Monday, June 6, 2016

The Master of Rampling Gate Part 3

So the possibly-hallucinated vampires whisks away Julie, apparently not noticing that she's foaming at the mouth. They head right up to the ruined tower that they didn't explore... and apparently for a ruined tower, it's in pretty good repair. When I think of a ruined tower, I think of holes in the walls, stairs that will collapse if you walk on them, and so on.

Up and up we climbed until we had reached the topmost chamber, and this he opened with an iron key.

"This is my Red Room. I hope you like being spanked."

No, it's actually a very large room that the vampire has basically set up for himself, with lots of nice furniture and candles and newspapers and books and... other fire hazards. It's very potentially alarming.

There was no place for sleeping in this room.


And when I thought of that, where he must lie when he went to rest, a shudder passed over me and I felt, quite vividly, his lips touching my throat again, and I felt the sudden urge to cry.

  1. Wait... w... um... does she know he's a vampire?
  2. I know he bit her and everything, but she barely even seemed to notice that.
  3. Plus, this takes place in Victorian times, and vampires were a pretty new phenomenon in England, culturally speaking. Bram Stoker only wrote Dracula a few years before the turn of the century.
  4. Yes, I know there were two or three vampire stories before that. But Julie seems more like she'd read the period equivalent of Twilight than the actual Victorian vampire stories, which tended to not be very romantic and usually ended with somebody dead. The most romantic is Carmilla, and that was more about lesbian seduction.

So he starts smooching her for no particular reason, and then sits her down on a chair. Because yeah, she's actually more useless than Bella, so she needs to be placed in a chair instead of sitting herself. She then notices all this crap that he has lying around his tower room... and I'm just wondering how massive this tower is, because apparently this is ONE ROOM, which has lots of furniture and this guy's collection of random knickknacks.

And again... this is a RUINED tower. This thing supposedly could collapse at any moment!

Also, this is a totally irrelevant bit, but I love to imagine the vampire trying to sneak up the stairs with a giant overstuffed chair, hoping nobody will notice.

But I was too distracted now by the sight of him in the light, the gloss of his large black eyes, and the gleam of his hair. Not even in the railway station had I seen him so clearly as I did now amid the radiance of the candles. He broke my heart.

I wonder if Smeyer has a copy of this stuffed under her bed, along with all the other vampire romances she doesn't want anyone to know she reads. This whole story seems very much her style.

Then Julie has another psychotic break, where she completely loses track of where she is, what she's been doing or saying, and she sees a completely different place outside instead of the village she saw ten minutes ago. I don't think Rice was trying to convince us that this woman is completely out of her fucking mind, but that's exactly what she's showing us.

A great wood, far older and denser than the forest of Rampling Gate, shrouded the hills, and I was afraid suddenly, as if I were slipping into a maelstrom from which I could never, of my own will, return.

It's called insanity, Julie. And I'm pretty sure you're already in that maelstrom.

There was that sense of us talking together, talking and talking in low agitated voices and I was saying that I should not give in.

She is actually having an involved conversation with someone... without being aware of what either of them is saying. Was Rice just feeling really lazy that day, and didn't want to write proper dialogue, so she had her heroine fugue her way through all that pesky talking?

"Bear witness, that is all I ask of you. . ."

Is there an actual point in asking a person who is tripping balls to witness anything? She probably thinks your head is a giant cookie.

And there was in me some dim certainty that by knowledge alone I should be fatally changed. It was the reading of a forbidden book, the chanting of a forbidden charm.
"No, only what was," he whispered.

... he's reading her mind. HOLY FUCK, IT IS EDWARD!

Then the room vanishes, and she finds herself in a carriage... and since there's a mention of leaving the tower, I'm going to assume she just fugued out again and he dragged her whining carcass down to the carriage. Or is she hallucinating again? I really don't know. This story is really confusing and poorly-written.

So they go through a medieval village, which has a monastery there. I don't know why that's relevant to this vision, but we're told it is.

So they come to a castle and decide to break in and frolic around, because.... I dunno, really. It's pretty stupid, really.

to the Lord of the Castle, a gaunt and white-skinned creature standing before the roaring fire of the roofless hall, we came.

Watch out! It's David Bowie!

Wait, the vampire was sitting in the hall? THE HALL? The biggest central room of the whole castle? And they somehow didn't figure out he was there until they had run through the building for a long time?

And my young companion, my innocent young man passed by me into the Lord's arms. I saw the kiss.

"And for some reason, I thought it was really, really hot. I was going to have to write erotic fanfictions about Oliver Twist and the Artful Dodger when I woke up!"

So yes, the guy was a vampire, and he turned Love Interest into a vampire. Why? I have absolutely no idea.

And then Julie hallucinates a later date when the Black Death has killed every person in the village. Yes, literally EVERY SINGLE PERSON. Because it's not like some people are naturally resistant to bubonic plague, and it's not like the overall mortality rate was a little under 3/4ths. Nope, EVERY SINGLE PERSON in the village died, with no exceptions.

She has a weird hallucination about a dying baby being played with by a cat, and then kicks the cat across the room. Then the guy drags her out in the street, and we know he's still technically a human being because he's sweating and wearing ordinary-person clothes.

The Lord stood over him smiling almost sadly as he watched him fall, watched the chest heave with its last breaths. Finally the lips moved, calling out for salvation when it was damnation the Lord offered, when it was damnation that the Lord would give.

I get the feeling that this is Rice making some oh-so-subtle religious commentary... you know, because she's really fucking subtle about her views.

"Yes, damned then, but living, breathing!" the young man cried, rising in a last spasmodic movement.

Well, except not living or breathing, because... being a vampire means you're not living, and dead things don't have to breathe.

So the guy gets turned into a vampire so he won't die of the plague... and I'm not sure what the vampire's motivation is. But he does it, with Julie screeching at him not to do it the whole time.

He stood now in the hall of the Lord alone.

... and where did the Lord go? Did he literally wink out of the story when his role was over?

Immortality was his and the blood thirst he would need to sustain it,

Technically, the BLOOD is needed to sustain it. It's like saying a human needs hunger to survive.

So he just sits in this ruined place with no roof and holes in the walls and... does nothing. Wow, they're made for each other.

A wordless and eternal voice spoke from the starry veil of heaven, it sang in the wind that rushed through the broken timbers; it sighed in the flames that ate the sooted stones of the hearth.
It was the fathomless rhythm of the universe that played beneath every surface, as the last living creature—that tiny child—fell silent in the village below.

So... what you're saying is that he hallucinates too. Enjoy an eternity of insanity together, you two.

And I'd like to mention that I have absolutely no idea why he's showing her all this. Yes, he needs to tell her he's a vampire, but why is he telling her about all the boring years that followed that? Why is he telling her the gruesome details about the Black Death? Is this some kind of ploy to make her overlook the whole vampire thing?

So with everyone dead, the village is completely overgrown and forgotten, and the only thing left is the ruined castle where the vampire lives. What happened to the older vampire? Fuck you, answers are for authors who care about plot.

And all through the walls of his old house were the stones of the ruined castle, and all through the ceilings and floors the branches of those ancient trees.

I'm fairly sure that that doesn't give him any kind of actual claim on the place, legally or otherwise.

What was solid and majestic here, and safe within the minds of those who slept tonight in the village of Rampling, was only the most fragile citadel against horror, the house to which he clung now.

So the vampire in this is not only a weepy woobie, but he's scared of... something. So he treats the house like a teddy bear.

But because Julie is a complete idiot, she is naturally charmed and swept away by all this.

And then suddenly they're in London. Again, not sure if they're actually supposed to be there, or if the vampire is sitting there woobieing while Julie trips balls, giggling and drooling. But then they randomly turn up at a theatre, and the vampire decides to bite her again. In public. With people around.

I was in his arms, and his lips were covering mine, and there came that dull zinging sensation again,

  1. Never use the word "zinging."
  2. I know that vampires have been wussified, and the whole vampire bite thing has been reduced to an orgasmic metaphor for sex.
  3. But this is the first vampire I've read who is so defanged that his bite is LITERALLY a snog.

And because we can't have any moral ambiguity in our vampire story, he then takes her off to some room where vampire groupies offered themselves, they opened their arms. Because there can't be any aspect of a vampire's life that is BAD. We can't have him biting anyone who isn't either evil or consensually okay with it.

And together in the carriage, we talked to each other in low, exuberant rushes of language; we were lovers; we were constant; we were immortal. We were as enduring as Rampling Gate.

After knowing each other for what, an hour? Maximum? Most of which she spent hallucinating?

Including that last bit, because suddenly they're back in the tower room. Apparently it was ALL A DREAM so he could let her know how awesome it will be when she's his vampire girlfriend,

"Do not leave me," he whispered. "Don't you understand what I am offering you; I have told you everything; and all the rest is but the weariness, the fever and the fret, those old words from the poem. Kiss me, Julie, open to me. Against your will I will not take you..."

  1. Again, we can't have any moral ambiguity.
  2. Again... stop biting people with an actual literal kiss. It's LAME.
  3. Seriously, he is SUCH a loser. This is apparently the first and only girl he's interacted with for CENTURIES, and he's begging her not to leave him. Grow some balls, man.
  4. Also, he depicted it as "damnation." He doesn't seem to have any qualms about it!

Julie promptly hallucinates her dad yelling to her, presumably wanting her to not become a vampire.

I saw Richard lost in the crowd as if searching for some one, his hat shadowing his dark eyes, his face haggard, old. Old!

Not NATURAL AGING! Anything but THAT! Bella Swan taught me that being a legal adult is the worst thing EVER!

So she starts blubbing for no discernible reason, and the vampire... gets really, really creepy.

Immense and sad and wise they seemed, and oh, yes, innocent as I have said again and again.

Yes. We get it. Repeating yourself doesn't actually make him seem like less of a pathetic creeper.

"I revealed myself to them," he said. "Yes, I told my secret. In rage or bitterness, I know not which, I made them my dark co-conspirators and always I won. They could not move against me, and neither will you."

  1. "Them"? Who is "them"?
  2. I can only assume he means her family... so has her family owned this since the 14th century?! And yet they're not nobility or anything?
  3. And... why did he tell them? "Rage or bitterness" isn't much of an explanation.
  4. Especially for a wimpy milquetoast vampire like this, who can't even bite a girl unless he's snogging her.
  5. And... why couldn't they move against him?
  6. Why didn't they even try?
  7. And whatever the reason is, why in fuck did their dad leave the responsibility for destroying the place to THEM?
  8. If it was supposed to be dangerous and THAT is why he wouldn't do it... then he was a giant throbbing dick for making his kids do something that he was too cowardly to do himself.

"But they would triumph still. For they torment me now with their fairest flower."

"Oh, my darling... whatever the hell your name is!"
"... your brother Richard!"
"I shall be your one true... wait, what?"
"Would you tell him that I really, really like him?"

"Don't turn away from me, Julie. You are mine, Julie, as Rampling Gate is mine."


  1. Is there a planet somewhere out there where that DOESN'T sound creepy, stalkerish and controlling?
  2. Again, big Twilight flashbacks here.
  3. May I point out again that these two people have known each other for a grand total of what, half an hour? An hour max?
  4. And she doesn't even know his name?
  5. And he only knows hers because he's a creeper stalker who is hiding in her house?
  6. Tell me, ladies. Would you actually be willing to become the eternal companion of a guy you literally had just met half an hour ago, and had exchanged maybe a dozen lines of conscious dialogue with? Especially if he declares right off the bat that you belong to him like a piece of real estate?
  7. I'm sure the answer is "yes" from some people, and I pray they don't breed.

And then we jump right into a completely different scene. No, we don't find out how Julie responds to her sensitive, woobie I'm-not-gonna-force-you-to-be-a-vampire stalker suddenly ordering her to not look away because she belongs to him like the property they're standing in. It might make her look weak, or him look bad.

Then again, she is a very stupid woman in the Victorian era. Being told "you belong to me like that armchair there" is probably something she's used to.

Nights of argument. But finally Richard had come round.

"Richard, I was kidnapped last night by a hot sensitive woobie vampire who's been around since the Middle Ages, and we were dancing in this old castle, except that then he was bitten by a vampire, and then the dying baby was dying, so I kicked the cat, and then he became a vampire and lived here for centuries, and then we went to London and went to the opera sucked the blood of vampire groupies!"
"No, YOU'RE crazy!"

Apparently it took her several days to convince him to sign the property over to her, because RICHARD promised to tear it down and she never did. So this is her genius way of not having to tear it down. And Richard is going along with this because... because...

No, he doesn't have any reason to literally GIVE her half of an incredibly valuable piece of property so he'll have an excuse not to tear it down. Seriously, he doesn't have any reason to tear it down except a promise to their douchebag dad, and they've been searching for an excuse to break that promise all along, so it clearly means very little to them.

I had given him the legal impediment he needed, and of course I should leave the house to him and his children. It should always be in Rampling hands.

... except that for all he knows she'll get married and have her own kids, and since women had no legal identities of their own if they were married, then it would end up in her husband's hands.

Yes, I know she plans to snog a vampire for eternity, but Richard doesn't know that, does he?

And what remained was for him to take me to the little train station and see me off for London, and not worry about me going home to Mayfair on my own.

  1. Wait... why is SHE leaving? She's the one with the insane fixation on this place.
  2. And the vampire boyfiend who lives there. (Typo, and it stays)
  3. Why is Richard living here? Does he have a job or anything?
  4. And why is he sending a clearly insane woman off to live by herself in London?!

"Must go now, darling, kiss me," I said.

... cue the Lannister jokes.

"But what came over you, Julie, what convinced you so quickly. . ."
"We've been through all, Richard," I said.

NO! WE HAVEN'T! I have no idea what you have or haven't explained!

So she hops on the train and leaves Richard behind, and of course the vampire has hopped on board so he can live with Julie in London. So... is he going to hide from everyone, or are people going to know that Julie is shacking up with a guy?

I sat back and closed my eyes. Then I opened them slowly, savouring this moment for which I had waited too long.

... the moment when you'd be sitting in a train?

So yeah, Julie is a vampire now. She apparently experiences bloodthirst, but has absolutely no trouble controlling it. And is very horny.


And wait, did Richard simply... not notice that his sister was undead?!

"It's five hours to London," he whispered in my ear.

"Plenty of time for a quickie in this train cab. But I should warn you, I'm a two-minute man."

"I want to hunt the London streets tonight," I confessed, a little shyly, but I saw only approbation in his eyes.

Wait, I thought Wussy Nameless Vampire only took blood from women who are totally cool with that. There's been no indication that he hunts!

"You'll love the house in Mayfair," I said.
"Yes. . ." he said.
"And when Richard finally tires of Rampling Gate, we shall go home."


So anyway, that was Anne Rice's vampire short story, and it was shit. It had all the flaws of her vampire book series, but without any of the good points.

And even worse, it was Twilight before Twilight existed. We have a boring, mentally-unstable, lazy teen girl who can't do anything for herself, and obsesses on a guy she doesn't even know. And we have a creepy, controlling, unthreatening and vaguely effeminate vampire. They don't need to even spend a WHOLE DAY around each other before she decides to become a vampire and live with him for eternity.

Suffice to say, I didn't like it much. Thankyew, and g'nite.

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