|Anne Rice: Blackwood Farm|
A. Knopf (Hardcover), ISBN 0375411992
Tarquin, nicknamed Quinn, recently received the "Dark Gift" of vampirism, much to his dismay. To make matters worse, a spirit who befriended him in early childhood now torments him, growing ever stronger by sharing the human blood Quinn must consume to live. Driven by fear, Quinn pays a visit to the legendary Vampire Lestat, known to Rice fans as the star of many of the Vampire Chronicles. In an earlier book, Lestat vowed to kill any new vampire that wandered into his New Orleans territory, but Quinn hopes Lestat will listen to his tale, take pity on him and help destroy the spirit.
Quinn's life story, told to Lestat, makes up the bulk of the novel. His spirit doppelganger, named Goblin, looks and "dresses" just like Quinn. Quinn loves Goblin, his constant companion throughout his childhood in the manor. Booted out of every school he attended for talking to Goblin, whom no one else can see, Quinn grows up among his doting adult relatives, servants and tutors. Along the way, he wanders through the alligator-infested swamp in search of an ancestor's fabled enclave, tangles with a shadowy, hermaphroditic trespasser, copulates with ghosts and gets mixed up with the Mayfair witches (of Rice's Witching Hour series).
The Talamasca, an ancient order of psychic scholars, offers Quinn a hope of salvation. Quinn's unwilling transformation into a blood hunter at the brink of adulthood devastates him. What does a "mortal prince" want with immortality? Goblin gains power with each infusion of blood, and Quinn fears for the safety of his loved ones. Lestat's intervention brings another familiar character into the fray, and reveals the secret of Goblin's origins.
Devoted Anne Rice fans will relish the commingling of the lives of the Vampires and the Mayfair witches. Several dynamic characters not heard from since Taltos return as supporting players in Quinn's story. Readers new to Rice's work should not begin with Blackwood Farm. She weaves the plot from multiple threads of earlier books and provides little background information for the novice. As a result, those unfamiliar with Rice's elaborately crafted world may find Blackwood Farm impenetrable.
Even readers accustomed to Rice's general level of perversity may find some aspects of Quinn's life unsettling. He sleeps (platonically) with a servant through his late teens, and kisses (literally) his elderly aunt's feet. Rice suggests that these oddities are normal features of Southern life. Seems improbable.
Nevertheless, this Northwesterner loved every minute of immersion in Rice's fevered imaginings.
I am an Anne Rice fanatic, and having read everything she has ever had published I can say that Blackwood Farm is one of the best. The combining of the Mayfairs with the vampires, especially our hero Lestat, is an awesome read. Quinn has a great voice as a character and the story is enthralling from beginning to end. If you like Anne Rice, you will love this book.
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