Top critical review
4 people found this helpful
on 31 December 2005
Anne Rice tries to meld her two most popular series in "Merrick," where the Mayfair Witches and the seductive vampires collide. Unfortunately, with a limp title character and a meandering, weird plot, "Merrick" is most noteworthy for its unrealized potential and what it could have been, if Rice had cultivated it.
David Talbot encounters his protege/semi-lover Merrick Mayfair, an octaroon witch who now works for the Talamasca. He has an odd request for her: Louis de Point du Lac, a tormented vampire, wants to call up the spirit of the child vampire Claudia, so he can be reassured of her fate. And he needs Merrick's help to do so, since she has the ability to call up and control the dead with her voodoo magic.
David reflects on his first encounters with Merrick, her trips into the jungle in search of mystery artifacts, and the malevolent spirit of her dead sister Honey in the Sunshine. Now those artifacts may help her raise up Claudia's spirit, and might give Honey's spirit a way back into the world as well. But when Claudia is brought forth to speak with Louis, what she has to say may destroy him...
"Merrick" was advertised as the spot where the Mayfair and Vampire Chronicles converged, but that's kind of misleading. Except for some mentions of Julian Mayfair, there's only a vague connection with the "white Mayfairs." It's mostly vampires and more vampires, with only the Talamasca (a sort of supernatural FBI) as a connecting point.
As always, Rice's writing is lush and brimming over with steamy New Orleans atmosphere. But she could use some editing. There are constant references to Merrick getting snockered on rum, her breasts, her clothes, David lusting after her, Louis burbling about how he loves her, and so on. And Rice seems to lose her way in the final chapters, as if she wasn't entirely sure how to wrap up what she had started.
The biggest flaw of the book is Merrick herself. She's certainly an intriguing character, a beautiful witch who wants to be a vampire, and isn't afraid to bend the men (and vampires) around her fingers to get what she wants. But she doesn't seem to have any flaws, motives, or recognizable emotions. We get no insights at all to what she's thinking. Louis is a rather ineffectual presence, and David is basically there to lust after Merrick. But Lestat's brief appearance toward the end sets the pages on fire.
While "Merrick" is overflowing with promise, hardly any of that promise is actually used. Beautifully written but poorly characterized, "Merrick" tries to cast a spell but doesn't succeed.