The Witching Hour is a really long book by Anne Rice, and it has a lot of her trademark existentialist\horror\erotica themes included.

The book opens telling the story of Michael Curry, a man raised in poverty in New Orleans, who later grows wealthy restoring Victorian mansions in San Francisco. One day, while walking along Ocean Beach, he falls in the water, and drowns. When he is revived, he has clairvoyant powers that are driving him insane.

Enter Rowan Mayfair, Medical Doctor, researcher, seaboat captain and beautiful young telekinetic woman. It is she who pulls Michael out of the water and revives him. Michael tries to track her down so he can find out what may have happened in a strange vision while he was dead. Rowan has problems of her own, though, since her mother, who she has never met, has just died. She had been raised by her adoptive parents in the the city of San Francisco with specific instructions never to let Rowan return to New Orleans.

When Rowan and Michael meet, they fall in love and fly off to New Orleans.

This is just the first few hundred pages of a thousand + page book, and despite what it sounds like, it is all told very well. Part of the reason why this book drew me in when I first read it, is it never described any of the weirdness as being taken for granted by the characters. They come across as normal people who just happen to be having a few weird experiences.

Back to our narrative, Michael meets with a mysterious English man named Aaron Lightner, and they have a little discussion about the Knights Templar, after which Aaron gives Michael a thick file describing the last two or three hundred years of Mayfair family history, which is rather disturbing, being filled with murder, incest, madness, and intervention by a Spirit called Lasher. The entire history file takes the middle part of the book, and is told as an extended flashback.

The third part of the book tells of the love story between Rowan and Michael, their plans for marriage, and the unfolding of the plot of ghost like entity Lasher to control everything.

Oh yeah, and there is lots and lots of sex, most of which is, for Anne Rice at least, pretty vanilla.

As far as conspiracy theory, mindfuck books go, this one is way up there. Lasher is a genuinly creepy entity, especially since we don't know the depth of his nature (Anne Rice spoils this in later books by explicating exactly what he is, see Wharfingers Rule). And in contrast to this, the main pair of characters seem like real people. This book has what everyone genre novel should have: characters who could hold themselves up in a non-genre novel.