I kind of want to take my original "tension, not whiplash" post and beat JMR over the head with it. I know it's only a few kilobytes of HTML code and therefore not very heavy, but it's the principle of the thing.
See, because we know Charles loves Flora, and we know he wanted to duel the vampire, and we know that now he's off to meet the vampire. And yet in Chapter 26 (THE MEETING AT MOONLIGHT IN THE PARK. -- THE TURRET WINDOW IN THE HALL. -- THE LETTERS.), he sneaks out of the house at night, leaving letters to Henry and the Admiral about how Flora is becoming a vampire and he can't possibly marry her.
Yes, I skipped ahead to the next chapter, and (SPOILER ALERT!) it was just as I suspected: Flora sees the letters and proclaims them forgeries, and everyone is happy again. But that doesn't change the fact that it's not dramatic tension. It's a random out-of-character scene that provides a brief moment of unrealistic tension and then is immediately rectified in the next scene.
I guess it kind of works if you're reading the story chapter by chapter, which was the entire point of this blog in the first place -- but then again, in a way it's much worse, because you have to wait a week or however long for the next chapter only to discover that what appears to be the next big plotline is suddenly and conveniently resolved with no problems whatsoever.
Man, there are a couple of unintentionally funny quotes in this chapter, but they are not good enough to distract me from the fact that Varney is seriously pissing me off.