A Critical Look at Blackwood Farm

~1800 words :: Vampire Chronicles :: Louis/Lestat :: 10/14/02
Louis and Lestat read (and mock) reviews of Anne’s newest book.


“Louis, that new book is due to be released on October 29th,” Lestat shouted from the computer room.

“I told you, I don’t want to hear anything more about those books or about that woman,” Louis replied. Lestat wished he was in the bedroom with Louis so he could have seen the look on his face when he mentioned Anne. Louis was just so cute when he was angry.

“Come on, it’s fun. Look, there’s a bunch of blurbs up on Amazon and Barnes & Noble already. There’s even a review by someone who claims to have read an advanced copy. Aren’t you in the least bit curious?”

“No.”

Lestat pouted. This really just wasn’t as fun all alone. Then an idea came to him and a slow grin spread across his face.

“Oh my God!” he shouted in his most dramatic voice. “Louis, no…you…and Merrick…” He trailed off and waited.

One, two, three…

Louis was at his side in what had to be record time, even for an immortal. His eyes blazed as he scanned the screen trying to find what Lestat was getting so worked up over. “What about me and that bitch?”

“Witch.”

“Whatever. What about her?”

“Nothing. You’re not mentioned at all, neither of you.”

Louis’s eyes narrowed dangerously. “So that was…?”

“A ploy to get you down here, yes.”

“Bastard.”

Lestat grinned and pulled Louis onto his lap. “Come on, Louis, you’re just upset because of what she wrote about you last time. Look, I’ve had to put up with it for years and you don’t see me holing myself up in the bedroom and refusing to even look at the reviews.”

“Merrick is just a bad Mary Sue. I would never…ugh. And kill myself? I’d kill her first.”

“Yes, cher, I know,” Lestat said soothingly. “Just put it out of your mind. These books, the movies? It all goes in the same category as bad fanfic, so let’s get what enjoyment we can out of it.”

“What enjoyment?” Louis asked suspiciously.

“You don’t need to take that tone with me,” Lestat said. “Here, let’s read this first one.”

In the past few years, many fans have sworn off Anne Rice, flinging her later novels against the wall with cries of ‘First draft!’ and ‘Never again!’

“I’ve done more than that,” Louis noted.

“Yes, well, and I think setting the Merrick display at Borders on fire was more of a me type thing to do, but no one can argue that you had just cause.”

“It wasn’t just because it was about me this time, Lestat. It was just the last straw.”

“I didn’t say I blamed you, did I? Pain in the ass to take care of everyone’s memories, though. Next time you want to pull a stunt like that, do it when the store’s closed.”

Lestat hugged Louis and turned his attention back to the screen. “So they’ve established that the past few books were a pile of shit. Now what?”

But these same fans may want to take a chance on her Southern gothic Blackwood Farm, a fast-paced and erotically charged, though uneven, novel of the Vampire Chronicles. Blackwood Farm has an unusual flaw: it isn’t long enough. Many of its triumphs and tragedies demand more development than they receive. Motivations are sometimes unlikely or unexplained, and the ending is far too rushed,” he read.

“Um…didn’t,” Louis scanned the article for the name of the author, “Cynthia here notice she just contradicted herself? First she implies that Blackwood Farm won’t be met with cries of ‘First draft!’ but then goes on to say it’s underdeveloped, rushed, and much is left unexplained?”

Lestat shrugged and continued reading.

Blackwood Farm introduces Quinn Blackwood, the sexy, eccentric young gentleman who becomes both a vampire and the heir to the Blackwood estate. All his life, Quinn has been haunted by Goblin, a doppelganger no one else can see–or believe in. But Goblin is real, and he is becoming maliciously tangible, strengthened by the blood that Quinn unwillingly drinks.

“Just what we need, another new character. Hey, maybe you can fob Merrick off on him!” Lestat said brightly, earning himself a thwap to the head.

“Fine then, be that way,” Lestat sulked. He was just about to go on to the next section when he noticed something. “Hey, Quinn’s unwilling to drink blood. Sounds like someone else I know.”

“Haha,” Louis responded sarcastically. “I’ve been over that for so long; she’s the one who can’t let it go, not me.”

“No need to get all defensive. You don’t have to tell me you’re over it.” Lestat leered.

Rolling his eyes, Louis continued to read. “Quinn’s only hope of liberation from his increasingly dangerous doppelganger is to find the legendary vampire Lestat.

He rolled his eyes even more and twisted around so he was facing Lestat. Putting his arms around Lestat’s neck, he settled on his best wide-eyed-innocent look and said in a breathy voice, “Oh great, big, strong, legendary Lestat! Please save me from the big bad doppelganger,” then dissolved into giggles.

Lestat swatted him. “Very funny.”

But Lestat has vowed to destroy any vampire who sets foot in New Orleans…” Louis read, looking back over his shoulder to see the screen.

“Did I say that? Note to self, kill Armand next time he stops in for a visit.”

“I think you must have meant new vampires, cher,” Louis clarified.

“But then what about Merrick? Wouldn’t I have killed her?”

Louis growled. “What, I can’t even mention her name?” Lestat protested. “Anyway,” he continued, “it makes no sense, although why I’m expecting it to, I have no idea.”

Blackwood Farm features characters from both the Vampire Chronicles and the Mayfair Witches series, but this self-contained novel makes a good entry point for newcomers to Anne Rice’s fictional world (however, Vampire Chronicle virgins really should start with Interview With the Vampire, the first in the series and arguably the finest vampire novel of the twentieth century),” Louis read. “Ha! ‘The finest vampire novel of the twentieth century’ it says!”

“Don’t believe everything you read, Louis. The woman’s obviously delusional.”

Lestat scrolled down to the next review. “Let’s see what Publishers Weekly has to say, hmm?”

Turning back around so he could get a better view, Louis skimmed the review until something caught his eye. “He falls into a passionate but fatal relationship with fifteen-year-old nymphomaniac Mona Mayfair.” A look of disgust crossed his face. “Oh God, it’s the revenge of the Mary Sues!”

“Seriously, who likes Mona? The same people who like Merrick? Ow! Jeez, you don’t need to hit me every time I say her name!”

Rubbing his head, Lestat read aloud another passage. “Once Quinn is made into a Blood Hunter by Petronia, a malignant bisexual spirit who stalks the haunted family cemetery at the edge of the swamp…

“What’s a Blood Hunter?” Louis interrupted.

“Malignant bisexual spirit?” Lestat said at the same time. “I thought that was Lasher. Who’s this Petronia?”

“Who cares would be the better question,” Louis responded.

Rice fleshes out her slim plotline…” Lestat read.

“So they’re admitting there’s no plot. Good for them. It’s the first step to recovery,” Louis said. “Oh, this one’s good, too. The durable Vampire Lestat, called upon by Quinn for deliverance from Goblin and Sugar Devil Swamp’s unholy spirits.

“Durable, that’s me. I take a licking and keep on ticking.”

“Ooh, sounds kinky.”

“Now let’s see what Booklist has to say. Hmm… Rice breathes new life into the long-running Vampire Chronicles and a gripping gothic yarn that revives the series.

“How much did she pay them to say that, I wonder?”

“Blah, I’m sick of these reviews,” Lestat whined. “They’re all the same.”

“You’re the one who was so eager to get me down here to read them.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah.”

“Okay, here. The Barnes & Noble site is more exciting. There are actually some fan reviews up.”

“Ugh, this just makes me want to vomit. I have read every single book Mrs. Rice has ever written, and loved them all? What the hell? I have heard a few people say that the Vampire Chronicles were over after Memnoch the Devil, but I have a different opinion? I thought most people said they were over before Memnoch. Unless you count the idiots who think the…Pod Lestat in that pile of shit is actually me!”

“Now who needs to calm down, hmm? Anyway, what’s she talking about with this excerpt? I see other people mentioning it, too.”

“Oh, there was an interview with Anne and the first two chapters up on TheSpook.com, but they were in PDF format and I kept getting errors when I tried to open them.”

“All for the best, I’m sure. We probably don’t want to hear what she had to say about us in the interview.”

Scrolling down a little further, Lestat came to another customer review. “Finally!” he exclaimed. “Someone with half a brain! Let’s see what Lisa says.”

Mrs. Rice’s last few novels have been trite, boring, badly written, and completely uninspired,” Louis read.

“Preach it, Sister!”

Quinn Blackwood recites his story to Lestat (who just sits and listens). Maybe you lapsed into a coma again and Quinn just didn’t notice?”

Lestat burst out laughing, nearly unseating Louis from his lap. “Narcolepsy,” he managed to choke out.

Louis waited patiently for him to calm down before proceeding. “As with all of Mrs. Rice’s latter novels, actions of well-known characters are completely unbelievable.

“I really like this girl,” Lestat said. “It is obvious that Mrs. Rice is creatively bankrupt. Obvious to everyone but Anne herself, sadly. And the reviewers she’s paid. And the brainless wonders who continue to buy this tripe.”

He reached forward and shut down the computer.

“You’re not going to read anymore?” Louis asked, twisting around again so he was facing Lestat. He didn’t look at all unhappy about the idea.

“I just realized I’ve got the most beautiful man in the world sitting here on my lap and I’ve been wasting my time reading that trash? I can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing less,” Lestat replied, kissing Louis and running his hand up under his shirt.

“Mmm…me either.”