Ceridwen Kenrick, Wicked Vamp in Every Sense…


Here is a picture of Sheridan le Fanu’s Carmilla,the inspiration
for so many female vampires in literature.

If I enjoyed writing about that drooling, nasty, dirty minded gorger on trifle and blood, Goronwy Kenrick, then I equally enjoyed writing about his partner in wickedness and straying wife, Ceridwen who in her savagery is as much the tender hearted Sophie’s opposite as Lord Ynyr is Kenrick’s.

Sophie represents human values in the story;  Ceridwen represents inhuman ones.

I think I said earlier, regarding Kenrick, that I was intrigued by writing about a character with a Heathcliff-like obsession for one lost love – in this case, a first wife – but making the character physically unattractive, to see if any of the readers (who, because of the genre, will be chiefly women) were willing to fall over backwards to excuse his faults, as they do so often with Heathcliff ( by the way, if you’re as if your as fascinated by this topic as I am, here’s the link to a discussion I started on Goodreads about it http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1019195-excuse-me-could-anyone-explain-how-heathcliff-whose-acts-are-those-of?page=5&type=topic#comment_60304732 Watch that link fail to come out).

So far nobody feels inclined to make excuses for Kenrick.

Ceridwen is as cruel as Kenrick – possibly worse – but she has  a wonderful appearance. She’s voluptuous, with a mane of glossy dark hair, and slanting dark eyes and pouting lips. Her skin, unlike Kenrick’s pasty complexion (too much trifle?) is ‘like a ripe fruit’.

Sophie thinks,  ‘Why can’t I look like that?’ Emile has to stare. Georges has made it his business somehow to catch sight of her and gloats over her curves, but Lord Ynyr is here perhaps more perceptive than any of them ‘She’s beautiful; but I like her not’.

When they meet at the Lewis family’s Twelfth Night ball, the rascally Émile, bitterly disappointed at this point in both his honourable and dishonourable approaches to his aunt the Dowager Countess’ sweet companion Sophie, arranges to pay a social call on Mistress Kenrick by way of diversion.

Sophie warns him;  Katarina, the little kitchen maid he has rescued from Plas Cyfeillgar warns him  too.

Naturally, he doesn’t listen.

He wouldn’t go to Ceridwen if Sophie didn’t appear to be snubbing him; she has her reasons for that, but he can’t know them, though all is to be made clear too late.

So, he makes an early call upon Kenrick’s beautiful wife (he’s notorious for the kindly interest he takes in other men’s wives in London) and is in for not one horrible surprise when Ceridwen conducts him to her bedroom, but two. The first is easy to guess. He escapes, now in danger of becoming a Man Vampire himself.

The second shock is equally terrifying, and involves Kenrick’s experiments with time.

Ceridwen was once a starry eyed young bride, too. Embittered by her first husband’s treatment and the death of their baby,  and repelled by her second husband (Kenrick wouldn’t, of course, have had anything to do with the first husband’s death) and now undeterred by any human scruples, she takes her grudges against ‘arrogant young men’ out on Emile: ‘I will enjoy bringing you down’.
It is lucky that Emile is very resilient…

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