Literature / Lives of the Mayfair Witches
The Lives of the Mayfair Witches
is a trilogy of books written by Anne Rice
, author of The Vampire Chronicles
. The series centers around an old family of witches — the Mayfairs — and their involvement with a spirit called Lasher. The books are:
- The Witching Hour (1990)
- Lasher (1993)
- Taltos (1994)
This series provides examples of:
- Bad Powers, Good People: Rowan Mayfair, dedicated surgeon and benevolent by nearly unanimous vote, has telepathy, Healing Hands, a 'diagnostic sense' that assesses others' chances of survival... and a telekinetic killing power that causes brain haemorrhages or heart attacks.
- Big, Screwed-Up Family: The Mayfairs.
- Body Surf: Lasher takes over Rowan's baby, turning it into a Taltos. He also temporarily borrowed Julien's body on several occasions.
- Burn the Witch!: People tried to do this to Suzanne Mayfair, only to have her sic Lasher on them. Janet, Ashlar's lover, is burned after she starts talking about the Taltos's old ways in front of the Christians.
- Carpet-Rolled Corpse: Carlotta Mayfair murdered a Talamasca agent by trapping him in a heavy carpet and leaving him in the attic to die.
- Chained to a Bed: Rowan by Lasher to keep her from escaping.
- Clap Your Hands If You Believe: The scope and power of most Mayfairs' psychic abilities is directly affected by their willingness to accept that they have them. Extremely powerful Mayfairs like Julien and and Rowan are simply so strong that only willful denial keeps them in check. Once Rowan accepts that the deaths she's caused were not just coincidences, she is able to kill at will. In a fit of rage when Lasher was gloating about having killed one of Julien's lovers, Julien truly focused his will and was able to both see and directly attack Lasher for the first time. Most other Mayfairs are superficially aware that they have latent powers, but doubt them and instances in which they manifest. Lasher encourages this, as a huge family of psychic witches would be way beyond his control. Thus, most Mayfairs treat the family history as peculiar legends or believe that only certain members of the family had real powers.
- Deal with the Devil: Lasher offered the Mayfair family wealth and power if they helped give him a new physical form. Slightly complicated because he never actually made a deal as such; he let them think he only wanted to serve them when in fact he was manipulating things in his own favour.
- Death by Childbirth: Most women suffer this after sleeping with a male Taltos. When Lasher attempts to create more of his race by raping other members of Rowan's family, they all miscarry and hemorrhage. Only Rowan survives, but she has to have a hysterectomy afterwards. Mona also survives giving birth to Morrigan but she becomes very ill over the next six years until her vampire transformation.
- It's likely the only reason Rowan survives is because Emaleth gave Rowan her breast milk to heal her.
- Despair Event Horizon: Ashlar, after his decision to convert his people to Christianity led to them being mostly wiped out. Summed up thusly:
At that moment I wanted no more of life. I wanted no more of suffering or death, or of the best of intentions resulting in abominable ruin.
- Drop the Hammer: Michael kills Lasher with a hammer.
- Energy Beings: Lasher and other spirits, although they do contain a minute amount of matter. Many (perhaps all) of them are the souls of dead sentient beings which have for one reason or another not Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence.
- A Fête Worse Than Death: The Talamasca pretend to hold a wake for Aaron in order to keep Tommy and Marklin from escaping so they can confront them with what they did.
- Flashback: Multiple times.
- For Science!: Stuart's reason for killing people and manipulating events to get Lasher for Tessa.
- From Bad to Worse: Most of Lasher's backstory.
- Good Powers, Bad People: Several of the Mayfairs have a strong talent for healing, and a penchant for creepy or downright monstrous magical experiments.
- Heroic B.S.O.D.: Michael goes into a depression after Rowan leaves with Lasher, and it takes Mona sleeping with him to snap him out of it. Rowan goes into one of these between Lasher and Taltos after killing and burying Emaleth, her daughter by Lasher.
- Hollywood Heart Attack: When Stuart pulls a gun on them, Rowan uses her powers to make him have a heart attack, and has unintentionally caused similar incidents to happen to several other people during the course of her life.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: Lasher cultivates this attitude in most Mayfairs, since he wants to use them in his breeding program, but not have them running around in full control of their psychic powers. A majority of them prefer being just wealthy high society types and have no desire to be witches or deal with the supernatural.
- Incest Is Relative: The Mayfairs. Even Michael turns out to be descended from Julien by one of the maids.
- Many notable Mayfairs are the result of incestuous unions. Jeanne Louise and Peter were born out of a union between Petyr van Abel and his daughter Charlotte. Angelique Mayfair is the daughter of fraternal twins Jeanne Louise and Peter. Mary Beth Mayfair is the daughter of brother and sister Julien and Katherine Mayfair. Stella Mayfair is the daughter of father and daughter Julien and Mary Beth Mayfair. Antha Mayfair is the daughter of brother and sister Cortland and Stella Mayfair (In Lasher, Julien says he is the father of Antha, but he was dead many years before she was born). Deirdre Mayfair is not a product of incest but her daughter, Rowan Mayfair, is the product of a union with Deirdre and her grandfather Cortland.
- Kissing Cousins: Mona Mayfair, who is determined to sleep with all her male cousins. She also considers it with some of the female ones.
- Last of His Kind: Ashlar, until he finds out about Morrigan.
- Living MacGuffin: Tessa, and later, Morrigan.
- Medicate the Medium: Carlotta has this done with Deidre. It fails to have the desired effect however, as Lasher is, if anything, able to materialize more often because Deidre has no conscious control over her summoning of him.
- A Million Is a Statistic: The deaths of the Taltos.
- The Nose Knows:
- When Rowan and Michael come back from meeting with Ashlar, Morrigan smells his scent on them, recognizes it as another Taltos, and goes nuts. When Ashlar comes to visit, wondering why they haven't called, they scent each other, and end up running off together.
- Mona (and later Mary Jane) can also pick up Lasher's scent, leading the former to realize he's been attacking the Mayfair women (and nearly got her.)
- Older Than They Look: The Taltos, who remain young and beautiful as long as they live.
- Our Fairies Are Different / Our Elves Are Better: The Taltos are Elves/Fairies in all but name, and they are horrified by the "Tiny, hairy, warlike ones."
- Psychic Powers: Rice actively avoids using Functional Magic in this series as well as in The Vampire Chronicles. All preternatural phenomena and abilities are explained in psychic terms.
- Most Mayfairs possess at least some degree of Telepathy, which usually includes the ability to sense and communicate with spirits. The more powerful ones also have various Mind over Matter abilities, including telekinesis, pyrokinesis, psychic healing and (in Rowan's case) the ability to kill people with her mind.
- Mary Beth, Julien, and Cortland all appear to have been capable of Astral Projection, or teleportation, or passing completely, implausibly unnoticed when it was convenient.
- Michael temporarily has psychometry after he nearly drowns, but quickly gets annoyed by people asking him to touch things. He loses this ability when Lasher tries to kill him.
- Taltos, vampires, and some witches have Aura Vision. Witches, especially the Mayfairs, are easily recognized by the Taltos and vampires because to their eyes they appear to glow with a brightness relative to their potential power.
- Rapid Aging: A newborn Taltos grows to the size of an adult in a matter of hours.
- Reincarnation: Stuart Gordon believed that Tessa was remembering things from past lives, not considering the possibility that she saw them firsthand.
- Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere: Stuart's two followers, Marklin and Tommy, end up trapped in one of these for betraying the Talamasca.
- Stalker with a Test Tube: Stuart, who wants to see a Taltos birth for himself.
- Summon Magic: A lot of witch-magic involves summoning spirits.
- Super Breeding Program: Basically what Lasher is using the Mayfairs for.
- Switching P.O.V.: Several times.
- Tangled Family Tree: Cousins having sex is the low watermark in this series. It gets a lot more hardcore. Julien alone manages to impregnate his sister, cousins, and some of his children.
Mona Mayfair: Michael, for chrissakes, if there is a crime of statutory rape in this state (Louisiana), you'd have to get a lawyer to look it up to be sure. The age of consent between cousins is probably ten, and there may even be a special law on the books lowering the age to eight for Mayfairs.
- Teen Pregnancy: Mona ends up pregnant by Michael, and gives birth to a Taltos daughter that she names Morrigan.
- Witch Species: Never outright stated that they're wholly distinct from humans. Considering they're genetically compatible with Taltos, they must be at least a different sub-species.