Top critical review
5 people found this helpful
on 31 December 2005
The penultimate chapter of Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles inspires more boredom than thrills'n'chills. While it starts off strong, the draggy pace and boring recounting of the lead's life bogs it down, despite Rice's typically beautiful writing.
Tarquin Blackwood, a young vampire, arrives at the Vampire Lestat's apartment to deliver a letter asking for his help. Before he can drop it off, however, Lestat himself appears and take Quinn under his wing. But after the two of them feed, Lestat sees a strange spirit-like creature attach itself to Quinn, sucking some of the blood from him. This is Goblin, an invisible doppelganger who has been with Quinn his whole life.
Quinn recounts his life to Lestat: His childhood with Goblin, the invisible friend who never went away, quirky Aunt Queen and his mother, a vicious country singer called Patsy. He tells of his run-ins with the sexy ghost of his ancestor's mistress, his love for the promiscuous Mona Mayfair, and the strange events that led him to become a "Blood Hunter." Except that now that he is a vampire, Goblin is becoming more powerful -- and malevolent -- as well.
"Blackwood Farm" starts off strong with supernatural mystery and mayhem in a Southern Gothic setting, with plenty of dirty family secrets, murder and ghosts. But as soon as Lestat starts listening to Quinn talk about his life, things start to drag. It wouldn't be surprising if Lestat wandered off to watch TV during the course of Quinn's monologue. It's that dull.
Occasionally Quinn offers a tidbit that is genuinely enticing, like the intricacies of his Southern gothic family, or the clues he uncovers about the beautiful, evil Rebecca. But it often feels like Rice is trying too hard to make it all feel surreal and supernatural. Hermaphrodite vampires and sex with spirits? Her lovely prose can't gloss over the self-conscious weirdness.
And Rice's writing is undeniably lovely, full of an aesthete's love of velvets and marble and cameos and so forth. The dialogue is where she stumbles -- there's too much of it. At the start of the book, there is an entire chapter of Lestat bickering with a Talamasca. And when he decides to seduce a thirtysomething servant, Quinn has what may be the worst (and most racist) pickup line in history: "Be my chocolate candy. I'm real unsure of my masculinity." Time to swoon, girls.
It doesn't help that Quinn isn't a terribly interesting character either. He's basically a hormonal, immature teenage boy who can see ghosts. Aunt Queen, with her love of cameos, is a far more engaging character, while Patsy is fairly two-dimensional, if easily hateable. Lestat is enigmatic and alluring, for the relatively small part of the book he's actually in.
"Blackwood Farm" is too stretched out for its own good, but it's far from the worst Anne Rice has written. At the end, it feels unfulfilling and empty, like a looming mansion filled with nothing but ghosts.