
7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available
8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)
The dust cover of the book provides a simple but enticing il
lustration (see #3) that would probably catch the eye of the ordinary passerby (and definitely any Anne Rice fan.) The author's name and the book title stand out in stark, white letters against an otherwise dark background. The book itself without the dust cover is black with the author's name, the title, and publisher engraved on the side in shiny gold lettering. The type is clearly legible and the paper, while unevenly binded to the book, is thick and appears very durable. The slight variation in leave length adds to sense of mystery already surrounding the novel.
9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available
10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)
The quality of the pa
per is impressive. The paper is untextured, smooth-faced, and an off-white (almost cream) color. The leaves are unevenly cut, some protrude with rough edges while others are a bit shorter and cleanly edged. The quality of the paper gives the book a sor
t of personality that goes along well with the novel's subject matter. (It is a witch's tale.)
11 Description of binding(s)
The leaves of the novel are securely glued to a stitched spine. The fabric has been attached (with glue) to the leaves on the inside cover. The novel'
s title, author, and publisher appear on the spine of the black cloth.
12 Transcription of title page
LASHER
A NOVEL BY
Anne Rice
(small emblem of a grayhound)
ALFRED A. KNOPF NEW YORK 1993
(Please see item 13 for actual title page).
13 JPEG image of title page, if available
14 Manuscript Holdings
The original transcript is located in Anne Rice's home.
15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)
This novel is a sequel to THE WITCHING HOUR. A note of the type at the end of the novel states that the type is printed in a digitized verson of Janson. The nursery rhyme at the beginning of the novel reads as follows:
The sow came in with the saddle. The little pig rocked the cradle. The dish jumped over the table To see the pot swallow the ladle. The spit that stood behind the door Threw the pudding-stick on the floor. "Odsplut!" said the gridiron, "Can't you agree? I'm the head constable, Bring them to me!" -Mother Goose
Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History
1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A
1. Lasher. Alfred A. Knoph. New York, NY: August 1994. (paperback) 2. Lasher. Alfred A. Knoph. Toronto, Canada: October 1993. (hardback) 3. Lasher: The Lives of the Mayfair Witches. Ballantine Books, Inc. New York, NY: September 1994 and 1995. (mass paperback edition)
Source: WorldCat/Barnesandnoble.com
2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available
3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available
4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?
There were 700,000 printings of the first edition.
Source: www.amazon.com
5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A
1. Chatto & Windus. London: 1993. (hardback) 2. Penguin Books. London: 1994. (paperback) 3. Ballantine Books. New York: 1993, 1994, 1995. (paperback)
Source: RLIN/Eureka
6 Last date in print?
As of 1999, this novel is still in print.
Source: www.amazon.com/ Barnes and Noble.
7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)
Information Unavailable.
8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)
Information Unavailable.
9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)
Aside from reviews listed in various journals such as "The New York Times Book Review" and "Kirkus" no other advertising promotions are available. The
re is not even a reference to Lasher in the novel's prequel (see #15). There is information containing reviews and plot summaries on Anne Rice's web page, as well as in advertisements on the web pages of Barnes and Noble and Amazon.
10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available
11 Other promotion
There is an Anne Rice web page (www.annerice.com) that sells merchancise from all her books. The site includes questions and comments from other readers and periodic commentary from Anne herself.
Source: www.annerice.com
12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A
Audio tape available (two cassettes, total of three hours long). Narrated by Joe Morton. Abridged version. Dolby processed. Lasher. Anne Rice. New York, NY: Random House Audio Publishing 1993.
Source: WorldCat
13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A
1. Spanish paperback: La Voz Del Diablo. Barcelona: Ediciones B, 1994. 2. Spanish hardback: Lasher; Traduccion Raquel Albornoz. Atlantida: Buenos Aires, 1995. 3. French paperback: L'heure des Sorcieres. Paris: Robert Laffont, 1995, 1996. Source: WorldCat
14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A
This novel has not been serialized.
15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A
Lasher is the second installment of the Mayfair Witch Trilogy. Prequel: The Witching Hour. Rice, Anne. Alfred A. Knoph. New York, NY: 1990. Sequel: Taltos. Rice, Anne. Alfred A. Knoph, Inc. New York, NY: 1994.
Source: WorldCat
Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author
1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)
ANNE RICE (Biography as of March 25th, 1999). Howard Allen Frances O'Brien was born on October 4th, 1941 in New Orleans to Katherine Allen and Howard O'Brien. The attitudes and backgrounds of her parents had an enormous impact on the young girl's life as she slowly developed into one of the most
famous bestselling authors of the last two decades.
Her father, Howard, was born into a large Irish Catholic family; he was the fifth of nine children. He studied to become a priest at the Redemptorist Seminary in Missouri, but voluntarily quit school when his family needed him to earn money and aid in su
pporting his siblings. At one time he had looked towards a career in journalism, but never managed to go forward with it. He served in the merchant marines, and after being discharged he went to work for the post office. It was while working at a tempor
ary position for the postal service that he met Katherine Allen.
Katherine was the youngest of eight children, of which only three (Katherine, her sister Alice, and her brother John) survived to reach adolesence. Katherine's family life was rocky, her father was an alcoholic and rarely spent any time with his childern
. Eventually he was thrown out of the house due to his excessive drinking habits, and shortly after he died of tuberculosis and alcoholism in a charity hospital . He was forty-eight years old at the time of his death. "Alcohol was a deep and deadly evil
. The fear and guilt, and the atmosphere of pain that it created in the famly, gave Katherine an intense desire to follow in the ways of the church and to devote herself to being good. Purity and perfection were her absolute goals." ("Prism of the Night
", p. 6).
She met her future husband through a mutual friend, and their romance blossomed over a period of five months. Howard himself once remarked that he had never loved anyone more than Katherine, but at times she somewhat mystified him. "One night, out on th
e steps in the sweltering air, Katherine confessed that she expected to die when she reached her prime. Howard believed she possessed some degree of vision and it chilled him. He asked her never to mention it again." ("Prism of the Night", p. 8). While
the young couple was dating, Howard struggled to find a permanent position at the post office so that he might provide a secure environment for Katherine. He eventually obtained a full-time position, and he asked Katherine to marry him. The wedding date
was set for the early evening of November 25th, 1938, Thanksgiving Day. Katherine was thirty years old at the time, Howard was twenty. After a brief honeymoon the couple moved in with Katherine's mother.
One year after their union the eldest of the O'Brien children, Alice Allen O'Brien, was born. Two years later, Howard Allen O'Brien was born. On her first day of school, Howard Allen decided to go by the nickname "Anne" because she feared ridicule fro
m the other students and wanted to fit in. Nicknames were not uncommon in the O'Brien household, in fact every family member had one. Katherine was called "Kay", Howard was known as "Mike" around the post office, Alice was tagged "Suzie", Tamara chose
"Tiger T", and Karen called herself "Mitey Joe."
Anne and Alice were very close; they often played fantasy games together and acted out dreams that they had had the night before. Many of these childhood dreams Anne recounts in her later novels. Anne's mother was an expert storyteller, and Anne displa
yed her mother's creative ability early on in life. Anne's mother widely encouraged the girls' freedom and creativity. She treated them as equals at an early age, instructing them to call herself and Howard by their first names. Anne and Alice were
not sheltered from the adult world, they were always included in adult conversations and were encouraged to ask questions about adult topics. Anne's mother told them stories frequently and also read them poetry.
Anne's family was not poor, but money was always a concern. Katherine had always wanted a to live a comfortable, well-off life, but Howard was unable to provide that sort of status for her and the two girls. Inwardly depressed, Katherine began to drink
in secret.
In 1946, Tamara O'Brien was born; this was also the year that Anne formally changed her nickname into her real name. One year later the last of the O'Brien children, Karen, entered into the world. After Karen's birth, Katherine O'Brien began a rapid
deterioration due to alcohol. She would drink so much that she would often just pass out on her bed and lie there for days. Even through all of this, though, her children never once saw her lift a bottle to her lips. Katherine would also swallow sever
al Tylenol at one time, and wash them down with liqour or beer. She joined Alcholics Anonymous briefly, after consistent pleading from Howard, but she eventually dropped out and began drinking again. Howard tried desparately to help his wife, but he was
working nearly all day and was not around much to supervise her detrimental habits.
Finally, one night while Howard was in the hospital watching over Tamara, who was slowly recovering from a ruptured spleen, Katherine admitted to a friend that she thought she was dying. Howard left the hospital and rushed to her side, but just as she h
ad predicted years ago before they were married, she died in her prime. Katherine Allen O'Brien died at age forty-eight, the same age at which her alcoholic father had died when she was young. The year was 1956; Anne was two months away from turning fi
fteen.
After her mother's death, Anne was sent to St. Joseph Academy. Less than a year later Howard remarried to a divorced Baptist, Dorothy Van Bever, in November. Anne was happy that her father was beginning to move on with his life. In 1957 Howard was off
ered a job in the Dallas regional post office, so he packed up his family and moved to Richardson, Texas. At first Anne was devastated at being forced to move. "I didn't want to be in Texas. It was very much against my will. I felt like I had been ripp
ed out of New Orleans, and I felt homeless. I felt like I wasn't anything; I was very angry and bitter." ("Prism of the Night, p.55-6). Anne attended Richardson High School in Dallas. At sixteen, she had dyed her raven hair beached blond, and the colo
r had since grown out to leave the top pitch black and the bottom half a coppery blond. Although she never fit into the popular crowd at Richardson, she did develop lasting friendships with several people who shared her intellectual interests.
She met her future husband, Stan, in a journalism class, and was immediately attracted to his tall stature and handsome blond physique. He was the editor of her highschool newspaper, "The Talon", to which Anne contributed several short feature articles.
She also began writing short stories. They began dating casually, and even took a week long trip to New Orleans together. Stan Rice was the first person Anne ever kissed, even though she had entertained many suitors during her high school years. Anne g
raduated from Richardson in 1959, a year before Stan graduated, and she headed off to college at Texas Women's University.
A semester later she transferred to North Texas State University, a college known for its artsy atmosphere. After his high school graduation, Stan also enrolled at North Texas State, intent on studying law. Anne never completed her sophmore year in coll
ege, as she moved to San Francisco to hunt for a job. Stan and Anne sent letters back and forth periodically, until one day at around seven in the morning a special delivery letter arrived for Anne. It was a note from Stan. It read "I want you to be my
wife."
Anne O'Brien and Stan Rice were married on October 14th, 1961, by a justice of the peace instead of a formal church wedding. The simple ceremony took place in the Texas home of one of Stan's English professors. Anne wore a blue brocade shirtwaist dress
with long sleeves and a flared skirt. Stan wore a suit. After Stan finished his sophmore year at North Texas State, the couple packed up and headed for San Francisco.
The newlyweds enrolled in San Francisco University in 1962. They graduated two years later, Anne with a B.A. in Political Science, Stan with a B.A. in Creative Writing. Stan decided to start in the graduate program, and Anne continued to write short sto
ries. They lived in a small apartment that became a virtual hangout for friends and a frequent location for jazz parties. Drugs were abundant, but Anne herself tried marijuana only briefly, and gave it up entirely when she discovered she was pregnant at
age twenty-four. Anne immensely enjoyed carrying her first child, and looked foward to the prospect of having a family.
Michele Rice, later given the nickname "Mouse", was born on September 21st, 1966. Stan and Anne shared equally in raising their blond haired, brown-eyed daughter. Stan also accepted a teaching job at San Francisco State to help support the new addition
to the family. Throughout the next several years Anne and Stan both continued to write copiously. Anne attended graduate school for English.
Sadly, the Rices' happy life was interrupted when four-year-old Michele suddenly became ill and was rushed to the hospital. The doctors diagnosed Michele with acute granuleucytic leukemia. Her parents tried desparately to delay the inevitable, consulti
ng many doctors and medical journals in an effort to discover more about their daughter's illness. In the meantime they made certain that Michele be able to enjoy her life to the utmost. Michele was given many kinds of drugs, but was eventually hospita
lized because of weakness and acute pain. Finally, on August 5th, at five in the morning, Michele's heart stopped beating. Doctors and nurses tried desparately to revive the child with Anne and Stan by their sides, however all attempts at recessitation
were unsuccessful.
After the death of her first child, Anne decided to write full time. She threw herself into the manuscript of "Interview With the Vampire" and finished the novel in five weeks. Her first attempt to have the novel published was rejected. Eventually Anne
met Phyllis Seidel, who agreed to represent the novel and managed to sell it to Vicky Wilson at Knoph publishing. Rice was given a 12,000 advance. In 1976 "Interview with the Vampire" was finally published. Paramount bought the film rights for $150,000
.
Two years later Anne's second child, Christoper Rice, was born on March 11th. The couple and their son remained in the San Francisco area for the next nine years. Stan continued to write poetry and published several collections, while Anne continued to
write and publish short stories. Finally, in 1988 the Rice family returned to New Orleans and eventually settled permanently in a large mansion in the Garden District. In 1990 Rice began the Mayfair Witch Chronicles (of which "Lasher" is the second inst
allment). Knopf publishing gave her a $5 million dollar advance. Shortly after "The Witching Hour" was published, Anne's father, Howard, died. Two years later Anne completed and published the sequel in the Mayfair Witch Trilogy: "Lasher" was released
in 1993.
Currently, Anne still resides with her husband and son in their New Orleans mansion. In December of 1998, Anne suffered a life-threatening collapse and was rushed to the hospital in a coma. She was diagnosed with diabetes in Janurary. Since her
diagnosis she had been resting at her home and learning how to cope with her illness. By all accounts, she seems to be on the road to a healthly recovery. She has just released a new addition to the Vampire Chronicles, the novel "Vittorio" was released
earlier this year. Due to her illness, she will not be touring to promote its release.
Sources used for this biographical description are as follows:
1. Smith, Jennifer. Anne Rice. Greenwood Publishing Group. Westport, CT: 1996. 2. Hoppenstand, Gary and Browne, Ray B. The Gothic World of Anne Rice. Bowling Green State University Popular Press. Bowling Green, OH: 1996. 3. Marcus, Jana. In the Shadow of the Vampire. Thunder's Mouth Press. New York, NY: 1997. 4. Ramsland, Katherine. Prism of the Night: A Biography of Anne Rice. Penguin Books USA, Inc. New York, NY: 1992. (All quotations come from this book) 5. Anne Rice's webpage: www.annerice.com
Assignment 4: Reception History
1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
By 1993, Anne Rice had successfully established herself as one of the most well-known gothic authors in the nation. But while her bestselling Vampire Chronicles were received with extraordinary praise that subse
quently vaulted her to celebrity status, the Mayfair trilogy is less well reviewed by critics and public readers, alike. When Lasher was first released in September of 1993, the line to purchase a first edition copy in the Garden District of New Orleans
was so long that mounted police officers had to be brought in to help control the crowd. Anne Rice was on hand that day to personally autograph the novels. She signed 1250 books in five hours. Later reception was less enthusiastic.
Most comtemporary reviews exist in 1993 and 1994. Rice published the final installment of the Mayfair witch trilogy, TALTOS, in 1994, therefore later reviews focus mainly on that book and other more recently released Vampire Novels. Lasher received a lu
ke warm reception by many reviewers.
In an article in Publishers Weekly (printed shortly before the novel was released to the public) the characters are described: "At their best, Rice's characters rise above the more wooden plot machinations with an ironic and modern complexity: Mona, the
young feminist witch with sharklike business instincts; Julien, the dead patriarch, who movingly recalls his male lovers; Yuri, the clever Serbian orphan." The review continues to relate that "despite lapses into uninspired language, ultimately the novel
is compelling through its exhaustive monumentality." This last statement seems to summerize what many other reviews also state: specifically that once the reader gets past the massive paragraphs of description and backtracking, then underneath lies an i
nteresting story.
Kirkus Reviews feels that the novel is stuffed with unecessary and (at times) boring descriptive text and vague subplots that undermise the real meat of the novel. The real story doesn't start until "we wade through 200 tediously undramatic sheets of d
ialogue filler quite lacking in storytelling oomph." The true excitement in the book lies with the story of Rowan and her demonic son, Lasher. "But pigging out on Rowan's plight takes up only about 200 pages all told, and then more background filler--w
ell, the novel's huge mythic underpinning--dims our spirits. Too much Rice-A-Roni, but addicts will lick the pot."
The major compliant is undeniably the lack of action. Too much description and not enough characters acting. In late November an article in the New Statesman and Society claims that "Anne Rice is adept at creating an atmosphere of doomy tension. What she
lacks is narrative pace. The intricate plot is ill served by writing that has rather too much polish and rather too little nerve."
There are positive reviews of LASHER. The Denver Post calls it "Erotic and eerie," while the Miami Herald even refers to it as "Steamy...fast-paced...and hugely engrossing." But most of the positive reviews are very general. They don't cite any specifi
c praises of the novel, whereas many of the more negative reviews cite specific problems (once again the lack of action, too much description, shallow characters and a drab plot). It is worth wondering whether or not Lasher would have been such a large su
ccess had Anne Rice's reputation not been so glorified by her previous Vampire Chronicles. Overall there is a general feeling of dissappointment in Lasher.
Reviews of LASHER 1. Publisher's Weekly. Sept 27, 1993. (p 14) 2. Publisher's Weekly. Aug 9, 1993. (p 450) 3. Kirkus Reviews. July 15, 1993. 4. Booklist. August, 1993. (p 2012) 5. New Statesman and Society. Nov 26, 1993. (p 44) 6. New York Times Book Review. Oct 24, 1993. (p 38) 7. Detroit News and Free Press. Oct 3, 1993. 8. Washington Post. Oct 10, 1993. 9. Chicago Tribune. Oct 17, 1995. 10. Houston Chronicle. Oct 3, 1993.
2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
By 1993, Anne Rice had successfully established herself as one of the most well-known gothic authors in the nation. But while her bestselling Vampire Chronicles were received with extraordinary praise that subse
quently vaulted her to celebrity status, the Mayfair trilogy is less well reviewed by critics and public readers, alike. When Lasher was first released in September of 1993, the line to purchase a first edition copy in the Garden District of New Orleans
was so long that mounted police officers had to be brought in to help control the crowd. Anne Rice was on hand that day to personally autograph the novels. She signed 1250 books in five hours. Later reception was less enthusiastic.
Most comtemporary reviews exist in 1993 and 1994. Rice published the final installment of the Mayfair witch trilogy, TALTOS, in 1994, therefore later reviews focus mainly on that book and other more recently released Vampire Novels. Lasher received a lu
ke warm reception by many reviewers.
In an article in Publishers Weekly (printed shortly before the novel was released to the public) the characters are described: "At their best, Rice's characters rise above the more wooden plot machinations with an ironic and modern complexity: Mona, the
young feminist witch with sharklike business instincts; Julien, the dead patriarch, who movingly recalls his male lovers; Yuri, the clever Serbian orphan." The review continues to relate that "despite lapses into uninspired language, ultimately the novel
is compelling through its exhaustive monumentality." This last statement seems to summerize what many other reviews also state: specifically that once the reader gets past the massive paragraphs of description and backtracking, then underneath lies an i
nteresting story.
Kirkus Reviews feels that the novel is stuffed with unecessary and (at times) boring descriptive text and vague subplots that undermise the real meat of the novel. The real story doesn't start until "we wade through 200 tediously undramatic sheets of d
ialogue filler quite lacking in storytelling oomph." The true excitement in the book lies with the story of Rowan and her demonic son, Lasher. "But pigging out on Rowan's plight takes up only about 200 pages all told, and then more background filler--w
ell, the novel's huge mythic underpinning--dims our spirits. Too much Rice-A-Roni, but addicts will lick the pot."
The major compliant is undeniably the lack of action. Too much description and not enough characters acting. In late November an article in the New Statesman and Society claims that "Anne Rice is adept at creating an atmosphere of doomy tension. What she
lacks is narrative pace. The intricate plot is ill served by writing that has rather too much polish and rather too little nerve."
There are positive reviews of LASHER. The Denver Post calls it "Erotic and eerie," while the Miami Herald even refers to it as "Steamy...fast-paced...and hugely engrossing." But most of the positive reviews are very general. They don't cite any specifi
c praises of the novel, whereas many of the more negative reviews cite specific problems (once again the lack of action, too much description, shallow characters and a drab plot). It is worth wondering whether or not Lasher would have been such a large su
ccess had Anne Rice's reputation not been so glorified by her previous Vampire Chronicles. Overall there is a general feeling of dissappointment in Lasher.
Reviews of LASHER 1. Publisher's Weekly. Sept 27, 1993. (p 14) 2. Publisher's Weekly. Aug 9, 1993. (p 450) 3. Kirkus Reviews. July 15, 1993. 4. Booklist. August, 1993. (p 2012) 5. New Statesman and Society. Nov 26, 1993. (p 44) 6. New York Times Book Review. Oct 24, 1993. (p 38) 7. Detroit News and Free Press. Oct 3, 1993. 8. Washington Post. Oct 10, 1993. 9. Chicago Tribune. Oct 17, 1995. 10. Houston Chronicle. Oct 3, 1993.
Assignment 5: Critical Analysis
1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)
The World Of Anne Rice
When Anne Rice was a child, she used to spend her days creeping around the deserted mansions along the winding streets of New Orleans, trying to get a look inside and see what really lurked behind the mysterious doors. At times she would imagine that sh
e could see ghosts peering out from behind the broken windows, demons hunched behind bushes, even the Devil himself waiting inside the lonely houses for some unsuspecting explorer. Rice would not hesitate to relate these wild stories to her mother and si
sters, and even at a young age she was able to weave tales of suspense that would keep her family running back for more. Most of her childhood was lived in such a fantasy world. Her younger sister Tamara once commented "For as long as I can remember, An
ne wanted to be a novelist. Her head was filled with stories to tell. She came home and wrote, and it got her through every experience. She's as thorough a writer in her heart and soul as anyone I've ever met." (Ramsland, 40).
Rice was encouraged by her family, particularly her mother, to constantly expand the boundaries of her imagination as far as it could take her. She went a long way, and today the young girl who once captivated her family with stories of mansion ghosts no
w has millions of fans screaming with delight from those vary same incarnations that were first borne in her childhood.
Beginning with the smash hit INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE, Rice has successfully established a monopoly on the world of the supernatural and has scored big with a number of related books all riding on the success of American gothic fiction and the mysteriou
s reputation of Rice. "People all around her in California were exploring wahy to go within when Vampire was released. Finding personal meaning, inner peace, and trancendence were main goals. Anne's expression of crossing boundaries into a new realm of
the excessive, magnified experience would meet up with an intense cultural hunger for just such uninhibited introspection and transformation." (Ramsland, 147).
In fact, it would be surprising today if an Anne Rice novel did not reach the Best Sellers List. The empire of the "Queen of the Night" is so vast that her books are almost guaranteed best selling status due to the legions of fans that crave her gothic h
orror tales and escapist fiction. The explanation for LASHER'S popularity is no different from most other Rice novels. The first installment of the Mayfair Witch Trilogy, THE WITCHING HOUR received a warm welcome by critics and fans alike. THE WITCHING HOUR ended with the climactic bir
th of the demon Lasher, and left readers in a delicious lurch as to what might take place next. By the time LASHER was released, Rice fans were delirious with anticipation. However, LASHER was not quite the gothic masterpiece of its predecessor, as it
was attacked by many critics for being long-winded and slow in the action department.
Still, a slew of negative reviews were not enough to stop Rice fans from flocking bookstores everywhere in search of the elusive second installment. Undoubtedly it is her enormous fan base that keeps Rice atop the Best Seller's list, so it is important
to examine the qualities of Anne Rice fiction that her fans adore.
While many of her books, including LASHER, were criticized for their lack of depth and literary content, the dark world of Anne Rice does provide the reader with a chance to escape the confines of everyday reality, and delve into a world of demonic sexual
ity, gothic settings, and supernatural characters with surprisingly human qualities. Rice novels are packed with thick paragraphs of description that gives the reader an excellent feeling of being there. "Her descriptions are exacting, showing attention
to the fine nuances that charge a scene with intersensory stimuli." (Ramsland, 145).
Readers searching for something to draw their attention away from their own mundane existence are drawn into the excitingly detailed mansions of New Orleans and are greeted by eerily beautiful characters with strong seductive charms and graceful manners.

For example, Lasher himself is a demon who ends up killing his own child and nearly destroying his mother, he is described as beautiful and enchanting. There is always a nebulous haze of uncertainty about him; he appears throughout the novel as powerf
ul but at the same time innocently handsome. Lasher and the other main characters are primarily supernatural beings, but they still embody some human qualities so that the reader can still relate to them on that level. The reader feels attracted to the
characters?much less like a bystander and more like part of their supernatural world.
Anne Rice also explores sexuality in a crude, sometimes demonic way that may appeal to the darker side of some readers. In the vampire chronicles "For the victim, sexual arousal heightens with the threat of annihilation: a vampire is the image of dangerou
s sex in which the greatest possible orgasm is achieved at the point preceding unconsciousness, but the risk is death. However, to survive is to experience a rebirth." (Smith, 145).
Lasher is constantly seducing the Mayfair Witches and nearly raping them. Though they start out not wanted to have sex with Lasher, they almost always end up enjoying it.
A great deal of detail is invested in the sex sequences. In the beginning of LASHER, a thirteen year old Mayfair witch seduces a thirty year old man, Michael, and ends up bearing his child. Even Lasher keeps his own mother, Rowan, as his sexual prisone
r and tries in several graphic sex scenes to unsuccessfully impregnate her. The sex often appears as violent, especially between Lasher and Rowan.
Sex between supernatural beings is a common theme in many Rice novels, and undoubtedly one of the many enticing reasons that fans are attracted to her novel. Perhaps they can live out their own fantasies through Rice's characters than they would otherwi
se be unable to experience. In fact, Rice's novels offer the reader the opportunity to live out many otherworldly fantasies, not just sexual ones.
Readers are also able find a sense of security in Anne Rice novels. The childlike innocence and animalistic tendencies of her characters, whether they be vampires, monsters, demons or witches, provide the reader with a familiar base, set in the familiar
town of New Orleans, struggling to bridge the same familiar gap between humanity and the supernatural. The reader can be assured that many of Anne Rice's novels will contain certain common aspects that account for their popularity. This formulaic appr
oach is comforting to most Anne Rice fans.
Fans do not look to her novels as literary masterpieces; they see them only as entertaining escapes into a world of fantasy and imagination.
In addition, Rice's public personal relationship with her fans helps her to maintain a strong base of support that continually catapults her novels to best selling status. She sometimes holds masquerade balls at her mansion in New Orleans, leaves weekly
telephone messages describing in detail her latest projects and beliefs, and provides a webpage where fans can chat with each other and poise questions to Rice herself.
This type of treatment makes many fans feel that they know Rice personally. Thousands of e-mails are printed on the web page and Rice calls her fans "friends" on the recorded phone messages. Not only are the fans able to form seemingly intimate relation
ships with Rice's characters, they are nearly able to form a relationship with Rice herself.
This strong bond between author and reader makes it more likely that the fans will buy Rice's novels. It's relatively easy to imagine Rice as the mother storyteller and her fans gathered around like children at her feet every few years, anxious to hea
r yet another story of gothic horror.
To know Anne Rice is to realize that her stories are formulaic, but to appreciate their commonalties rather than criticize them. Each book might yield different creatures with different powers and goals but the overall struggle between good and evil is a
ll too familiar. It's easy to understand the effect her supernatural worlds have on readers and why they keep coming back for later novels despite luke warm reviews.
After reading one or two of her books, after spending hours emerged in the depths of a deteriorating New Orleans mansion, after repeatedly making love to demons by candlelight, and after investing hope and energy into exciting, unreal characters and situa
tions, one inevitably learns to love the mystery and the suspense of it all and the gothic world of Anne Rice begins to feel more and more like home.
Sources:
1. Ramsland, Katherine. Prism of the Night: A Biography of Anne Rice. First Plume Printing. October, 1992. 2. Smith, Jennifer. Anne Rice: A Critical Companion. Greenwood Press. 1996. 3. Marcus, Jana. In the Shadow of the Vampire. Thunder's Mouth Press. New York, NY. 4. Rice, Anne. Lasher. Alfred A. Knoph. 1993. 5. Rice, Anne. The Witching Hour. Alfred A. Knoph. November, 1990. 6. Rice, Anne. Taltos. Alfred A. Knoph. September, 1994. 7. Annerice.com 8. InfoTrac (Title search: Lasher)
You are not logged in. (Sign in)