Blackwood Farm

Will the Vampire Chronicles ever end? Presumably not, if Anne Rice's latest novel, Blackwood Farm, is any indication. The book not only furthers the adventure of Rice's famous "brat prince," Lestat, but continues to merge the Chronicles with the author's other beloved family, the Mayfair Witches.This latest installment introduces yet another family saga, that of the Blackwoods, a clan whose grand Louisiana home possesses almost as many shocking ancestral secrets as it does luxuries. At present, Tarquin Blackwood is the man of the manor, and quite happy to be so. He is surrounded by loyal servants, blessed with the company of his old and charming Aunt Queen, and thoroughly in love with Mona Mayfair, the 15-year-old, flame-haired nymphet heir of the Mayfair legacy.

But Quinn has his fair share of troubles, among them a vengeful ghost (to whom he gave his virginity) and the mysterious Hermitage, a home built in the middle of Sugar Devil Swamp by his great-great-great-grandfather Manfred, and filled with its own evil secrets.

Most troublesome of all is Goblin, Quinn's spirit doppelganger since birth who, while only mildly problematic throughout his life, has become violent and bloodthirsty since Quinn's birth as a vampire. It is Lestat, of course, who is enlisted to aid Quinn in his bid to rid himself of Goblin once and for all.

As enchanting as Blackwood Farm can be, filled such as it is with Rice's gift for vivid description, the plot is still thin. Most annoying of all, perhaps, is her habit of forcing flowery dialogue on contemporary characters. Everyone sounds like they just stepped off the Shakespearean stage. As for the dialogue itself, too many of the lines are so silly as to be downright laughable (Quinn to his mulatto servant: "Be my chocolate candy."). But nothing is so laughable as Petronia, the hermaphrodite vampire who turns Quinn. After being drained of his blood, Quinn is then forced to drink Petronia's vampire blood via cuts on her (his? her?) penis.

Will any of this stop Rice's most devoted fans from supporting the Vampire Chronicles? No. For those who have read all — what? Nine? Ten? — of the books, there's no turning back. And it's not so much about the vampires anymore ... not really. It's about obsession. And at the very least, Lestat, and Rice herself, still inspires that.

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