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Posts Tagged ‘Mr. Darcy Vampyre’

These days, centering a plot around Jane Austen as a vampire is as common as pre-packed sliced cheese, and so I approached Jane and the Damned with a jaundiced point of view. I must make a confession, however. I have been addicted to vampire novels and films about these bloodsuckers since my early 20’s, starting with Bram Stoker’s Dracula; Ann Rice’s Vampire Lestat series; Gary Oldman as the ancient bloodsucker; the cheeky tv series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer; and more recently True Blood and to a lesser extent, Twilight.

If an author or film director asks me to enter their vampire world, all I want in return is a rollicking good ride. In Jane and the Damned, author Janet Mullany does just that. Jane Austen, budding young writer, is turned into a vampire on a whim by William, a mature vampire and her dance partner at a local assembly ball. She begins to feel strange immediately.

Jane shares her awful knowledge with her father, who, while horrified at the news of his daughter having been bitten by one of the Damned, keeps a calm head. He trundles his family (wife Cassandra and daughter Cassandra and Jane) off to Bath so that Jane can take “the cure.” This treatment of taking the Bath waters is not guaranteed, for it might well kill Jane (and has killed many human seeking to rid themselves of the Vampiric poison inside them), but it is the only solution. They must rush against time before Jane’s human side disappears forever, for the longer they wait, the less successful and more painful and deadly the cure.

Rev Austen and Jane decide to keep Jane’s “condition” a secret from her mother and sister, saying only that Jane’s uncertain health requires that the family must remove to Bath immediately. As bad luck would have it, just as they settle into that Georgian city, the French invade England, and their lives are turned topsy-turvy.

Jane’s new life is conflicted on two fronts. First, she does not want to turn into a vampire. Second, she longs to taste human blood. And so her vampire adventure begins.

Going against vampire etiquette, Jane’s maker, William, has abandoned her to her fate. In Ms. Mullany’s vampire empire, the bear leader (or Creator) must guide an initiate into the intrecacies of becoming a vampire. The first feeding is problematic, since a full-blooded human takes a while to turn into one of the walking dead. A new vampire has not enough knowledge to wade through the many intricacies of vampire life without making a number of blunders. Enter Luke, who decides to act as Jane’s bear leader.

Handsome, witty, and wise in the way of Henry Tilney, Luke oversees Jane’s transformation with a hands-off approach, for he is ever aware that William has first claim on Jane and could change his mind at any time.

I have described the plot in more detail than is usual for one of my reviews, for this book is so filled with plots, sub-plots, and details that the story never peters out. Jane and the Damned feels rich, not thin, and Janet Mullany skillfully keeps juggling all the story threads she has tossed into play for a lively read. While I’ve disliked previous Jane Austen monster books, this one kept my interest for the following reasons:

1.) A thoroughly plotted back story. Mullany’s vampire empire and its mythology are well thought out. In the world Janet Mullaney has constructed, the monsters’ presence in Regency England, their ethics and mores, and their desire to rid Britain of the French make perfect sense.
2.) Internal conflict. Throughout the plot our heroine constantly struggles between her human self and vampire self, and this internal war adds to the external tension of a plot that is filled with action, romance, and historical detail. Jane must make a gutwrenching decision: to embrace her vampire life and leave her earthly family or to reclaim her human soul at the risk of death (and the chance for eternal life and happiness with the man she loves.)
3.) Desire and sensuality. In her new life, Jane yearns to be human, yet her desire for human blood overpowers her common sense, and as the novel progresses, she can no longer resist the charms of her hero. Sensuality begins to invade Jane’s life, whose awakening from sheltered spinsterhood to mature woman kept sparking my interest. (BTW, Ms. Mullany does not confuse sensuality with x-rated descriptions of the sexual act, for which I am grateful.)
4.) Boredom and ennui. Eternal life is not all that it’s cracked up to be. After a few centuries as one of the undead, a vampire is hard pressed to find anything new to do or interesting to experience. Janet Mullany has not neglected this important aspect of vampiric existence.
5.) Epic battle. In this instance, the army of the Damned has decided to defeat the French, who have invaded England (a real threat in those days) and who are bivoacked in Bath. Historical details of life in a war zone in the late 18th century are spot on, and author Mullany does not flinch from showing the seedier side of war: death, starvation, and occupation.

In short, Janet Mullany (right) addresses almost every fault I have found with other recent vampire novels set in the Regency era. Her vampire empire is so well crafted that she did not need to ride Jane Austen’s magical publicity coattails to make the story more palatable or salable. And yet, the thought of Jane Austen as an action heroine who comes into her own as she fights the French and surrenders to her own sensual longings is irresistible.

Add to the mix Ms. Mullany’s extensive knowledge about the Regency era and Jane Austen’s life (I love her depiction of Mrs. Austen), and you have a thoroughly enjoyable read. Do I recommend Jane and the Damned to everyone? No. But if you are a vampire junkie like me, you will be quite happy with your purchase.

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Gentle readers, Due to my pressing duties as companion to a terror terrier and my inability to keep my house clean and blog at the same time, I asked my coffee house companion, Kate, to read Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Ben H. Winters. The very fact that this book is offered on a site entitled Geeks of Doom speaks volumes. Here then is Kate’s review, which slithers with pithy insights. BEWARE! Those who purchase this fishy book, and who think that it is even remotely connected to Jane Austen’s genteel Regency tale, are bound to be DISAPPOINTED. If you are a sea monster afficionado, however, or a jaded cynic, you will be delighted.

“Mrs. Dashwood grasped a spare oar from its rigging, snapped it in twain upon her knee, and plunged the sharp, broken point into the gleaming, deep-set eye of the beast.”

sense and sensibility and sea monsters 2 With my book in hand, my local Starbucks barista, most likely in his late teens, offered the following commentary: “Wow! Is that like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? I hear that, you know, people who love Jane Austen like really hate these books.” And then he went back to making cappuccinos.

I am a full quarter of the way through Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, and I feel that it is time to stop. I feel this strongly. During my quarter-length romp with this fascinating adaptation of the classic novel, I have laughed out loud, rolled my eyes so far into the back of my head that it hurt a little, and felt myself transported back into my seventh grade life science class, encountering a phylum of vocabulary I long since forgot.

However, once the novelty of encountering Marianne, Elinor, and Mrs. Dashwood in their new Amazonian personages wore off, so did my desire to finish the book.

This is by no means Austen, but the names are familiar, and the plot vaguely reminds me of a book I once read by Jane Austen. Occasionally, a line from the classic favorite works its way into the prose, but it is hard to continue any kind of comparison to the original when Elinor’s and Marianne’s worth as prospective wives is no longer measured in dowries or feminine accomplishments, but rather in their stamina as swimmers, in their lung capacity, and in the strength of their calves.

danger at seaInstead of arranging picnics and dinners to encourage courtship, Sir John hosts “tiki dances, crawfish fries, and bonfires,” taking the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of his guests, including “drawing a large quadrangle upon the beach in an admixture of squid ink and whale blood.”

In a cataclysm referred to as the Alteration (the source of which, the book explains, is unknown), the creatures of the deep turn against all land-roving mammals with untiring vengeance. This is the event around which all of Sea Monster society revolves.

A hammerhead shark ate Mr. Dashwood, leaving the widow Mrs. Dashwood and her daughters destitute and thrown into the company of Sir John, his exotic and ominously quiet wife, and the octopus-faced Colonel Brandon. Our beloved Dashwood women live in constant fear of marauding sea mammals (and crustaceans), and all the lovely sensibility of the original novel is gone.

I first found the novel wildly amusing and cleverly written, and then I found it sad, because I didn’t care about the characters whom I had loved in Sense and Sensibility. I’m genuinely happy that they can swim well and that they are strong women, capable of defending themselves from demonic sea creatures, but I miss their unconditional love for each other and their genuine struggles to find happiness in a world not at war with the sea. But most of all, I miss courtships that don’t necessitate a discussion of flipper size and writhing facial tentacles.

2009-07-15-sense_seamonstersWhile I’ve stopped reading the book for now, there are a few mysteries in the plot (for example, how an octopus ended up on Colonel Brandon’s face) that I dwell on, and they very well could induce me to pick it up again.

My barista’s comment about the reactions of devoted Austen fans may be true. But I cannot find a reason to be upset about this very liberal adaptation. In fact, this book made me appreciate the original even more. But that could be because I’m just not thirteen anymore.

Review submitted by Kate after ingesting gallons of Mr. Starbucke’s DARKE & Mysterious Caffeinated LIQUIDS.


tentaclesIncredulous reader: Our rating for this book is five out of eight tentacles. After all, Jane did write 60% of this book, which you can purchase at this link.

Not yet completely horrified? David Itzkoff at Arts Beat points out a few discussion questions suggested in the book, which leave the reader with no small impression that Mr. Winter’s enormous literaSEA effort might well be the result of his quest for the almighty dollar:

2. In “Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters,” painful personal setbacks often occur at the same moment as sea-monster attacks, suggesting a metaphorical linkage of “monsters” with the pains of romantic disappointment; for example, Marianne is rebuffed by Willoughby at Hydra-Z precisely as the giant mutant lobsters are staging their mutiny. Have you ever been “attacked by giant lobsters,” either figuratively or literally?

5. Which would be worse: being eaten by a shark or consumed by the acidic stomach juice of a sand-shambling man-o’-war?

8. Have you ever been romantically involved with someone who turned out to be a sea witch?

10. Is Monsieur Pierre a symbol for something? Name three other well-known works of Western literature that feature orangutan valets. Are those characters also slain by pirates?

Is author Ben Winters into Sushi?

Is author Ben Winters into Sushi?

Other monsterly reviews on this blog:

The Geek Beat: More Sense and Sensibility and Less Sea Monsters

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Jane Austen, Vampyre Critic

Jane Austen, Vampyre Critic

Inquiring Reader,

Here then is Lizzie’s last letter to her sister relating her adventures with Mr. Darcy, Vampyre. She had divided her thoughts into three missives, not wanting to burden Jane with all of her emotions at once. For another take on the book, please click here and read Laurel Ann’s well thought out review on Austenprose and a favorable review on Austenblog. Three bloggers, three points of view.

My dearest Jane,

Well, what a crock, as they say in 21st century America! I’ve had to delve a full 250 pages into Mr. Darcy Vampyre to find out what was going to happen to us. And then the plot was so rushed and jumbled that I never did received an adequate explanation of how vampyres came to be, or what exactly Mr. Darcy ate in order to survive for 150 years. Upon my honor, Jane, I am aware that men are not particularly conversant when it comes to giving out details, but I’d had no notion that Mr. Darcy suffered from a verbal disability. He could not for the life of him adequately explain his strange tale. In describing one of the most important events of his life – that of turning into a vampyre – he took all of 21 words. (STOP!: Major Spoiler Alert: “The woman turned to me, her fangs dripping red and then she was next to me and my neck was pierced”).

Ms. Anne Rice took pages and pages to describe the writhing tormenting death that humans go through to turn into vampyres, and even Ms. Stephanie Meyers hinted that the transformation was quite unpleasantly painful, but all I got from Mr. Darcy was twenty one itty bitty little words. In addition he made it sound as if turning into a vampyre was an ordinary event, with Mrs. Reynolds, the housekeeper, choosing to join the merry Pemberley vampyre band, although, to give Ms. Grange her due, my husband’s face WAS shadowed as he related these events.

Any discerning reader knows that Ms. Meyers can’t write her way out of a paper bag, but at least with Twilight she told a rousing good tale. Ms. Meyers also gave the reader ample glimpses of Edward Cullen’s mental torment and extraordinary physical skills. Ms Grange’s story of my life with Mr. Darcy is, frankly, missing the otherworldly touches and sensuality that vampyre fans have come to expect as their due. (Either that or humor, which is also absent. And you know how I am renowned for my BITING wit, hah!)  Her hints about my husband are so thinly scattered in 5/6th of the book that they left me feeling confused rather than threatened. To say that suspense was lacking in our tale is to state the obvious. In the instances when Ms. Grange eschewed Bram Stoker’s lore, her vampyre rules seemed jerry-rigged, for they sprung up from nowhere, unsupported by a well thought-out back story. I could never quite tell (except in a few meagre scenes at the end) which super powers my husband had supposedly acquired, how ancient vampyres ruled their vampyre empire, or how conflicted Mr. Darcy felt watching those he loved grow old and die whilst he lived on forever.

Never was a more sensual and sensuous vampyre created than The Vampire Lestat, and I felt that my Mr. Darcy deserved at the very least the rich, decadent and multi-layered descriptions that Anne Rice gave to her own vampire. But it was not to be. There was a lot of telling in this book, but very little showing, and scent and touch were largely missing. Ms. Grange turned Mr. Darcy into a milque toast vampyre when I frankly would have preferred someone darker.

To add insult to injury, I am also suffering from a major letdown. When Mr. Darcy and I finally came together as one, Ms. Grange glossed over our glorious moments in a single paragraph. I kid you not. My love for Darcy SAVED him from eternal damnation and hell, (and crumbling buildings, fissures, and falling statues). I think that at the very least I deserved to sing soprano as our entwined souls soared to the rafters! Instead I merely trembled and weakened. I’m done and refuse to lend my good name (and Mr. Darcy’s) to another sequel. My husband and I are headed for England and the hallowed halls of Pemberley, for I am genuinely concerned about your last letter. Your cryptic statement informing me that our friends the Misses Dashwood were abducted by a giant octopus leaves me most anxious to use my zombie slayer warrior skills to save them.

Love,

Mrs. Darcy, Once sang alto, now sings soprano

Mr Darcy, Vampyre coverVic gives this book One and 1/2 fangs out of four fangs, mostly for trying, for as a travel log the book is quite satisfying. Read the other reviews here:

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colin darcy as vampireInquiring readers,

Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange took me one month to read. For 200 pages the interminable plot seemed to twist in endless slow circles, like flotsam in the wide Sargasso Sea, before true vampyric action began. Mrs. Darcy’s (nee Bennet’s) letters, recently uncovered in a dusty attic, illuminate what actually transpired in her mind as she traveled from castle to castle during her honeymoon. Her first letter to her sister Jane can be found in the post below, or in this link. Her third letter can be read at this link. Here then, is the second of three installments. So much hoopla has surrounded this highly anticipated novel, that I felt it incumbent upon me to share all three of Lizzie’s letters.

My dearest Jane,

I must be going mad, for inexplicably I find myself living a life I would never have chosen inside a book entitled Mr. Darcy, Vampyre. First, the author, Ms Grange, has got my character wrong. Had Mr. Darcy announced before our wedding that he was planning to take me on a Grand Tour of the Continent instead of a proper honeymoon, I would have delicately persuaded him to take me to Pemberley, for it was inside that grand edifice that I expected to be fully made his bride! Instead, we have been wandering over Swiss hill and Italian dale on an aimless journey, with Mr. Darcy disappearing at the most inopportune moments. For 200 pages I have been consorting with strangers for whom I care not one whit. One even let slip that she believes she is 500 years old, at which point I heard the cuckoo clock strike thirteen times.

Jane, I am most perplexed at my husband’s continued lack of “amore”. He gives me “looks”, not of the yearning variety either, but simply “looks.” Having observed barnyard animals and their straightforward approach to reproduction, I have a good notion of where my wifely duty lies (for as we both know our parents were sadly lacking in educating us on this topic), and I know that begetting an heir requires more than merely looking. Thus I was as all prepared to shut my eyes and think of England as Mr. Darcy had his wicked way with me, but Ms. Grange has my Fitzwilliam shirking his husbandly responsibilities! In fact, I feel as if I’m trapped inside a book whose plot seems to have no point

I’ve had so much alone time on my hands that, as with Father’s study, I’ve spent hours in my husband’s Venetian library pouring over his enormous collection of books. He seems to have a strange fixation with vampyres, owning dozens of ancient, well-thumbed tomes containing vivid descriptions of immortal beings who must suck the blood of humans to survive. Does Mr. Darcy believe he is a vampyre, as the title of Ms. Grange’s book suggests? If so, is this the reason why he has been avoiding me? But of course this could not be so! For I’m as hot blooded a woman as they come, and what self-respecting vampyre could resist the rich red corpuscles pulsing through my blue veins? I have one bulging vein on my left wrist that is particularly tempting, not to mention those  that lie close to the surface of my neck. The ancient books also describe vampyres as suffering mightily from internal struggles, for they are doomed to kill those they love or turn them into vampyres, but frankly, the biggest struggle Mr. Darcy has demonstrated in this novel thus far is deciding on whether to join me for dinner  and …

Pray, is that a noise coming from the corridor? I must lay my quill aside, for perhaps it is my husband finally coming to claim my virginal self.

Mr Darcy, Vampyre coverAdieu for now! Your ever hopeful sister,

Lizzie

  • Living Girl Reads suggests that Henry Crawford, predatory male that he is, would have made a better vampyre. What think you?

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Mr Darcy, Vampyre coverInquiring reader,

Great news! I have come across some letters by Elizabeth Bennet about  Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, written by Amanda Grange
, which is coming out this month. These letters, well, critiques, really, were penned long ago and describe events that seem to have transpired in a parallel universe. I was particularly struck by how freely Elizabeth shared her thoughts with her sister Jane about her adventures with an other-worldly Mr. Darcy. I will be publishing all of Elizabeth’s critiques over the next few days. Contained herein, then, is critique, part one of Mr. Darcy, Vampyre. For those to whom this matters, spoiler alert!

My dearest Jane,

I have unaccountably awoken in the 21st century and I am writing to you out of habit, though I surmise that you must be long gone, or also living in that grey netherworld of the undead fictional character into which I have landed. I’ve just discovered that Mr. Darcy and I are the hero and heroine of a spate of books that, frankly, my dear sister, make me blush from shame. Apart from their topics (imagine us as zombie fighters and being married to vampyres), I am depicted as behaving in a manner that is so unlike myself that I fear my blood shall boil from the rise in my temper.

A recent book, which has turned my Mr. Darcy into a vampyre, has me seething in particular, for, my dear Jane, you know better than anyone that I am no namby pamby missish nebbish. In this book, the author has Mr. Darcy shunning my bed. The REAL Elizabeth Darcy née Bennet, had Mr. Darcy been guilty of such a heinous offence, would not have accepted the situation without hunting him down the corridors of their cruise ship (which is what honeymoon vessels seem to be these days) and demanding an explanation of why he was unresolved in his husbandly DUTY of BEGETTING an heir immediately. Instead, this Ms Grange has me strangely accepting the situation as if I were a zombie, which I am assuredly NOT, for has not Mr. Grahame-Smith given me the warrior skills to chop off their heads?

What particularly burns me, to use 21st century parlance, is that I take pride in my conversational ability. Sparks fly when Mr. Darcy and I converse. Even when such a mundane subject as tea comes up, double entendres abound. One may be assured that Mr. Darcy and I can easily devote hours of our lives sparring verbally and taking pleasure from these seemingly uneventful encounters. But Ms Grange has us speaking in dead and flat voices, as if we were not Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth from the brilliant mind of Jane Austen, but another couple conjured up by some other author who happened to have given us similar names.

My dear Jane, I can assure you that there is only ONE Mr. Darcy and his Elizabeth. And so, I do protest strongly. Let Miss Grange choose another couple to write about. Miss Jane Austen was the first to use us and she should be the last! Oh, I am exhausted. My blood has almost reached boiling point, and I must find a cooling bath for, unfortunately, more than one reason.

Signed,

Your wedded but unbedded sister, Lizzie.

P.S. Are you experiencing a rabid bat infestation? One almost flew through my window, but I slammed it shut before it could enter. I shudder to think what might have happened had it landed on my neck. (Now why on earth did I think that?) I shall write more about this situation tomorrow, for there is so much I must share with you about my new life that my thoughts cannot be contained within a mere few sheets of vellum.

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completeworksJane Austen wrote six novels. You can almost count them on one hand. Those books, and a smattering of Juvenilia, a few uncompleted manuscripts, and a number of letters – some fragmented, most missing blocks of years – are all that we have of Jane Austen’s legacy in writing. Yet these little bits of ivory contain such a vastness of riches that one can spend a lifetime exploring them.

Not only did Jane inspire some of the best minds of her generation, but 192 years after her death her legacy still lives on, spawning imitators and sequel makers and inspiring an entire genre in literature. Her topics were circumscribed and narrow, which is the key to her timelessness. By focusing on the essential and not that which was fashionable, her writings remain fresh, relevant, and current. Jane Austen’s works are popular the world over and, observing from the number of websites, blogs, and discussion forums devoted to her on the World Wide Web, interest in her is still increasing and cuts across cultures and generations.

iheartdarcylgpride_and_prejudice_cb2(1)You haven’t truly arrived until you’ve been imitated. Like Shakepeare, Jane’s works invite hordes of copyists, with new books, movies, games, and comics based on her work and life cropping up monthly. Satirists are having as much fun with our Jane as with Shakespeare. Action figures and finger puppets abound, and famous lines are quoted with a modern twist every day. With Shakespeare it might be, “To eat, or not to eat, that is the question,” while Jane’s famous opening line morphs into, “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a writer in need of a plot must steal from Jane Austen.” We quoth our Jane evermore, but, lacking her biting wit and brilliant insights, we fall short every time.

sense and sensibility and sea monstersAnd now it seems that the Jane Austen industry has descended into monster sequel and adaptation madness, regurgitating these popular culture books at an unholy rate. The new crop of Jane Austen adaptations include Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Mr. Darcy, Vampyre Slayer, Pride and Predator, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. What’s next? Emma and the Loch Ness Monster? King Kong Conquers Northanger Abbey? Mr. Bingley, Werewolf?

At least Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was sensible enough to retain 80% of Jane’s words. Currently, I am barely slogging through Mr.Darcy, Vampyre. The book purports to be about Jane Austen-named characters, but their actions, speech, and motivation have nothing to do with Pride and Prejudice. Neither can Amanda Grange’s writing hold a candle to either Jane’s spare, witty style or Anne Rice’s evocative and decadent language in her masterful first novel, Interview With the Vampire. One suspects that Source Books has rushed this vanity novel out to take advantage of the Monster and Jane Craze. And now Quirk Books has announced the publication of Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. Have you seen the trailer? Uggh. The book has retained only 60% of Jane’s words, which means it will be even more action oriented than P&P and Zombies. While thirteen year old boys are whooping for joy in anticipation of this book, we lovers of literature are scratching our heads, knowing that its publisher and author will be happily scooping up dollars at the bank. Meanwhile a more talented and original writer, unable to get a foot through that publisher’s door, will have to work at Burger King to pay the rent.
Mr Darcy, Vampyre cover
And then there are the Jane Austen and sex sequels. Last year, a sequel had Darcy and his Elizabeth making love at least 19 times in the first half of the book. I am currently awaiting two sexy sequels with a bit of trepidation, but I will be frank with you, if these two books are merely about titillation, I won’t be giving them a kind review. There’s a popular cultural reason why the American ending of Pride and Prejudice 2005 contains this scene, which our British cousins didn’t have to see. “Nuff said.

Not for me these wannabe imitators, these pale, faceless shadows of a literary genius whose sun shines so brightly that I reread her words regularly without tiring of her. Enough, I say, of this monstrous Jane Austen sequel trend.  Fun is fun, but desecration is another thing. I know many people feel that this is an innovative way to introduce young people to Jane Austen’s splendid novels. I say, let’s stop the monster madness now and introduce Jane to new readers in a more proper way.

More on this topic

  • Making light: Incorporate Electrolyte : This blogger wrote tongue in cheek about a possible sequel entitled Mary Bennet, Vampyre Slayer way back in 2007. Her plot outline is funnier than any of the current crop of books

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