Incest and pseudo-incest and symbolic incest and so on have been a trope in the Gothic genre since its creation. Writing about incest, or pedophilia, or any number of horrible things is not something I have a problem with. If anything, I think it's actually important to write about them, because the unspeakableness surrounding these things doesn't do any favors the real-life victims who are too afraid to speak up as is. But, as with everything, it all depends on how it is handled.
The Mayfairs are incestuous as a general rule, but Mona is exceptional. Mona's goal is to sleep with every male member of her own family no matter how old or young they are, and she starts successfully pursuing this agenda at 12 or 13. And even when she is older (though she only makes it to 20 before, spoiler, Lestat makes her a vampire) she, according to a blog on her, "To add to her peculiarity, or rather, her desire to appear innocent, for the purpose of disguising her extra-curricular activities, Mona dressed as a young child, with sweet dresses, baby doll shoes, and ribbons in her hair." which just makes things creepier in a DD/lg fetish way.
I have noticed that Anne Rice has a tendency to find ways to make it "ok" to have sex with children by making the children not "normal" children in some way. I remember being jarred while reading Interview that Claudia (who is also much younger in the book than the movie, around five I think) is seen by Louis as having changed mentally the MOMENT she becomes a vampire, not after having lived 30+ years. I cannot quote exactly, it has been too long, but I remember there was SOMETHING squicky about the phrasing. In The Witching Hour, Julian Mayfair explains how it's okay to sleep with child prostitutes because they're not normal children, they're "whore babies" who were born in a brothel, so this is the life they're bred for, the only life they know, with the implication that it's therefore okay to have sex with them in a way that it wouldn't be with a "normal" child. So while I have not read the Mayfair Witches books that have Mona in them, I am guessing this is the case with her, that she's sexually precocious and promiscuous because she is a Mayfair and a witch and ergo it's also ok for older men, including her own family, to sleep with her. There's a quote from Mona on Tv tropes that does not make me optimistic this might not be the case:
"If there is a crime of statutory rape in this state, 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."
The idea that it's totally okay for adults to abuse children if they're not "proper" or "normal" children, and that these children are themselves happy for it and seek it out is a mentality that real pedophiles have. Hell, it's a mentality that fictional pedophiles have. The most famous one of all, Humbert Humbert of Nabokov's Lolita, believed that "nymphets" (his term for the girl children he found attractive) were fundamentally different from regular children, and a big theme of the novel is that the character of "Lolita" does not actually exist, that she is a fantasy he has projected on to the real child Dolores Haze, and the reader is meant to see through his convincing but unreliable narration to realize this. It's probably one of the most brilliant things I've ever read both in terms of artistic talent and the use of an unreliable narrators, and in terms of dissecting and criticizing this mentality, a mentality that is disturbingly shared by the general public. There is a belief that some girls, some children, are just bad, that they were asking for it, that it's different than if a guy molested a good child, and Humber Humbert deliberately exploits exactly that, claiming every step of the way that she seduced him and tried to seduce everything male she came across while Nabokov continuously works in hints to contrary. In fact, he does it too well; there's a whole lot of readers who miss the point and are on HIS side. I remember my jaw dropping when one of my uncles said Lolita was a whore. But that's not an uncommon view; it's why the term "Lolita" has come to mean exactly that, associated with the idea of a child who sexually exploits adults, rather than the reverse. It gets even more icksome when one remembers that sexual behavior from children is commonly the RESULT of sexual abuse, so Dolores and real children like her are basically being told that the symptoms of their trauma are what made them deserve that trauma in the first place.
That's not something you wanna reinforce. And I have a bad feeling that Mona is a character designed to do exactly this. She could be just echoing what she's been brought up with, because again, incest is par for the course with Mayfairs, it could be TOTALLY meant to be creepy and wrong and her unawareness is meant to play that up, but I am really, really not hopeful. I am especially not hopeful because...Belinda.
Belinda is another novel by Anne Rice. It is about a man in his 40s having a relationship with a 16 year old girl, and while I haven't read it myself, looking at the reviews on Goodreads, I'm gonna say that unlike Lolita, it is NOT a criticism of these mentalities. There are a ton of reviews talking about how great it is and how it's a love story and not about a pedophile at all...and then there's this one, which I'm grateful for:http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1623088990?book_show_action=true&from_review_page=1
Also while I would not use the phrase "male identified woman" to describe Rice or her style, the reviewer is very right that Rice strongly prefers a male viewpoint in her works, and while there's nothing wrong with a woman who likes to write male protagonists, the way Rice does it, by making everything about the man and objectifying any woman he's in a relationship with it, speaks a lot to some serious issues she seems to have with women. There's a very good in-depth post on that here:
It also gets worse in Prince Lestat as I understand it, in terms of the few powerful female vampires getting taken down by male characters, specifically Lestat of course, and this being shown as a good thing:
Oh, and bonus fun, check this out:
So, with these reminders that Anne Rice is a really shit person with awful beliefs on a number of issues, let's get to...
BLACKWOOD FARM CHAPTER TWENTY ONE
Goblin comes with Quinn to the panel of psychiatrists, and Quinn can tell he is afraid. Quinn wonders if it's possible these people could really help him, and he feels he has a new disloyalty to Goblin out of fear. Well, understandable. You don't owe your ghost rapist loyalty.
Quinn requests an extra chair for Goblin. I have to wonder if Goblin actually needs it, but he uses it and Quinn puts his hand on his knee and feels him relax, but his eyes are "chilly" as he looks at the panel. Quinn soon decides he can't expect anything "exceptional" from anyone on it and "the examination was largely an uneventful half hour." He notes that the single woman on the panel is "tentative and overeager to please, the chairman himself seems to have "terminal depression", and the other men are "young, sterile, and heartless". Besides these people, Winn Mayfair is there too, which is kinda odd to me since he's a medical doctor?
Quinn tells us he told them his "whole story" but not the details about his sexual relationship with Goblin. I feel like this "whole story" must be much shorter than the one he's given Lestat aka what we're reading or else he'd be there MUCH longer than a half hour.
The chairman says no fingerprints were found in the bathroom, and Quinn hadn't known this. Do Anne Rice's vampires not have fingerprints? Quinn points out that the intruder only put his hands on him, the chairman counters that Ramona didn't see anybody and neither did the guards, and Quinn feels hurt that Aunt Queen hadn't told him this. Quinn says that Winn Mayfair can confirm his wounds were not self-inflicted. Quinn says he then got the same questions he did at the child psychiatrist---does he hear voices, does Goblin tell him what to do, and so on.
Dr. Winn finally asks in "a very quiet and respectful voice" if he and the others could do anything for Quinn and if Quinn has questions for them. Quinn feels taken aback by this because he "never expected anything so friendly or reasonable."
Quinn: "No, I think this has gone on long enough. I presume you will confer and send us word of your diagnosis?"
Winn: "We'll do that, if you like. We thank you for coming."
Quinn: "You talk like I'm a specimen. Was I brought here for your sake or mine?"
Dafuq? Quinn, what? Listen, doctors usually do not THANK specimens, or talk to them like this. There certainly are doctors who will treat you like a specimen but nothing here read like that to me. Even Quinn didn't complain about anything in the session till just now.
Winn tells him that since this is a teaching hospital, it's reciprocal, and tells him that it's obvious he's not a schizophrenia, sociopath, or manic-depressive, and "those are the ones that worry people."
Well, what worries people isn't the same as what's important? What does that have to do with anything? This is why you're a MEDICAL doctor, Winn, not a psychiatrist.
Aunt Queen says now they can go have dinner at Cafe Luminiere, the absurdly fancy rooftop restaurant that this hospital has. Goblin holds on tight to Quinn on the elevator ride, and Quinn decides on the way that "I was going to break in Nash Penfield right. I wasn't going to let him find out about all this in a delicate manner."
Break him in. That's an interesting way of putting it.
We get to the restaurant. It's fancy. Quinn makes sure we know how damn fancy it is with its huge arched windows and colonnades and Tuscan columns and rich paintings in heavy ornate frames from different centuries and reminder this is a hospital cafe. Though it's noted that the Rembrandts are just reproductions. Aunt Queen assures him he'll see the real thing when they travel. Well, that's a relief.
Quinn says it's a "dazzling idea" for the cafe to bring reproductions of these paintings all to one place for people who don't want to 'go wandering' I think this must be his way of reminding Aunt Queen he doesn't want to travel because otherwise it's a damn weird thing to say, and AQ must think so too because she says "Now, now, toots"
Quinn tells us how the crowd is a mix of patients in wheelchairs and gowns but also people who look dressed for a night on the town. Y'know, I don't care how fancy this place is, somehow I doubt that healthy people want to eat at a hospital. You know, the place where all the DISEASES are.
"I knew it to be a boldly homogenized and democratic place, yet a place of genuine beauty and refinement"
...you know, the 'yet' there implies that the latter qualities aren't normally found with the former. Just saying.
Their table is set for four, this pleases Quinn because it means Goblin is being recognized. That is nice.
Sun-streaked windows, twinkling tights of the twin bridges, dusk, etc.
We meet Nash. Nash is taller than Quinn and has "wavy black hair with lots of gray at the sides" and is dressed in "a fine spring suit of blue and white seersucker"
Ok, this is a good enough description, let's get going---
Haha, no, it's Rice, so we also have to hear about his pale blue eyes and the lines of his face and he's slender despite a slight jowled look and his expression is "entirely wise and sympathetic" and he takes Quinn's hand "warmly" so we know he's good immediately because subtlety seriously is not Rice's strong suit and I think she gets too much credit for building 'deep' characters, because that really only applies for her MAIN characters...and applies less and less for them the longer time goes on.
Seriously, I remember reading The Wolf Gift and just being PISSED about how every non-major character was not only shallow, but the reader AND the main character could IMMEDIATELY tell if they were good or bad or what kind of personality they had. Although at least Quinn has the excuse of this being a story he's remembering and conveying to Lestat, and you know what they say about hindsight.
Quinn thanks Nash for fixing his computer. We learn that Nash's voice "had a depth and color that any man would envy. In fact , it had an effortless professional sound to it that was charming"
We are told this BEFORE Nash's first line of dialogue, which is just to say he's delighted to meet Quinn and asks if Goblin is with him. Since Nash is obviously a Good Guy, I have no doubt he will immediately believe Quinn all about Goblin with no reservation whatsoever. Quinn presents Goblin to him and "noted Goblin's cold stare as Nash tried to be courteous to something he couldn't see."
Then comes this little bit with the waitress that just REEKS of pretentious Goth "I'm so edgy and weird I totally freak out the normies teehee!" bullshit that I nearly got my eyes stuck in the back of my head from rolling them.
The waitress comes, and "I told her that an invisible person was seated to my left, and that he would be having the same meal I would be having. She was horrified."
Yeah, sure Quinn. Sorry, this just...maybe she was new and just hadn't built up her "dealing with the public even when they're weirdos" skills yet, but I still doubt she'd be HORRIFIED.
We're told that "Aunt Queen gave her immediate approval of the plan" and we're told what each and every one of them is having to drink and "the waitress departed in an anxious flurry." Yeah, sure, you're just way too out-there and wild, Quinn *yawns* I was going to say that I guess Rice has never talked to anyone in a job like that, then remembered of COURSE she hasn't.
Nash talks (with more Quinn descriptors of his 'sonorous' voice) about how he met Aunt Queen in Europe and his dissertation on if Charles Dickens had ever been edited and I feel the need to point out that Anne Rice ditched her editor after Queen of the Damned and the quality of her work has gone down ever since JUST SAYING
"I was immediately interested, and also attracted to this deep-voiced man with the gray at his temples, and I felt I could have listened to his easy eloquence for hours. In fact, I longed to do so. He had a natural wide-eyed expression when he spoke an inveterate politeness that was totally disarming."
I wanna be all SHOW DON'T TELL HERE but also since this is Quinn's first-person recounting, it does make more sense he just TELLS Lestat this instead of going over every little thing that shows this...but, y'know, he tends to go over EVERY LITTLE THING so MUCH and so OFTEN that I forget this is just Quinn TELLING Lestat a story. Not dictating an interview like Louis, not penning a memoir like Humbert Humbert, just...talking. Keep that in mind.
Aunt Queen says that as soon as Pop's will is read, they should go to Europe, Nash is for that, an says Quinn is the "perfect age" for the "Grand Tour" because he will never again be "as impressionable as he was now" and that sounds creepy to me.
Goblin doesn't like the proposal, Quinn starts trying to ask him about it and telling him that Nash (who he says Goblin is looking at as "the enemy) is good for them the way that Lynelle is good. He's saying all this right in front of Aunt Queen and Nash, and I guess it is good to let Nash see what he's getting into ASAP.
Aunt Queen says she's supremely pleased Quinn is apparently considering Europe after all. Goblin is continuing to stare, Quinn tells them that Goblin is probably just tired, Goblin reminds Quinn of how weak and faded he became in their New York trip and that "Goblin Quinn one person" Quinn says he'll think on it. Goblin talks in a "chilling voice" about how he thought Europe was just in pictures and stories before but then Lynelle taught them about it, and how it's real and far away and "No going to Europe. No. Do this and we split apart. Quinn Goblin one person."
You know, Goblin isn't just tied to Quinn, he's apparently tied to...not the Manor and it's grounds, he's here at the hospital, but apparently a certain radius within New Orleans. Interesting. I've seen lots of movies and books with a ghost being tied to a place, but never such a huge range, and never while ALSO tied to a person. It's usually either a place or a person they're haunting, not both at once.
Quinn feels his "anxiety cresting" and whispers to Goblin just to listen to Nash and Aunt Queen, that it doesn't mean they'll actually go, that he's just humoring them. Goblin calls him sly.
Nash says that he will be delighted to teach Quinn at Blackwood Farm, and tells Goblin that he wants his approval because he knows Quinn will only accept him if he approves. I'm curious what Nash thinks about this whole thing at this point. Quinn gushes about how that's right and if only Nash could see him, the takes Goblin's hand, kisses his cheek, and says "I love you, Goblin. It's love between us."
...Nash doesn't need to see THAT right away, Quinn. Or ever.
Quinn then spots "a beautiful red-haired girl" who looks "as if Fr. Kevin Mayfair had been metamorphisized into his own divine sister. She had his same clear skin with a natural blush to the cheeks and the same rich red hair; and though she had breasts large enough to please any man, she wore ribbons on either side of her hair as if she were still something of a little girl in spirit."
She has been "staring at me fixedly" and now that he's spotted her, they "locked eyes" and then she looks at Goblin, and Quinn realizes she can see Goblin. Goblin call Quinn "dull-witted" in an "icy loveless voice" and says "She has been watching us from the beginning." Quinn realizes Goblin was staring at this girl all along, not Aunt Queen or Nash.
"The shock left me speechless" and though he can tell Aunt Queen and Nash are talking, he doesn't pay attention. The man seated beside this "amazing young girl" gets up and comes toward they're table.
"He was gay-haired, informal yet dignified in a blue blazer and slacks, and very vivacious of expression and of voice as he spoke to me."
He introduces himself as Oliver Stirling, and that he's a member of an organization called the Talamasca. For those who don't know, the Talamasca is a secret society in Rice's books who investigate the paranormal, including witches and vampires. They have a hand in suppressing public awareness of vampires and covering up other supernatural stuff, and are especially concerned with the very flamboyant Lestat (who, in the Ricean universe, wrote the Vampire Chronicles and thus revealed the secret of vampires to the public under the guise of fiction)
So I find it pretty odd that a member of a secret society would just walk up and announce it. Yes, even to a guy with a ghost buddy. Just because you might want to examine him doesn't mean he has to know it, y'know?
Sterling tells Quinn he can see Goblin, and that the Talamasca is a very old order who study ghosts and those who can see them, and can offer assistance and information and that he's very impressed with Goblin.
...on the one hand, I stick by it seems weird for him to just dump all this ASAP. On the other hand, I do grant I am frequently annoyed in fiction when the characters will withhold information from others for really no actual reason. So I'm not sure how to judge this. Because, SECRET society. But on the other hand, the guy has a ghost, he'll probably be interested in what you have to say, why not put it out there?
Quinn tells Goblin to talk to Mr. Oliver, Goblin does not. Aunt Queen interjects, saying that "I really must ask you to stop" Quinn is only 18 and "you really must go through me if you want to establish any relationship with him. I don't entirely approve of those believe in the paranormal."
She doesn't WHAT?! Aside from the whole GOBLIN thing, the Blackwood Manor makes a lot of its money on ghost tours. You may not think much of them, Aunt Queen, but I bet you approve of their money.
Quinn protests that he's seen Goblin all his life, and "I beg you let me talk to this man."
However, he's looking at the girl the entire time, and we are reminded about how she has red hair and that it is held back by those little ribbons, just in case we'd forgotten since he told us this a page ago. We are also given the riveting new information that her "tresses" are long and thick and wavy and beautiful. And that she is "exquisite"
And Quinn says to her "I want to marry you. I'm in love with you."
...admittedly I think this could quite possibly be Quinn's first time as a teenage boy being around a teenage girl so maybe this isn't as unlikely a thing for him to think/say/feel as it seems.
He asks if she can see Goblin, she confirms that she does and that "he's an egregious whopper of a spirit, but I don't think I can marry you"
Quinn sees that Fr. Kevin Mayfair and Dr. Winn Mayfair are here too, and the girl introduces them as her cousins and herself as Mona Mayfair.
Kevin remarks on Quinn's old-fashion way of speaking when Quinn asks him to "properly introduce us" because I guess that's just such a super special old-soul thing to say? And yet asking Mona to MARRY HIM wasn't work remarking on?
Kevin tells Mona that Quinn takes his "familiar" with him everywhere, to which Mona replies that "That ghost is no familiar. He's much too strong for that designation." and Quinn thinks about how "Oh, I loved her voice, the lilt of it, the easy way she laughed."
...she hasn't laughed yet? But then, he's narrating this aloud to Lestat (I keep forgetting that) so he may be remembering her voice in general.
He repeats to Mona that he wants to marry her and tells us how "I had never beheld anyone as lovable as Mona, and I never would, and I was totally aware of that."
Jasmine is just good enough to fuck, but he knows upon instantly LOOKING at this white girl she's the MOST LOVABLE PERSON AND HE MUST MARRY HER just saying.
He asks her to talk in private, she understandably asks him to slow down and "You're really cut and cute but I can't just go off with you. I've got so many people watching me you wouldn't believe it."
...not because HE'S A TOTAL STRANGER but then maybe she thinks that's a safer answer to give rather than outright rejection because of how cuckoo he seems.
Quinn says it's the same with him, that "every decision is made by committee" and "Mona I adore you. Quinn then examines his hands to see what rings he put on for the "odious" psychiatrist panel and observes he is wearing a diamond-studded band, which he pulls off and offers to her.
...Quinn just goes around wearing diamond rings at the goddamn hospital, you guys.
Kevin tells Quinn to "cease and desist" and to talk to Mona in a "normal fashion" and not offer rings and "you don't even know her"
THE ONE SANE MAN HERE
I'm not even joking or trying to be ableist, Quinn genuinely comes off as crazy here, and it's NOT because of Goblin. Speaking of Goblin, Mona points across the table, saying that "your ghost" is "standing up and staring at you. He knows I can see him and he doesn't know what he thinks about it. Look how he's staring down Stirling."
Quinn says he has to learn about the Talamasca and asks Kevin what he knows about it. Kevin says he knows about as much about it as a priest can, that Stirling is a decent man and a good friend but he can't endorse the organization.
Mona says to either Kevin or Quinn, I'm not sure, that "You need someone like him. I'm too ruined for you."
Quinn of course objects to this, and says he's going to go mad, that "First it's a panel of psychiatrists, and then it's Goblin acting sullen and weird, and now you're telling me you won't even think about marrying me!"
...I don't have any words.
He begs her to just let him call on her and bring her flowers and sit with her and her mother and he'll be a perfect gentlemen
PLEASE SOMEONE SAVE THIS GIRL
Mona just smiles (because what else can she do, I guess) and Quinn tells us not only does he see the most "shadowy humor" in her eyes but also "secrets" and can I just say I hate when people say they can see stuff like secrets and intelligence and nobility in eyes? Things like amusement and sadness, ok, but more complex things, or things that aren't even emotions, it always just makes me go "that's not how eyes work" though I know that's not a peeve for most people.
She replies that "I wish to God" but explains Mayfairs only marry other Mayfairs
well I warned you guys about that, right?
The reason is "We have no choice. Nobody else understands us."
Ok but as long as you're marrying your family, I hope you're at least having babies with other people because otherwise....oh what am I saying, that's not the case and I know it. He says he understands her, and can't she see Goblin, and she says yes she sees lots of ghosts and "maybe you and I could just play for awhile"
SHE SAYS THIS IN FRONT OF HER FAMILY MEMBERS, ONE OF WHOM IS A PRIEST, AND QUINN'S ELDERLY AUNT
ANNE RICE PLEASE I THOUGHT YOU WERE WRITING WEALTHY SOUTHERNERS HERE
she's something of a recluse as I understand it and I think that really explains a lot about how she thinks human interactions work
then again, maybe she does know how NORMAL PEOPLE would react to this, because Kevin says that's not a good idea and that AQ is "getting pretty heated over there" and that it's time for him to "restrain Stirling" and that he thinks Stirling thinks Quinn needs him.
Kevin tells Mona or Quinn, I'm not not sure which, to come back with him, Quinn whines he doesn't even know where Mona lives, Winn has "cold and impassive" eyes, Mona gives Quinn her address in the Garden District.
Stirling, meanwhile, is telling AQ that the Talamasca only means to help people, as it can feel very isolating to be someone who sees ghosts, and Quinn agrees with him.
...I personally think being the only child on a manor far from where anyone else lives was probably isolating too.
Goblin is "staring down coldly on the proceedings" and then looks over at the "blossom of loveliness that was Mona."
I repeat, I don't think Quinn has ever met another teenager, and that explains a lot about this.
Stirling gives Quinn a card and tells Quinn to call him if he ever wants to talk and if "Mrs. McQueen" will allow it. AQ says she despises having to be rude but wants Stirling to "leave my nephew to his destiny." Stirling says that the phrase "his destiny" has "such a ring to it" Quinn agrees, and tells AQ he's in love and to turn her head and look. AQ does, and says:
"Good Lord. It's a female Mayfair."
I don't know why I love this line so much/find it so funny.
Quinn demands "What kind of remark is that?!" while Kevin chuckles and says "Now Aunt Queen, you've always tolerated me very well" to which AQ replies he's a priest "but we are talking about your cousin Mona, if I'm not mistaken? Yes, Mona, and that is an entirely other matter. Darlings, I think it's time for us to go home."
Quinn asks what's happening, she says they're leaving and tells Stirling "I wish I could say it's been a pleasure." Oh, yes, that super polite buuurn only an old Southern lady can deliver.
Stirling gives AQ his card again, Quinn and Mona look into each other's eyes and she telepathically reminds him of her address. Goblin vanishes, Quinn is rushed out and "never had I felt such angry bewilderment."
He demands they stop when they get to the car, telling AQ and Nash that Goblin must be off "plaguing" Mona. But then Goblin is at his ear, calling Quinn a fool and saying he wants to be with him, not her, "She doesn't love me. I'm not hers. I am with you. I am yours. Quinn and Goblin one person."
Quinn says "Thank God" and Quinn "cried like a little boy" in the "big stretch limousine"
Quinn cries that "You don't understand. She saw Goblin. And I'm in love with her. She's the most radiant gemstone of a creature that I've ever seen."
....I feel really bad for Mona, I don't forsee the future going well for her.