Remember when Anne Rice wrote vampire stories? Yeah, she wrote twelve books focusing on fey, beautiful, angsty immortals with gothic sensibilities.
But between her first two vampire novels, she also published a short story called "The Master of Rampling Gate" about (surprise!) a fey, beautiful, angsty immortal. It's graced with lush prose, but the dialogue is painfully stilted, the characters are undeveloped, and the romance has as much emotional depth as Twilight. Yes, I went there.
After their dad dies, Julie and Richard inherit the ancestral castle of Rampling Gate. Their father made Richard promise to tear it down before he died, which is apparently connected to a beautiful young man that Julie saw years ago. When that man reappears, he and Julie fall madly in love, and he shows her the reason why he doesn't want Rampling Gate torn down.
"The Master of Rampling Gate" really shows why Anne Rice should avoid writing short stories. If it had been expanded to a full-length novel, this story might have actually been a very compelling gothic romance -- especially since this was Rice approaching the height of her skill. Instead, it feels like a teenage girl's fanfiction written in her style.
Admittedly there are a lot of really beautiful descriptions in this story, and Rice does conjure up a feeling of haunted, history-soaked atmosphere. However, her old-timey dialogue is painfully clunky ("And yet you suffer so, and it is as if you can love!"), she misuses the word "innocent" about a dozen times, and she careens through the thin plot like a drunk driver.
To make matters worse, the love story is HORRIBLE. Julie falls for the vampire because he's pretty, and he falls for her because... apparently her mind is so wonderful and special. They literally fall in love at first sight, without exchanging a single word, and immediately decide to be together forever. Stephenie Meyer would be proud of a romance like that.
"The Master of Rampling Gate" is a painfully immature work that might have been okay if it had been a full-length novel. But with only a short space to work in, the love story and characters are as thin as paper.