Monday, November 2, 2009
Review: Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, by Amanda Grange
I swear, this is the last Jane Austen mash-up I'm going to read.
I also swear that I will not break out into Dear Jane letters, as Elizabeth is inclined to do at critical junctures of the book. The Postal Service could not be terribly reliable in Europe in her day, but the letters provide an easy way for Elizabeth to share her deepest secrets with us, as well as with Jane, and so she keeps writing.
I found Mr. Darcy, Vampyre to be a breezier read than Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. It's not written to be funny, although it is occasionally ridiculous; it seems a more serious attempt to extend the romance of Elizabeth Bennett and her beloved Mr Darcy. From the glorious morning of their wedding day to the novel's final sunrise, they stay true to the world Austen created.
The story begins on the morning of Elizabeth and Darcy's wedding. They are having a double ceremony, sharing the happy occasion with Jane and her Mr. Bingley. But the trouble starts almost immediately after the wedding breakfast -- Darcy has received some disturbing news along with their wedding congratulations, and he cancels their trip to the Lake District and he and Elizabeth head for Paris.
As they travel across the Continent, there is a whirlwind of parties and balls given in their honor, visits with Darcy's wide circle of friends and relatives, along with an undercurrent of menace. It is clear that things are not what they seem. Some of Darcy's relatives seem openly shocked to meet Elizabeth, and when Cousin Sophia lets slip - "This is the dress I wore to meet Marco Polo" - it's clear that someone has been keeping some secrets.
Of course, you and I know that Darcy is a vampire. Many of his friends and relatives are obviously vampires. Author Amanda Grange has tailored a vampire mythology (everything from their ability to go out in the sun to the way they age and die) to fit her story and purposes. In a puzzling turn, Darcy has not once visited Elizabeth's bedchamber. Weeks into their wedding tour, our bride is still a virgin. Obviously Darcy is restraining himself, but why? What fun are vampires that don't have sex?
I was disappointed that we didn't get to see more of the Darcy's vampire nature in action. There are a few incidents, but until about three-quarters of the way through the book, you could make the case that he simply had cold feet and was keeping his distance from his bride. It is fun to read certain comments and reactions, knowing what we know, and watching Elizabeth try to sort out the mystery on her own, but I would have liked it better if she clued in a little earlier.
I read Mr. Darcy, Vampyre on the flight from Cleveland to Minneapolis. It was a quick, fun read -- it kept the feeling of other Austen novels, with some downright silly situations. Devoted Austen fans don't seem to enjoy it as much, but I was amused by it. Heck, I finished it, which is more than I can say for Sense and Sensibility.
My copy of Mr. Darcy, Vampyre was provided free of charge for review. You can read more about the book at the novel's blog, and more about the author, Amanda Grange, at her website.