I know I am late in reviewing this Jane Austen undead novel, which came out in August. My initial reaction to Emma and the Vampires was “Meh!” and “Oh, no, not another one of those deadfuls.” But as I read Wayne Josephson’s book further, its sweet and gentle quality and its quiet humor began to grow on me. Then I became confused.
If this book was meant to be a vampire mashup, then it failed miserably, for aren’t vampires ravenous for human blood? Aren’t they irresistibly drawn to the smell of humans to the point where they are sexually attracted to their victims and MUST have them at all cost? Aren’t vampires generally fearful of daylight and aren’t decent, law-abiding humans frightened to associate with them?
Emma, while highly skilled at driving stakes through the hearts of the rag tag vampires that attack humans, is unaware that a number of her social group have already gone over to the other side, including Miss Taylor upon her marriage to the vampire, Mr. Weston, Mr. Knightley and his brother George, Mr. Elton, who is attracted to her long neck, and Mr. Martin. These vampires live normally among humans, abstaining from feasting on their human acquaintances and friends, and concentrating on hunting wild animals. They are able to emerge on overcast or rainy days to go about human-like business, but they do not sleep or eat.
Then there are the horrible vampires, who bare their fangs, wear rags, and thrash and drool. These are the vampires that must be dealt with by both the citizens of Highbury and the aristocratic vampires, who are not of their class. In one scene, as the party leaves Randall’s because of the snow, the bad vampires attack the Knightley family and Mr. Woodhouse as they exit the door. As Mrs. Westos screams and Mr. Woodhouse faints, Mr. George Knightley dashes back into the house to return “with two sabres, one of which he tossed to Mr. Weston, who expertly caught it…Emma deftly retrieved her wooden stake from beneath her bombazines, having practiced the the exercise repeatedly at home.” John Knightley joins in the fray, and the fighters, half of them human, half of them aristocratic vampires, then quickly dispatch the drooling, murderous undead. These vampire wars and the dangers in the countryside feed Mr. Woodhouse’s paranoia and general sense of fear, a nice twist on his hypochondria. He is also clueless:
Yes, but the children never sleep—nor does John. They are up all the night long, running everywhere while John paces. And they keep disappearing into the forest, for what reason I haven’t the slightest notion. It worries me exceedingly, with so many wild vampires about.”
As with all vampire books, there are gaping gaps in logic. Why the humans of Highbury don’t seem to connect the dots – that the good vampires among them are never seen eating, that the majority of their activities are done at night, that their eyes are bright red – is beyond me, and one must suspend all logic when entering into the spirit of this novel. As my mom would say, the reader will simply have to go with the flow.
This Emma is Jane Austen light. The book’s tone and style are quite accessible to the modern reader. I had read somewhere that Mr. Josephson had written this novel for his young teenage daughter. If that is the case, then its sweet tone, its epic tale of benevolent vampires fighting evil ones, and its accessible introduction of the Emma character are appropriate.
I enjoyed this novel for what it was. This book certainly has a different take on vampires. If it is true that it is geared toward a younger audience, then it has found its niche. While it would not appeal to die-hard fans of True Blood and Ann Rice novels, it does have a charm of its own.
I give Emma and the Vampires two out of three regency fans.
My Other Mashup Reviews: