And there is a good deal of that in Blackwood Farm. It's not like the whole thing is bad. A lot of it is not. I just feel like it's not as good as it COULD be. Basically, one more reason she should go back to using an editor.
But yeah, I feel like the story is really NOT progressing at a decent pace, it's the middle of the book and the stage is still being set.
BLACKWOOD FARM CHAPTER 25
"Aunt Queen and Jasmine didn't let me down. Whatever Aunt Queen's misgivings about Mona, she would not hurt Mona's feelings. When we arrived, Aunt Queen, with open arms, welcomed Mona into the house, and when I announced this was my future bride Aunt Queen received this information with sublime equanimity."
Meaning, Aunt Queen understands he's a teenage boy with his first crush. Although being the old timey Southern dame she is I am rather shocked she is letting him have a young lady stay the night. But then, she's one of the good guys so she has to approve of everything Quinn does, I guess. Like how she could never possibly be homophobic! Not that a rich old Southern woman HAS to be homophobic, just, it feels kinda convenient, know what I mean
Mona's newly-bought clothes are all waiting for her in Pops room, and then they go to dinner.
Quinn says he doesn't remember what they ate (gee, what a shame, that's so important too!) because he was too busy watching Mona and how she eats and how she holds her cutlery and how she talks and how in love he is with her and how it even "utterly erased my habitual panic" as well as his fear of the mysterious stranger even though, he adds, the security guards are still around.
Aunt Queen wants to see him alone but "I graciously declined" and also Jasmine is wearing a light navy suit and crisp white blouse and looks "stunning" even though she's clearing the table. Quinn thinks how he's "ready to lock the whole world outside if I could do it"
Hasn't that kinda been his life as is already?
Mona explains to him that he cousin Pierce who she is "probably" going to marry is "a loaf of whitebread" and "utterly boring" meaning that, unlike LKH, she realizes what the phrase "whitebread" actually means. She says he is a lawyer and has no paranormal powers whatsoever. I wonder if these are supposed to be the things that make him boring? Because one of my pet peeves in paranormal fiction like this is the idea that anyone "normal" is automatically boring (with the exception of the heroine, who can be a normal human, but must hook up with a supernatural man of power and status, never another normal human) Many writers, in fact, rely on this to the point of their supernatural characters being very boring people because they assume that just being supernatural (and hot) is enough. I think it might be an effort to appeal to the sort of people they assume are reading their books---young and probably kind of weird/nerdy/gothy/bookish/antisocial---a
She mentions another "loaf of white bread" named Ryan who is Pierce's partner in the law firm Mayfair and Mayfair, calling him "my beloved Ryan" and saying that "their life is just a direct line to conformity and security."
Well, there's nothing so wrong with that, especially not the latter aspect. I imagine it's easy to sneer down your nose at security when you're super duper rich, though.
Sorry, I'm probably jumping the gun on this, I just...really hate when any characters who could be reasonably described as "well off" lambaste anyone else for wanting stuff like nice things or a secure job or a comfortable, predictable life. They don't SEEM like grand romantic dreams, but for a great many people, they actually are. Not that I expect someone with Mona or Quinn's background to understand that, of course, so it's hardly an out-of-character thing for her to say, especially considering she's super special Ophelia or whatever.
Quinn asks "why the hell" she is marrying him. Mona says that she loves him but is not in love with him, that he's beautiful to her but not beautiful like Quinn, or even tall like Quinn, which I guess is what matters, but beautiful in a calm way. And also that with Pierce, she'll probably be able to do what she wants, since Pierce is not intense and "I have enough intensity for three people."
Quinn concludes "so this is a safe marriage" to which Mona replies "it's a Mayfair marriage. And Mayfairs like me always marry other Mayfairs."
Oh, so it's NOT just Mona who obsessively sleeps with her cousins, the whole family does that. I will give Rice this, at least she's not applying the "incestuous Southerner" stereotype to POOR Southerners like it's usually applied. I guess it's more glamorous when rich witches do it instead of gross hillbillies.
Quinn says she's using the word "witches" again and asks if Father Kevin and the rest of her family uses it. She laughs and explains that the whole family does use it, probably on account of the Talamasca, specifically a member named Aaron Lightner who "we all loved" but who died in a terrible accident, and now it's Stirling who is "our friend" and also uses that word.
I think I remember Aaron from another book, possibly The Witching Hour, which is the first Mayfair Witches book, but I can't remember shit about him except MAYBE Rowan Mayfair had sex with him and his death had something to do with that story but I'M NOT SURE.
She says that Talamasca has been keeping an eye on her family for centuries and they never knew it, at least not most of them, and once the modern Mayfairs had read all the material collected about them, they gained a better understanding of their history and do refer to some of their number as being witches.
Quinn is "too intrigued to put another question" and instead tells us about how Jasmine had put out a big pot of coffee with sugar and milk available and how annoying the china cups being so little is. Yeah, THAT'S totally what readers want to know right now!
Mona explains that a witch is a human who can see and command spirits, and Stirling's theory is that it's from something in the brain "rather like a person's ability to see fine gradiations of color" but since they can't study those receptors in the brain it's unknown and mysterious. Rowan Mayfair agrees so she's doing lots of mysterious research on it, and the Mayfairs are so damn rich she doesn't need grant money and thus doesn't have to answer to anyone and can do whatever she likes in her lab and Mona wishes she knew what she was up to. Mona says she doesn't want to make her sound like Dr. Frankenstein but uh she kinda just did. Secret and mysterious research that even other Mayfairs don't know about and emphasized freedom that she doesn't have to answer to anyone? Yeah, sorry, that sounds shady. But Rowan is a good guy (she's the protagonist of the first Mayfair book) so probably not.
Quinn asks what she's doing if she can't cut into the actual brain tissue to study the receptors and Mona says there are brain tests that can be run. Quinn remembers these were done on him and no abnormalities found in his.
...I'd like to point out that if nobody knows what Rowan is doing, she just might be cutting into brains. Just saying. And it wouldn't necessarily be a horrible Dr. Frankenstein either, people do leave their brains to science. Most won't be witches, of course, but they could still be a...control group, is that the word?...to compare against.
Mona tells Quinn that Rowan is "searching in ways that aren't routine" and I'm starting to think she knows more about this than she claims. She also says there are blood tests "on those of us who have abnormal genes. Yeah, abnormal genes, that's how you'd put it. Because she see, some us do. That's why my marriage to pierce will almost certainly happen. He doesn't have the abnormal genes but I do. So it's safe for me to marry Pierce. He's got the clean bill of health. But I wonder, sometimes...maybe I shouldn't marry at all."
You know, Mayfair family, this may be a sign to stop marrying only other Mayfairs. Just a suggestion, guys. If this has become such a concern and all.
Quinn says he has good genes, why can't she just marry him. She stares at him a "long moment" and he asks what is it, she says she was wondering what it'd be like to be married to him. She also says that the "clean bill of health" doesn't matter because they'd "surely" have witch children. I can't totally tell if this is good or bad. I guess bad, since she's marrying the guy with no paranormal powers. She tells him to give up, and that she's only fifteen.
Quinn is surprised by this, then tells her he's eighteen and "we're both precocious" so therefore their children will be geniuses.
...not sure that's how it works. Also, I don't think either of them are remarkably smart anyway.
Mona adds that their children would have private teachers and travel the world, and Quinn tells her they could travel the world themselves now with Aunt Queen and Nash. Mona says that would be "a dream" and how she's been to Europe with Ryan and Pierce and "could go again and again and again". She also randomly mentions now that Ryan is Pierce's father. For some reason it weirdly bugs me that when she first introduced them, she simply described him as Pierce's partner in the law firm and not his father. I don't know why but something about it seems unnatural, that she doesn't say initially he's Pierces father as well. It's a small thing to focus on, it just seems odd.
Mona is sure to note that while Pierce and Ryan are the family lawyers but they have a "big family firm of them" too, Ryan is just the "big" one. Reminder that they are SUPER DUPER RICH YOU GUYS!
Quinn says since they both have their passports they could just whisk her off with them, Mona says Aunt Queen isn't about to kidnap her and "besides, the family would come after me." Quinn asks "Would they really?"
YES, IF A FIFTEEN YEAR OLD GIRL DISAPPEARS HER FAMILY WILL GENERALLY BE CONCERNED? AND IF SHE'S A RICH WHITE GIRL, YOU CAN DAMN WELL BET SOMETHING WILL BE DONE
Of course, the way she phrases it, it makes it sound less like concern and more like...well, like Quinn says next, like her family is a "giant prison". She says that it is more like a giant garden, with garden walls that separate "us" from the rest of the world, and is "getting abysmally sad"
Quinn asks her not to cry and passes her some tissues, saying "I totally can't bear the thought of you shedding one tear, and if you do, I'll swallow it, or I'll dry your eyes with these."
....run, Mona, run.
He asks "Now tell me why they wouldn't let you go to Europe. I mean we'd have Aunt Queen as the perfect chaperone."
It truly seems beyond Quinn why any family, no matter how normal or abnormal, wouldn't want their 15 year old traveling in another country with people they don't know. I mean, the Mayfairs don't seem to know the Blackwoods? Aunt Queen knew of them, but they don't seem to be friends or anything.
Mona explains to Quinn she is not an ordinary Mayfair nor an ordinary witch. She is the "Designee of the Legacy" and the Legacy is a huge fortune of billions that is inherited by a Mayfair woman every generation. Right now the heiress is Rowan but Rowan but Rowan can't have children and thus Mona has been named to succeed her. Quinn concludes that "They're grooming you and guarding you for the day when you take over."
Of course! What other reason would there be not to let a teenager, especially one with Mona's behaviors, travel with a bunch of strangers overseas?
Mona also says this is why they want her to "stop acting wild and sleeping with all my cousins" because I guess that's also the only reason anyone might want to put a stop to that. Well, actually, that probably is the only reason the Mayfairs would object, I guess. She says she's mostly obeyed since coming back from Europe but "I don't know what it is with me and sex."
Seriously, I'm worried about Mona. I don't want to pathologize female sexuality, I truly don't, but I feel like this is concerning for a 15 year old, even though she does seem to be being safe with the condoms. But also not very safe in terms of going somewhere alone without telling anyone with a boy she met yesterday.
She explains she's to "occupy a position of honor" and "that's why they wanted me to go to Europe, to be educated and cultured and--"
Then she cuts herself off and her face "goes dark" and tears well up in her eyes. Quinn says "Mona, tell me."
She shakes her head and "her voice was breaking" as she answered "Something bad happened to me."
I won't lie, my immediate though is she was raped/sexually abused, probably by a family member because the kind of closed-off no-outsiders practices they have seems like it sets it up really well for that.
But it's not that, turns out.
Quinn leads her away from the table and they go to his "fancy bed" and lie together in a "nest of down pillows" and that sounds nice and...then he starts kissing her and unbuttons her blouse and starts groping her titties.
Sensitive, Quinn, A+ job.
But they "tapered off" because Quinn is tired so he brings it up again and is like so something bad happened?
Because I guess if they're not gonna get hot, he might as well ask then. But only because he's too tired for more. Jeez, Quinn.
She's silent for a long time and starts to cry again. Quinn says if anyone hurt her, he'll hurt them, that Goblin could do it. She tells him, "I had a child."
She tells him that the child wasn't normal, that is was "very precocious" and a "mutation" but that she "loved it with my whole soul" and "it was a beautiful child" but that it was taken away from her and she can't stop thinking about that.
Quinn is "appalled" that her family has so much money and still made her give up her baby. She says that it "wasn't like that" and wasn't the family that was responsible and "let's just say that the child was taken away, and I don't know what happened to it."
If this was a different kind of novel, I'd think it was probably Social Services because the Mayfairs are not a healthy family, and I don't mean that in the sense of genetics.
Quinn asked if this was the father's doing, and she says "No. I told you this was something terrible. I can't tell you all of it. I can only say that at any time I might hear about that child. That child might be returned to me. Some news might come, good news or bad news. But for now, there's nothing but silence."
Okay, going off what little I know/remember from having read Wikis on Mona, I think her baby was a Taltos, which is like a super witch, and I think that's also what Rowan gave birth to in The Witching Hour and that's what killed Aaron Lightner and made her unable to have children further. I think.
Quinn asks if she knows where the child is and says he'll bring it back. Mona tells him he's so strong and confident and how "marvelous" it is to be with him, but she doesn't know where the child is though she thinks it may be in England and was "sort of looking for it" when she was in Europe but there is "no word from the man who took it"
Quinn says this is ghastly but Mona says it's not how it sounds, that the man was a loving man and the child was "exceptional". Her voice breaks as she says "I didn't want to give it up, but I had to. It had to go with this loving man, this gentle man that could care for it."
Quinn wants to find the guy, Mona says they used to know how to reach him but now they can't, and that her cousins Rowan and Michael, who are currently her foster parents, knew him very well. I figure this means he's probably someone we also met in the previous Mayfair books, which could also be why he's thus far not named. Quinn insists on letting him find the baby, but Mona tells him that the Mayfair family has used all its resources, and that she doesn't want him to do it, to even think about it, just to listen to her and promise not to tell anyone else what she's confessed to him.
He kisses her, says he understands (which I must note is technically not promising!) and says "we'll have other children, you and I". She says that would be lovely, they undress each other, snuggle up, and sleep.
He dreams about Rebecca, and having a fight with her, and "she went wild against me" and he pushes her down the stairs and tells her she has to leave Blackwood Manor, that she is dead and must accept it. She sits at the bottom of the stairs and cries and Quinn says "You can't come anymore. The Light's waiting for you. God's waiting for you. I believe in the Light."
Well, you're not dead, Quinn, and maybe Rebecca knows better when she's ready than you do. I mean, this is a big decision and she does have all eternity to make it, so what's the rush? I reckon there's no punishment for showing up late at the Light, is there?
Then the living room is filled with mourners saying the Rosary and the Hail Mary “and then I saw Virginia Lee sit up from her coffin again, her hands clasped, and at once she made her graceful ballet step to the floor, her skirts, billowing, and she came to snatch up Rebecca, and together they were hurtling through the front door of the house.” Virginia shouts at Rebecca “You come again to trouble my house, do you? You bring me down from the Light!”
I love how the afterlife is apparently something you can just pop on down from to smack a bitch when you get pissed off enough.
Rebecca screams back “A life for my life! A death for my death!” and Quinn wonders if it's his life she wants, how nothing satisfies her.
Virginia comes back and taps Quinn on the shoulder, very “lively and pretty” in her blue funeral dress and tells him to leave this place, that there is evil here and the evil wants him.
Then Quinn wakes up covered in sweat. Goblin is sitting in the corner by the computer watching him, and Mona is asleep beside him. Quinn takes a shower and Goblin is there as he gets dressed. He doesn't seem as solid or look “as mean” as before and “I prayed he couldn't sense my apprehension”. Quinn is “grateful” that he doesn't seem as solid as usual. I'm guessing it's from the whole being, you know, raped by him thing, but maybe it's something else since I don't know how much Rice intends it as rape per se. I think she might intend it, but I'm not sure.
He asks if she loves Mona too. Goblin says “Mona is good. Mona is strong. But Mona will hurt you.”
Quinn replies that he knows this, that Goblin hurts him too when he's unkind but that “we have to love each other.” Goblin says Quinn wants to be with Mona alone, Quinn asks “wouldn't you if you were me?” and “I had never seen such a face of trouble on him as I saw then. I had stung him and I was sorry for it.”
Goblin answers “I am you” and the chapter ends. If I didn't already know what Goblin actually is, I would be VERY intrigued at this point indeed.
I realize this has become more a chapter-by-chapter summary than a spork, but the fact is Anne Rice *is* a better writer than LKH, and plenty of her chapters are just fine. My apologies for lack of entertaining snark! I just prefer to save that for when I feel it's deserved.