Reviews for Lasher : a novel

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

So stunningly bad is the first third of this book that only the lunatic and the true devotee are likely to get beyond it. It is actually a riot of Rice's worst sins: strained and wooden characterizations, the abandonment of plot for the sake of a tangled and murky history, and a sort of mutant prose stumbling between a modern person's idea of old-fashioned elegance and an old-fashioned person's idea of how people actually talk in the 1990s. Part of the purpose of this 200-page cancer is to make the transition from the novel's progenitor, The Witching Hour (1990), but this could have been accomplished in 10 or 15 pages. Well, let's say you made it through. What you get now is the best of Rice: a deliciously perverse image of an infant, Lasher, who grows to sexual maturity within days of his birth and immediately starts copulating with his mother even while she swoons with the pleasure of his suckling. Of course, it's always nice to read about sex, and Rice's romantic imagination doesn't let her down: Lasher is dark, handsome, sadistic, childlike, and tender. His mother cannot resist him even after she has twice miscarried in the space of three months. But Rice cannot quite bring home the promising story of Lasher's desire to repopulate the earth with his own kind, and the story limps to an unsatisfying conclusion. By the end, then, we've had a bit of everything: the good, the bad, and the truly ugly. Indeed, without her reputation, Rice would never have found a publisher for this wretched mess. (Reviewed Aug. 1993)0679412956Stuart Whitwell


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

The sequel and conclusion to Rice's The Witching Hour (1990) shows Rice both at her best and at her hackiest. Volume One brought forth the Mayfair Witches, an incestuous family in New Orleans' steamy Garden District, headed by supersurgeon Rowan Mayfair, who is putting some of the family's seven-and-a-half billion into the Mayfair Medical Institute. At that novel's end, Rowan had given birth to an ``entity'' on the living-room rug that, assuming human shape, had nearly killed husband Michael in the swimming pool, then abducted Rowan. Now the evil being--which looks like Dürer's Christ and has been using witches in the Mayfair line to have itself reborn after dying time and again since the earliest days of the Reformation in Scotland-- is skipping about Europe while trying to breed with Rowan and give birth to a female demon. But these porny pages don't arrive until we wade through 200 tediously undramatic sheets of dialogue filler quite lacking in storytelling oomph--though we are treated to teenygenius Mona Mayfair's seduction of the recovering Michael. All this is a case of background detail turning story into tapestry. Once Rice plunges us into Rowan's long rape, two miscarriages, and at last the birth of Emaleth, sister/wife for Rowan's demonic son Lasher, the novel lights up with rocket blast. How will Rowan escape her tyrant son, whose endless suckling and inseminating keeps her constantly orgasmic and horrified? But pigging out on Rowan's plight takes up only about 200 pages all told, and then more background filler--well, the novel's huge mythic underpinning- -dims our spirits, although the story of Uncle Julien, as told by Julien's ghost to Michael, dances nicely. Too much Rice-A-Roni, but addicts will lick the pot. (Literary Guild Dual Selection for November; First printing of 700,000)


Publishers Weekly
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Returning to the Mayfair clan she introduced in The Witching Hour , Rice offers another vast, transcontinental saga of witchcraft and demonism in the tradition of Gothic melodrama. The eponymous Lasher is a demon spirit who preys on female Mayfairs in his attempt to procreate. Rowan Mayfair, queen of the coven who has borne Lasher's child, has now disappeared. At times this main narrative is lost as the story moves from the Louisiana Mayfairs to the Scottish Donnelaiths and the clandestine London Telamasca society, with copious personal histories and myriad characters. Long sections ramble without a compelling point of view, and are dampened by stock elements: cliched wind storms, sexy witches, the endless supply of money the Telemasca has at its disposal. At times, Lasher is too much in evidence (rattling the china, gnashing his teeth) to be frightening. But embedded in this antique demonism is a contemporary tale of incest and family abuse that achieves resonance. It is maintained through the character of Lasher, both child and man at the same time, who manipulates his victims with his own pain. 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. Despite lapses into uninspired language, ultimately the novel is compelling through its exhaustive monumentality. 700,000 first printing; Literary Guild main selection. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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