This is meant to bring the Vampire Chronicles together with the Mayfair Witches. And it does do that...but very ham-handedly.
Quinn randomly meets Mona in the hospital cafe, is randomly besotted with her at first sight, and has sex with her the next day, and within said day is trying to get her away from her family and out of the country, and wants to marry her. Which could be done well. No, really, it could. The Gothic is a genre based on emotion and romance, so a whirlwind-but-sincere connection as lovers could be done well here if the work was put into building the proper chemistry and it integrated with the larger story.
But it does neither. There is zero chemistry building, it's really just Quinn being obsessed at random with Mona, and Mona only showing any signs of 'reciprocation' when it means escaping her family, and it bogs down the plot at length with really very little relevance to the larger story, which just goes on hold for chapters and chapters of this nonsense. It's basically the clumsiest most forced-coincidental shove-together of a witch and a will-be-vampire so that the books can merge storylines.
And it's like...a more organic way for them to meet would hardly be difficult to accomplish? Look, Quinn already knows Father Kevin. He's already told him about Goblin, and Father Kevin believes him. Father Kevin admits to believing a lot about the supernatural, and it's no surprise, given his family and that he knows the Talamasca. And Father Kevin, due to this personal connection, came to visit Quinn in the hospital after the stranger attacked him.
Why not say that despite Father Kevin's reservations regarding the Talamasca, he believed that they were the best people to help Quinn? That would be very easy and natural, much more so than his love-at-first-sight meeting with the girl who just happens to see ghosts and be the most important Mayfair witch ever. Father Kevin could bring Quinn to the Talamasca, and they would probably be most intrigued by his tale of Rebecca and the mysterious stranger he believes responsible for her death and others, and they would begin to look into with him, moving the plot along. If meeting Mona and having a romance with her is a must, that's easily done too---since she's with the Talamasca as well, he can meet her through them, and she can help solve the mystery with him, since she's clearly interested as well. They can forge a much more organic connection over time without derailing the plot, and introduce the Mayfairs and their skeevy mysteries in a much more natural, well-paced way so that it runs concurrently with the main plot, rather than pushing it to the side for chapters on end of awkward "romance" and I-just-met-you-but infodumping.
It might take a bit more effort, and I know Rice loves her insta-connections, but I really think this would work so much better for a number of reasons, and I'd probably enjoy it a lot more.
Quinn says he and AQ had "more insubstantial and agonizing conversation about the Mayfairs" before bed.
When he goes upstairs, an alarmed Big Ramona tells him that Goblin opened the window even though she shut it twice and he typed COME DOWN on the computer. Big Ramona warns Quinn he's getting stronger and stronger...which we knew but I guess is news to people who aren't Quinn. I think this is the first time anyone in his home has so openly and factually acknowledged Goblin. She tells him he's got to go to Confession and that Goblin is from the Devil.
Quinn then goes to talk with Goblin in the cemetery. Goblin believes that Quinn will leave him if he goes to Europe with Mona. Quinn tells Goblin how he's worried about him, how he's learning more things since the stranger attacked, and Quinn tries to hide his fear, reminding himself that Goblin can't read his mind, and thinking about how he's so in love with Mona he hasn't been thinking about Goblin (so, not thinking about him for like a day then) They talk a bit about Europe and Quinn promises to hold his hand there, Quinn thinks some more about the stranger and the Hermitage, and taking Mona there once the place is all fixed up and how exciting it is that she isn't afraid.
Goblin warns him: "Be careful. He comes. He thinks I don't know him and he means harm."
And then the lights go out (they've gone from the cemetery to the patio at this point) and someone grabs Quinn from behind and pins one arm behind his back! Yup, it's the stranger, back again!
Stranger tells Quinn that if he calls for help or his "spirit friend" he'll kill him and "you and all your dreams will be gone" which is kind of an odd threat/way to phrase it. Quinn is "in a rage" and says "I fought you once, I'll fight you again"
uh you mean GOBLIN did, Quinn
I'm gonna summarize, I don't have it in my for direct quotes. The Stranger establishes he's watching them by listing some of AQ's daily routines, then offers Quinn a deal: He gets to use the place by night, Quinn gets to use it by day, and Quinn is to make improvements to it. He then lists some improvements, from which Quinn concludes he was reading his mind, so I guess they're the same things Quinn wanted...which sorely makes me wish the Stranger had instead asked for super tacky hot pink and leopard and rhinestone decor so I could watch Quinn squirm with the indignity of having to indulge such bad taste XD Although to be honest, the fact that a BRONZE staircase is part of the suggested remodeling might qualify there in terms of just being so OTT in displaying wealth, especially alongside all the fine gold chairs and marble tables and such.
He also tells Quinn "I want to be friends with you" and "it's nice having my arms around you" cuz I guess he has to have a crush on Quinn too. Quinn asks him about dumping the bodies in the swamp, he laughs and tells Quinn he can take the chains in the house away, and to caution his workmen not to tell anyone about the place to people, and if they have to hire outsiders, make them locals.
The Stranger tells Quinn he knows that he's become "enamored" with Rebecca, that she wants vengeance from Quinn against those who have harmed her and will settle for Quinn's own life because he's a Blackwood, that "I warn you against her" and that Quinn's happiness both gives her strength and causes her pain. He says he's been "privy" to the dreams in which Rebecca visits and thus knows her "tawdry desires". Quinn brings up how Rebecca was tortured in chains, the Stranger asks "you defend her to me?" and Quinn responds not about Rebecca but that "you spy on me night and day" and the Stranger says "I wish I could."
Despite the story, Quinn's day to day life doesn't actually seem like it would be that interesting most of the time to me, actually, but okay.
The Stranger says that he's going to take his arms away so Quinn can turn and look at him, and if he keeps his end of the bargain he'll never hurt him, his family, "or your darling love with the red hair or her clan of witches."
Quinn indeed whirls to look at him. He is six feet tall with thick black hair pulled back in a long ponytail from a square forehead with high temples, big black eyes with dark brows that give him a determined expression, square jaw, and a "long line of a smiling mouth". He is wearing a fine black suit.
Then he is "gone as surely as if he'd dematerialized like Goblin."
Goblin himself then appears and tells Quinn that he doesn't disappear, he uses speed. Um, I thought Quinn said Goblin COULDN'T read his mind?
Goblin also says that "had I come between you, Quinn, he would have crushed you. He was too ready for me, Quinn. He wasn't afraid." which explains why he didn't intervene.
Quinn goes to tell Aunt Queen, who is having some champagne and sherbet in her chaise while she watches The Scarlet Empress while Jasmine is fast asleep under the covers, and tells her about what happened. It begins with this funny little exchange:
Quinn: "Listen, I know I'm fast losing my reputation with you as a sane person."
AQ: "That's quite alright. You have a powerful reputation as my great-nephew."
I LOVE AUNT QUEEN
Anyway he says the Stranger appeared and got him in a chokehold, and made demands about refurbishing the Hermitage and sharing it, and how he'd kill Quinn if he didn't agree. Aunt Queen is "aghast" and Quinn tells her how the strangest part is that the refurbishing requests are all things that Quinn already wanted exactly, as if he'd plucked it from Quinn's mind, and lists each thing in detail.
Again, I wish the Stranger wanted something done that Quinn WASN'T already planning on.
Quinn says the Stranger isn't human but isn't like Goblin, and so he has to go to Mona because she and Stirling Oliver will know what he is.
Aunt Queen tells him to stop raving, he'll wake Jasmine, who actually has already sat up. And despite the fact she is awake and right there, Quinn says, as if she's not there, "Don't bring her into this, she'll be a nuisance."
THANK FOR REMINDING ME HOW MUCH I HATE YOU, QUINN!
He says he's gonna write out a plan for the renovations and then go see Mona, Aunt Queen says it's midnight and "you must talk to me before you leave to see Mona."
...or...not go see her right now...because it's after midnight? Also, he is talking to her, so...?
Quinn tells---not asks---that Aunt Queen "vow" to allocate the funds for repairing the Hermitage, saying it's nothing compared to what they spend all the time on Blackwood Manor, and then remembers that he himself has the money for it and "I can afford it. How amazing." and how he can't wait to see it when it's all fixed up.
AQ is like and you're going to share if with a man who dumps bodies for alligators? To which Quinn responds, "Maybe I was wrong. Maybe something else was happening."
...I hope he's just saying that to assuage Aunt Queen, rather than suddenly sincerely dropping something he was so adamant on the moment he gets the opportunity to play house with the Hermitage.
"Now he's no obstacle, don't you see? An hour ago he was a giant stumbling block to all I dreamt of for the Hermitage. He was an invader. Now he's part of the scheme. He asked for nothing I didn't want already."
So, like, fuck Rebecca and the other murder victims, I guess?
And then he says oh by the way he's been watching us, he knows our routines. Like that's no big deal either. But Aunt Queen's expression is "dreadful" like a rational person's should be. She asks Jasmine if she's listening, Jasmine says when she's old and gray she'll be telling the tourists how Quinn disappeared into the swamp one day and never came back.
Man, if only.
Quinn goes and writes up a plan for the Hermitage renovations. He tells us all about the details of his decorative choices, but I won't bore you with that. Mainly because I don't wanna type it all out.
He thinks about how while he is afraid of the Stranger, he isn't as much afraid as he should be, that what he said to Aunt Queen is true, that he wants this renovation for the Hermitage too and now the mysterious stranger isn't an obstacle to that anymore.
Again, the issue of the people Quinn is sure are actively being killed--since he's sure he saw the Stranger dumping bodies in the swamp---is not brought up at all. I guess that's a non-issue now?
More about the renovation plans, and Goblin says "Evil, Quinn. Quinn Goblin will die in any direction."
Quinn of course asks what he means by that, Goblin says that everyone---Aunt Queen, Nash, Rebecca, Mona, the Stranger--wants Quinn, and repeats "any direction and Quinn Goblin dies."
Quinn says they'll never be separated, Goblin looks cold and dissolves. Quinn nonetheless continues talking, saying they can't be seperated, that only Goblin can make them die or divide them "and that would be by leaving me."
He's not sure if Goblin heard him but is "too madly excited to care"
Quinn gives his renovation plans to Aunt Queen and the Shed Men.
He goes back and feels a wave of giddiness and says when he looks back on this moment he remembers how in love he is with Mona and how excited by the mysterious stranger and how invincible he felt despite the "strong evidence I was not" and that Goblin's words mean nothing to him. He suspects he's just being jealous.
"Yes, I was drawing away from him. Yes, Goblin Quinn was going to die. It had to happen because Manhood was going to happen. And on the battlefield of Manhood, Mona was my Princess and the Mysterious Stranger a dark knight riding near me or even against me in a joust of which I was only just learning the rules."
I'm not even gonna make fun of this, I think it does that fine on its own. And he thinks how he and this dark knight will talk in the Hermitage and how it will turn out the bodies were just an illusion or dream. He wonders what he can do for Rebecca, since he can't give her a life, so he just says a prayer that her soul is in Heaven with God.
"Very reluctantly I lay down to sleep beside Big Ramona and when I woke it was to the murky dawn, and I had the heavy task of Manhood upon me."
Hey, so Quinn? If you wanna start on this Manhood with a capital M thing, MAYBE STOP SLEEPING WITH YOUR OLD NANNY WHAT THE FUCK MAN