Now, let me tell you the reason I dislike it. It's not that I think that writers should never try to make scientificly-plausible explanations for supernatural creatures. There's a lot of instances where I really LIKE that, actually. But it has to...fit? This is gonna be more just opinion than everything else, but I feel like Rice's supernaturals are the type that work better when left purely in the realm of mysticism, outside science, outside explanations. The overall style and tone of her work just lends itself much better to that, to things that just ARE without anyone really know why they are or how they work. I am someone who usually likes explanations. But I feel like, in the case of Rice's mythology, supernatural explanations are better than “scientific” ones. For example, the first vampire being created by a spirit entering her flesh, that works for her stuff. The stuff said about ghosts here...I don't think it really does. But this is very much my opinion, your mileage may vary.
Also I don't think the science posited adds up but I don't understand enough about science myself to actually dispute it.
I just realized Hamlet is a theme in the book, like Father Kevin talks about Banquo and the ghost, I think it was quoted in Lestat's conversation with Aunt Queen, and a few other times. And I was randomly flipping through the book and came to a place ahead where Quinn quotes it at someone in anger. And, of course, Mona's shit about Ophelia. I wouldn't say that novels can't reference classical works or have them as a recurrent theme---Nabokov did that expertly with Carmen—but there doesn't really seem to be a point with how Rice does it, it's just there? It just seems kind of hackneyed and pretencious, like she thinks sticking Shakespeare in will make it classy elevated literature or somehow “smarter” and...I don't think she's pulling it off. There's still half a book to go, of course.
By the way here's a fun reminder she's a bratty vindictive person above and beyond anything LKH ever did:
I'll be honest, it kinda makes me scared to keep posting?
BLACKWOOD FARM CHAPTER
Quinn talks about how wonderful that afternoon is and how wonderful it is to be in love. He and Mona walk around Blackwood Farm and he tells her about Lynelle, Goblin, and so on. Quinn notes she doesn't find Blackwood Farm to be "vulgar or overdone" and in fact she says that big as it is she can see why Manfred didn't want to be confined, and how she and Quinn "live in houses that were built by people's dreams, and we have to accept that."
Yeah, it must be so hard to accept living in a big fancy house.
She has a whole little speech about how they have to revere the dream and someday it will go to someone else and REMINDER THAT THIS WHOLE THING IS JUST A STORY QUINN IS TELLING LESTAT like how does this work at all as a summary of someone's life that someone is saying to someone else? Just every little word for word quote and artful detail, it just...doesn't work. It's not bad writing. It's not. It just doesn't make sense for this framing device and I'm sorry to keep harping on it but IT REALLY BUGS ME. It worked in Interview because Louis deliberately prepared his autobiography to tell to someone because he wanted his life story put down, but this is being told just at Lestat's impromptu request.
Mona says that she didn't grow up rich, and was in fact a "poor kind of down-at-the-heels Mayfair" and that her parents were "spineless drunks" but even so she lived in a "huge Victorian on St. Charles" that was full of ghosts and people.
So basically, being a poor Mayfair means that you have a really big house, it's just you have to share it and it might be in some degree of disrepair.
"And now I'm the technical owner of a private plane and the designated heiress to billions of dollars" and "the switch makes me crazy sometimes" but she also always dreamed of being the Designee of the Mayfair Legacy. Well, good for her, but I'm bored about now. Not super into two rich kids talking about how rich they are, y'know? And I'm someone who normally likes reading about extravagant luxury. But this isn't really about extravagant luxury so much as just, like I said, two rich kids reminding ups they're rich.
She looks a little sad and says sometime she'll have to tell him about her family but right now she wants to know about Quinn. Aw, hell no, that's how this all got started!
Quinn thinks about how she's "absolutely brilliant" and exactly the kind of woman that he wants to marry, and this being his reaction right after she asks him to talk about himself makes him look just HILARIOUSLY egotistical. Also he tells us not only is she beautiful, it's all natural, she's not wearing a bit of makeup. *eyeroll*
"She had come out of the shower pure and young. I was captivated." Was...was she NOT young when she got in?
"It was getting dusk. The sky was streaked with amethyst and burning gold." I like this. Also, I've somehow never heard the phrase "getting dusk"
He tells her about Sugar Devil Swamp and the Hermitage and the mysterious stranger and the mauseulom, and how he was attacked. Mona wants to go out there and see this place for herself because "How can I be Ophelia forever if I fear to travel the ever-flowing streams?"
I HOPE YOU FALL IN IT AND DROWN MONA HOW'S THAT FOR OPHELIA no I don't want Mona to get hurt I just want her to drop this dumb shit. I would also like Quinn to stop encouraging it because he replies "Well, not now, my precious immortal Ophelia" because it's getting dark but tomorrow they're go and take two security guys with them so that if the stranger shows up "we can blast him."
I don't know why, especially since Quinn has a good reason to want to attack the dude now, but something about that just sounds so obnoxious.
Mona randomly asks about stairs in the Hermitage and Quinn explains yes there are and what they look like, and she repeats she wants to go there, then asks what he plans to do about the mysterious stranger. Well, shoot him, Mona, he just said that.
Quinn replies "I'm moving him out!" and that "He's already in a rage that I burnt his books. Well, when I get back out there with my men, we're throwing out his marble table and his golden chair. He'll find them sunk in the muck where he dumped the bodies."
Mona is like "What bodies?" and Quinn tells her about seeing someone dumping bodies into the swamp at night. She is of course "very intrigued" and is like "this is a killer" and Quinn says he's not afraid because after what happened in the bathroom, he knows that Goblin will protect him.
He looks at Goblin, who is watching them from a distance, and thinks "My brave companion."
My brave, rapey companion. But, unlike with Anita Blake, I feel like this could be a realistic effort on Anne Rice's part to portray a complex abusive situation and the feelings therein. I mean, Goblin has been his literal lifelong companion, clearly does want to protect him, and Quinn seems to physically enjoy the sex even if he's not consenting to it, so it makes a lot more sense he's going to maintain his feeling of love for Goblin despite what he's started doing. That's a realistic reaction. And given that Goblin is not someone he can get away from, and very few people will ever even believe exists, it's probably easier on Quinn to continue to love him, because the alternative is recognizing he is stuck with an abuser. I get this. And given that Goblin does end up a villain, if you recall waaay back to the beginning when he's talking to Lestat, I do think this is what Rice could be going for, especially as she does have a better handle on messed-up relationships than LKH does, if I'm recalling the Louis/Lestat dynamic correctly.
"She looked at the darkening purple sky. The cicadas were singing everywhere. It seemed the Earth was purring."
I really like this line.
Mona says she wishes there was time to go out there, and Quinn laughs that "Neither of us has the sense to be afraid!" Well, no, Quinn, I'd say you do, since you said you didn't want to go there at night and you wanted to bring armed guards, even though you feel Goblin will protect you. Mona doesn't have any of that going on. Yes, she's a witch, but all she can do is see spirits. Rowan could make people's hearts stop but I don't think Mona can do that. But, she's 15, and teens tend to think they're invincible, and I won't lie, if I heard about this place, I'd want to see it ASAP too (okay, maybe not with the killer stranger still around)
They laugh and laugh and Quinn puts his arms around Mona and is "happier than I'd ever been in my whole existence"
I'm gonna give you a spoiler, folks---as far as I can tell from flipping ahead and some spoilers I found online while making sure I had my facts straight on Mona, Mona and Quinn stay together. She even becomes a vampire at the end of the book so they can be together forever. So this whole insta-romance, which I could totally tolerate as a two isolated teens experiencing their first blush of infatuation and making a much bigger deal of it than it is, is in fact, I think, meant to be the genuine article. And that makes its instantaneousness really annoying and unrealistic to me. I am not a big romance fan in general, but insta-love just bugs me so much. And Rice is pretty bad about doing it, as I've mentioned before.
They walk together while he thinks of lying on the grass with her "and letting the gathering shadows be the bed curtains" which is, again, a very nice line. He tells her again how they'll go out tomorrow with the guards, and how he has a gun. She says she was taught to shoot by her cousin Pierce, and Quinn says he doesn't want to talk about Pierce and that "the marriage plan is a dreadful miscarriage of fate. I feel like Romeo standing in the way of whatshisname." Mona laughs and says it's good to be with him and part of that is because "you're not one of us."
He asks if she means a Mayfair and her "tears are threatening" again so he puts his arm around her shoulder and she puts her head on his chest and cries. He tells her to feel safe with him, she says she does but "they're going to find me."
WHAT IS GOING ON WITH THE MAYFAIRS JFC
THEY SOUND SO MENACING
I DON'T REMEMBER THAT FROM THE WITCHING HOUR BUT IT'S BEEN AWHILE and also they're such a big family these are probably different Mayfairs anyway
Quinn suggests hiding her behind a column or bolting the door to his room. She stops crying, and wants to hear about the stranger again. She asks if he could be some kind of ghost or spirit. Quinn is surprised, as he never considered that, and she says there's all kinds of ghosts and that "they differ in the illusions they can create."
Quinn says that the stranger was "too outraged by the flying glass to be a ghost" and that he couldn't see Goblin...which I guess raises the question of if ghosts can see other ghosts?
Quinn tells us that this is the time of day where he normally feels the panic, but it's lesser now because he feels he has to be strong for Mona, who has created some "sustained excitement" in him that helps banish the panic further.
Quinn tells her about the ghosts he sees at Blackwood Farm, "and how they didn't speak and they seemed a coagulated mass." Mona says that Stirling Oliver is a "kindhearted and profoundly honorable man, British to the core" I, uh, did not realize those things were connected? "and full of wonderful ideas about ghosts and spirits" Rather than immediately telling us what Stirling's ideas are though, she then says she doesn't really believe there is such a thing as a "true spirit" and believes that all spirits are the ghosts of something that once lived and died, even if it was so long ago they don't remember. Quinn says Goblin is a pure spirit and not the ghost of anyone. Goblin is some distance away; Quinn waves to him and telepathically tells him he loves him. He notices Goblin is wearing his lucky Versace tie again and wonders why.
Mona says that "you never know with a spirit. It could be the ghost of something that wasn't human" and explains how there are things that look human but aren't, who walk the Earth deliberately fooling us. For some reason, this gives me chills. I know she probably just means vampires, but, I don't know. I've always gotten the shivers from that line in CS Lewis about how "when you meet anything that is going to be Human and isn’t yet, or used to be Human once and isn’t now, or ought to be Human and isn’t, you keep your eyes on it and feel for your hatchet.” Once things like this become named and have rules and such, like vampires, they don't have the same effect, but when they don't, when they're just unnamed unknown things that look human and aren't and nothing else is specified, then they give me the heebie jeebies. I reckon that's just a natural "fear of the unknown + Uncanny Valley" response, but it makes me wonder if she's speaking of vampires or some other possible creature in the Ricean world. One that aren't just basically beautiful obnoxious humans that live a long time.
"So when it comes to a spirit, you never know what you're dealing with. It could be something good and loving like Goblin, or it could be the ghost of something dreadful that secretly despises human kind and wants to destroy it. But the main thing is to understand that all spirits have a kind of organization."
Mona then proceeds to explain the basics of what this means, according to Stirling and Rowan:
- Though they are invisible to most people, they have a "perceivable form and a nucleus of sorts in which the brain and heart reside together." This nucleus and the particles that make up a ghost are too small to be seen by humans and "the force field that organizes them can pass effortlessly through the molecules that we can see." like how water can pass through cotton or silk, hence how ghosts pass through walls.
- The way ghosts appear to people is that "it draws particles to itself magnetically and organizes them into an illusion" which can be so strong that it looks and feels solid, but is still just illusion and "when the ghost wants to disappear, or has to disappear, the particles are diffused"
- Some ghosts are so strong that they can make themselves visible and solid to not just one or two "receptive persons" but to everybody "And God only knows how many of those ghosts are walking among us"
- However "most of the time, a ghost uses his organizing principles to appear to one receptive individual" and the reason she and Quinn can both see Goblin is probably because "we have the same kinds of receptors"
Quinn says that's why they have to get married, because "we'll be lonely for understanding" with anyone else. Well, maybe you will, Quinn, but Mona hangs out with loads of people who can see ghosts, obviously---the Talamasca and her own family.
Mona says "a little testily" for Quinn to knock it off with this marriage thing, that she's going to marry Pierce, and that sure she could have an affair but she thinks Pierce would be "devastated" if she did and that her "erotic adventures" will be at end once she's wed.
...reminder that this is a FIFTEEN YEAR OLD GIRL TALKING and not, like, a young woman from several decades ago if not more. Also, how does Pierce feel about this? He works at a law firm, he must be a grown man, is he aware his TEENAGE COUSIN is dead-set on marrying him?
....then again it's Anne Rice, he's probably all for it.
Quinn responds "That's a wretched thing to look forward to. I hate this guy Pierce. Maybe I'll kill him."
BECAUSE THAT SURE MAKES YOU LOOK THAT MUCH MORE APPEALING TO MONA, I'M SURE
She says not to talk like that, that Pierce is the sweetest Mayfair and "he'll take care of me" and how he deserves someone better than her "and there are so many unsullied virginal types in the family" MAYBE HE SHOULD MARRY SOMEONE NOT IN HIS FAMILY
She then turns the subject back to ghosts. She says Stirling says that the nucleus of the ghost is the soul which refused to move on when the body died, that it's less matter and more like electricity, "something infinitesimal that is organized energy. It's all through our bodies when we're alive, but it contracts to a nucleus when we die, and that nucleus should go to the Light, as we all know."
Ah yes, as we all know. Common knowledge, that. Also I find it rather contrived that she's using the same phrase---the Light--that Quinn was all along with Rebecca. I realize it is a rather common term (Poltergeist, anyone?) but still.
"And instead of going into the stratosphere, as it should when it disconnects from the body, it stays behind, earthbound, and generates for itself a spirit body, a body of energy imprinted by the shape of its lost human body"
Into the stratosphere? So...Heaven is LITERALLY up above?
Quinn asks if it can forget it was human, and Mona thinks so, after thousands of years, and that they "began to evolve as a ghost for that person" when someone comes along who is "receptive"
Quinn asks if that's what makes her a witch, being able to see them, and she says yes, and that she can talk to them, but that she can't command them "I haven't experimented with that power. That's too dangerous a power." So it sounds less like she can't and more like she's afraid to try. Probably wise!
She makes a "sly glance" at Goblin and says he probably knows all this. Quinn says Goblin's face looks "thoughtful" and has "lost some of its meanness." I'd really like to know what it's like for Goblin, someone besides Quinn interacting with him after an entire existence of it only being Quinn.
But instead we get more dumb romance with Quinn telling Mona they must always be together because "Who else will ever love me the way you can?"
Has Mona actually said she loves Quinn? I'm not sure she has. She had sex with him, but that doesn't mean much, and she confided some very personal things in him but that might be because his life is clearly as weird as her own and also she knows he doesn't have anyone to tell. I get the feeling Mona just doesn't have the same interest in Quinn as he does in her, which could be interesting except I know that they end up together at the end of the book.
Goblin gets closer and Quinn puts out a hand, and tells Goblin "it's a different kind of love" and Mona assures Goblin she would never seek to take his place.
Quinn repeats his question to Mona, and she says "What are you talking about?" and tells him he's "tall and gorgeous" with his black hair and blue eyes and is "what the girls call adorable." I love how she's totally ducking the question and still not showing any sign of reciprocity.
Quinn tells us he loved hearing these compliments because he is "unsure" of himself, and I'd like to remind everyone of his own description of himself in Chapter Two about his "delicate" features and "precious" face and how he is "very pretty" but "too pretty" which is why he "scowled" when the photograph was taken.
...I can understand a dude being insecure if he feels he looks feminine, but a guy who genuinely hates being "pretty" and is "unsure" of himself does not describe his looks in these kind of terms. It's like when the heroine (such as, say, Anita) is trying to convince the reader she thinks she's unattractive, but the author wants to be sure that we don't get the idea she ACTUALLY is, so she just sounds super vain and whiny at the same time. Just with a dude instead. Because Rice has a real thing for pretty boys, as if that's news at all.
He tells her again to marry him, and Mona says she's "beginning to like the idea" but that she wants to keep talking about ghosts and spirits. Quinn asks if Mona believes in the Light, and Mona says that's the problem with ghosts, they didn't believe in the Light during life and so now they're unsure of it.
...you can tell this was written after Rice's return to Christianity. A big part of Interview, if I remember correctly, is how many questions there were, how little was sure, how few answers there were. It was very existentialist and I think that's a strong part of why it appealed to the Goth scene as much as vampires and blood and velvet frocks. Now it's just like, oh yeah, you're fine after death, there's definitely a soul, and not only can you go into the Light but you can just come back anyway when you want, if Virginia Lee is any indication.
Mona reiterates that the spirit just drifts around if it doesn't go to the Light until somebody sees it, and by giving attention to it its "organization" gets stronger. Quinn asks what about Goblin then, since he's not a ghost and doesn't know where he came from. Mona says Goblin's "pure spirit" then, but that spirits like him are probably organized the same as ghosts, what with the nucleus and all.
They continue to walk and can see the swamp, which looks "dark and treacherous already---full of deadly things that wanted to kill. An evening song came from it that meant death." Ehhh, I don't like this line as much as others? The first sentence is redundant and trying too hard, the second...I think it's meant to be a metaphorical song but the wording makes it sound literal which just makes me go uh so what song, is there music?
Mona says "if only" Quinn could talk to Stirling (is something stopping him? I know Aunt Queen doesn't approve but the kid has a car and a phone), how the Talamasca has always given shelter unselfishly to people who see ghosts, and how she visited their Motherhouse in England and Rome. Quinn says they sound religious, like Trappist monks, and she says "They are sort of that way, but they aren't religious. Sometimes it's hard for Fr. Kevin to accept but he's getting used to it. You know how it is with us Catholics. Anything supernatural that isn't from God just has to be evil. And here you have the Talamasca studying the supernatural."
That reasoning seems a little off; just because something is evil, studying it and learning about its nature isn't evil. I realize that of course the reasoning of characters doesn't have to be perfect (and indeed, shouldn't always be!) but don't PRIESTS have to study the nature of evil as well? Like am I incorrect on that? I don't find it unrealistic at all to believe Father Kevin believes ghosts are evil and harmful, but I'm not sure I buy the idea he believes studying them, when you know they are an objective fact, to be inherently harmful. Studying diseases isn't evil, after all, quite the reverse. And I thought of this within minutes, so I find it a bit hard to believe that Father Kevin didn't. Of course, there's always the chance his reasons are a bit more complex/sensible (within the context of his beliefs) than Mona stated. Anyway, she says he's coming to like Stirling anyway because how can you not like Stirling. I have to note that liking a person and approving of their "sins" are very different, though. But I think Rice prefers to avoid those complexities. She seems to make very ambiguous, morally gray characters on the surface, such as Lestat, and while her protagonists can indeed have the luxury of being complex, other character are largely just Good or Bad, generally in relation to how much the protagonist cares for them and vice versa.
Quinn asks about Father Kevin, Mona repeats how he's a "good priest" and how she couldn't get him into bed (maybe he's just not into TEENAGE RELATIVES like I wonder how much success Mona has had with this, because according to her it's a LOT and I'm cringing to imagine how many were adult men) Anyway, Father Kevin was born on a big house on Magazine Street, to a family of eight children, and they call them the Stainless Mayfairs "because they are all very good and never get into any trouble" and was sent up north after becoming a priest but now he's come back to teach and because the Mayfair family needs its own priest.
Quinn asks her, despite "knowing I sounded naive and childlike", why she tries to "go to bed" with so many people. I've got to say, I really would like to know this too. This isn't a normal active sex life in a grown woman, this is an incestuous active sex life in a half-grown girl. It's concerning.
Mona doesn't answer, just asks him the same in return. Quinn says he doesn't, that besides her he's only had "one of the women on the property."
And Mona says "I know. It's that gorgeous blonde-haired quadroon, Jasmine."
SHE JUST CALLED JASMINE A--
ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!
And Quinn doesn't bat an eye, just asks how she knew that. There is ZERO acknowledgement that this is NOT A WORD YOU SAY it's just---buh?! Like it's clearly not intended to reflect poorly on Mona like Rebecca's use of the n-word. And unlike the n-word, this isn't even a thing that I think actual modern-day hardcore racists even say, it's so ANTIQUATED. I've never even heard my elderly Southern grandparents say that!
I told a friend about this bit because I just couldn't believe it and they wondered if maybe Rice originally wrote this story set in the 1800s or something, and just changed it around later and forgot bits like this. That would make a hell of a lot of sense, especially since I don't think Mona is meant to be as sheltered as Quinn is, even with her cagelike family.
Anyway, the way she knows is that witches have a bit of telepathic power so she just picked that up. Oddly specific thing to pick up but okay. I guess because Quinn was thinking about it, which I can believe. She asks Quinn if "Didn't you feel that that was a road you had to travel?"
What? That what is a road he had to travel? Boning Jasmine? Whatever she means, Quinn agrees but then adds "But compared to you, I'm kind of retarded." because he's only slept with one spirit, one ghost, and two real woman.
See, that I'm not gonna raise a huge fuss on that wor because while of course it's wrong, it's something totally believable to me for a teen boy to say. Or the average adult, sadly. Though given how "quadroon" was just used, I do rather question if Rice herself knows that. She seems almost as disconnected from the present reality as her characters.
She says she can "guess" on the spirit, "but tell me about the ghost."
Quinn says he can't because they're too near her grave (they're near the property's cemetery) but that her name was Rebecca, she's beautiful, and she met her end in a cruel way, that he lost his virginity to her and she has great charm when she comes, and that speaking of charm, here comes his tutor.
Nash is wearing a three-piece denim suit. Quinn claims he looks elegant and handsome. I do not believe this claim. Quinn also thinks how he needs to learn to be stylish that. No, no Quinn, please don't.
"At once I introduced him to Mona and told him I was going to marry her. He was faintly amazed but accepted it totally seriously."
So you think, Quinn.
Nash says congratulations to Quinn and tells Mona it's a pleasure to meet her. Quinn thinks how "his mellow voice could level mountains" and how his face is only "enhanced" by its "folds and lines" and gives him "a look of wisdom."
Quinn tells Nash we're still going to Europe, just now also "stealing Mona" oh my god
Nash just says that sounds exciting and I really don't think he's taking any of this seriously, because how can you?
They all join Aunt Queen and Quinn tells Mona that the refurbished wicker belonged the Rebecca, how he saw it first in a dream where they had coffee together.
He feels the panic again as he looks at the "reddening and darkening sky" but he "drove it away" and telepathically calls for Goblin to come join them.
"I tried to smile at him, but I think he knew my multitude of fears. He could read my face if not my mind."
You know, I think the PEOPLE in this book are stranger than the supernatural stuff. Which could be a really neat twist if it seemed at all intentional!