Vittorio the Vampire

Well, what can I really say. It’s an Anne Rice book. That should probably tell you all you need to know. As this was the only one of her vampire books (with the exception of the upcoming Prince Lestat) I can confirm that your expectations will probably prove to be correct.

It’s heavily religious. The main character claims that he’ll speak naturally instead of like some… I don’t know, let’s call it a fancy-ass guilded flower. And of course, he lies. It’s not that big a deal that he tends to be long-winded though, as this isn’t a particularly long book by anyone’s standards. But I’m a little confused about the part where the plot just breaks off and starts again as though nothing happened in between scene A and scene B… it makes no sense, unless maybe someone can explain it to me. And the scene where he (finally!) gets made a vampire is unusually anti-climactic. It disappointed me, and it’s odd for a book like this. And the romance part…. Anne Rice is no stranger to romance, but usually it’s dark and gothic. This is somehow oddly sappy and just plain strange. It seems somehow quite out of character for Vittorio. Ursula’s spell over this guy must be pretty powerful, because he just doesn’t seem the type, at least in the face of all that he experiences here. But Vittorio is a good guy, I don’t want to say I dislike him as a character. He’s not particularly annoying, as can sometimes happen. And his personality fits well with the period in which this all takes place. No, there’s not a whole lot to complain about here, besides maybe that it doesn’t really break any new boundaries despite being the only vampire book truly cut-off from all the characters and events we’re otherwise familiar with.

If you’re into this sort of thing, definitely give it a go. If you’re not, then don’t. That’s about all I have to say about it.

Advertisements

Mad in America

 

For as long as we can all remember, insane asylums (to be totally un-PC) have been a staple of horror movies. They come up as haunted locations almost as much as houses do. And there’s a very good reason for that. Because the history of mental health care in America is not only very dark, it’s shockingly so in ways you might not expect.

It’s normal to hear of old remedies for illness that just don’t make any sense. Remedies that are far worse than the illness they’re supposed to treat. But what about when torture isn’t just a result of unfortunately misguided medical practice, but the actual aim itself? Believe it or not, torture of various kinds were once thought to ameliorate mental health issues for the very fact that they were so traumatic. Shock treatment and lobotomies are of course described in detail, but near-drownings, the inducement of extreme fear, unnecessary teeth pulling, and other incredible things feature here as well. Combine this thought process with a period in history when eugenics was thought to be a legitimate thing and you have a recipe for true horror. This book isn’t a horror story in the traditional sense. It doesn’t explore the ghosts that haunt particular institutions. But it does lay out the history of mental health and describe ghosts of a more metaphorical sort, ghosts that might still haunt us today.

My only real complaint is that there’s a lack of information here about what was considered mental illness at different points in history. There’s no way that these things could have been the same that they are now. It also tends to focus disproportionately on specific illnesses, like schizophrenia, without really describing much about what these illnesses are. It’s frustrating, but doesn’t seem to make the book any less interesting.

We can only progress and move forward from learning from the mistakes of the past, and this book is full of the most unbelievable mistakes you may have ever read about. If it weren’t so damn sad it would be hilarious. As it is, it serves as a very important reminder of the past that we shouldn’t dare ever forget.