Among all the hype and circumstance, the highly anticipated Mr. Darcy, Vampyre will hit bookstores this week. Officially it has the honor of being the first vampire-themed Jane Austen sequel in print by a major publisher. I can assure you it will not be the last.
This clever concept is not new by any means. Fanfiction writers have been having fun with Austen and vampires for years. However, this book would not have been published without riding on the coattails of two Austen inspired best sellers: Twilight and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Publishers are banking on the combination of two hot genres to be combustible. It will take a talented writer knowledgeable in both Austen and vampire lore to pull it off. Having already written five Austen inspired sequels, Amanda Grange is an excellent choice to open the Austen-vampire Ball. Let’s hope she knows more than a little about vampires as well. She is treading over unconsecrated ground and could offend either camp or both! The only thing worse than an angry Twilight fan is a Janeite who has gotten her bonnet blown off by a foul wind of desecration.
Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy of Pride and Prejudice may be one of the most famous love stories in literature. Their uneasy courtship was wrought with misconceptions skillfully played out by Austen’s acerbic wit and romantic tension. When they finally realize they are in love and destined to be
together, their wedding seems to insure a happily-ever-after that Austen is famous for. What Elizabeth had envisioned as their carefree wedding tour in the Lake District is altered by her new husband’s dour mood and abrupt change of destination. They will now travel to the Continent and visit Darcy relations in Paris, Switzerland, and Italy, making the Grand Tour.
As they travel in the style and comfort afforded the master and mistress of Pemberley, Elizabeth sees a dark change come over her husband. He is preoccupied and incommunicative; not at all the man that she grew to love during their courtship in England. In fact, the farther they travel, the more distant he becomes. She pours out her troubles and concerns by writing letters to her dear sister Jane. Foremost in any young bride’s mind is the consummation of their marriage which Darcy is avoiding. Moreover, Darcy’s formidable relations are more than just a bit odd and events along the way are unsettling. While in Paris Darcy’s cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam privately admonishes him for marrying her. On the road to Switzerland, his aunt Lady Catherine de Bourgh surprisingly appears expressing her displeasure at his disgraceful alliance, begging him to end it. As their carriage climbs the mountain road, the local people jump away and cross themselves as they pass. When they arrive in the Alps at his uncle Count Polidori’s castle, an ax displayed above a doorway mysteriously falls missing Darcy by inches. The servants say it is a sign that Elizabeth will cause his death. Later, a fortune teller warns her to beware. “There are dangers all around you …not all who walk on two legs are men…not all who fly are beasts.” When the castle is stormed by angry villagers, Darcy and Elizabeth flee into the mountains where they are attacked by the mob. In the confusion of the fight, they are separated. Against all odds, the crowd is subdued. Darcy is disheveled and unharmed except for the blood on his mouth. Elizabeth is horrified, thinking he is hurt. We suspect otherwise.
Their journey continues to Venice, and on to Rome. More seeing the sights, more friends and more subtle comments and minor events as the plot moseys along. The descriptions of the countryside and cities are similar to a vintage travelogue. Not only are the Darcy’s taking the Grand Tour, so are we. The scenes of the castle in the Alps, the fortune teller and the angry mob pay gentle homage to the Gothic novels so popular in Jane Austen’s time and parodied in her own novel Northanger Abbey. The difference here is this novel is not a burlesque or a spoof. It is deadly serious, and that is one of its foibles. Lack of humor. No Catherine Morland in her nightgown peering into a ponderous chest. Only poor Lizzy unhappily dragged about Europe, neglected by her husband, and totally unaware that his indifference is a front to his dark secret. When did our spirited and clever Lizzy become willing to put up with such treatment? She used to taunt and tease him into submission. Now she can’t seem to find him to put him in his place. Yes, he is a vampyre and he is tormented over not being able to tell his wife about his terrible curse, but there still needs to be some conversation to develop their relationship. Over three-quarters of the way into the book and I was still impatiently waiting for the big reveal. Is this really a vampyre novel? Where’s Darcy’s coffin with a bit of Pemberley terra firma thrown in?
I will attempt to forestall any reproof and readily admit that I admire Amanda Grange’s courage and creativity. The novel was a bold move that unfortunately did not fulfill my expectations. The final denouement did tie together all the loose bits, adding the requisite Austen happy ending. I will not reveal any spoilers but will allude to it being reminiscent of the opening of The Ark of the Covenant scene in the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark. Here the Vampyre and his lady are on a quest to break the curse through an ancient ceremony when we were treated to an unearthly spectacle of the classical four elements: earth, wind, fire, and water, but lacking any flying angels morphing into deadly avenging demons. I was, however, at that moment, reminded of Indiana Jones’ plea to his companion, “Marion, don’t look at it. Shut your eyes Marion.” in an attempt to save her life from the wrath of God. In a knee jerk reaction, I found myself yelling the same warning to Jane Austen in heaven.
3 out of 5 Stars
Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, by Amanda Grange
Sourcebooks, Landmark, Naperville, Ill (2009)
Trade paperback (308) pages
- Jane Austen’s World – Part One
- Jane Austen’s World – Part Two
- Jane Austen’s World – Part Three
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Cover image courtesy of Sourcebooks © 2009; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2009, Austenprose.com
I would much rather Mr. Darcy reveals he’s a vampire before marrying Elizabeth. But that would be a totally different story.
Bargain with the Devil
Love the review, I thought the same thing throughout the book, and sadly the same thing at the end.
I kept waiting and waitng for some breathtakingly romantic scene of Darcy’s passion for Elizabeth, with no such luck.
I will admit it was a page turner until the end, when it seemed that the author was in a hurry to finish. One moment they were in a death defying situation and the next they were calm and leaving to go home. I could have very much stood for the story to tease me longer and end with a spicier ending.
Oh well, I thought she did a great job. Filling the blanks for the happily ever after of one of the most romantic and beloved couples are some very big shoes to fill!
Hi Kali, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I have enjoyed all of Amanda Grange’s Austen hero books very much. I also got the feeling that Mr. Darcy, Vampyre was rushed to press to catch the vampire wave. It was a great idea in concept though.
Cheers, Laurel Ann
Well done, LA. Your review is more exciting than the book. You added mystery and tension (where I saw none). This is a truthful description of a tale that I could only review tongue in cheek.
“The only thing worse than an angry Twilight fan, is a Janeite who has gotten her bonnet blown off by a foul wind of desecration.”
Love it :) Thanks for the review!
Excellent review. I’m still excited to read it!
Like you, I was definitely disappointed with this one. And since I finished it a few weeks ago, I’m embarrassed to say I don’t even remember the ending! I was just waiting for the big reveal, too, and getting very frustrated when it was forestalled again and again.
As Enid pointed out above, it would have been a totally different novel had Darcy told Elizabeth the truth before they were married. But as it stood… it was just a whole lot of angst and… blah-ness.
Both you and Vic have made me laugh out loud at your reviews of this book! I have a sneaking suspicion that you’ve got it right. We’ll see if I end up reading this one. Thanks for the great review!
I was really curious as to what your review would be! I thought that this could either be really terrible…or kinda awesome. Looks like its leaning away from the awesome ;)
I think what legions of teenage girls (and grown women!) love about Twilight is the chivalry and intense attraction between the main characters. Sounds like there are neither of these elements in this book…just sounds like a really, really, REALLY bad vacation ;)
So glad I didnt get attacked by villagers on my honeymoon ;)
“just sounds like a really, really, REALLY bad vacation ;) So glad I didnt get attacked by villagers on my honeymoon ;)”
Thanks for the laugh Heather. That was more than I got from the book, which is not funny, frightening or passionate. I wish it was.
Hi LA (if you permit me to call you that way),
I have so much to read on your blog! I am a fan of Jane Austen just like you but I guess I have so much to prove yet.
I have a question though regarding your statement “two Austen inspired best sellers: Twilight and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.” How is Twilight connected to Jane Austen’s novels? I don’t quite see the connection.
Hello Cutlex, it is of genreal opinion that Twilight is loosely based on Pride and Prejudice with Bella and Edward as Elizabeth and Darcy. He is the brooding vampire and she the repulsed heroine. I can only relay this second hand, as I have not read the book. I am sure there are other far more enlightened than myself who can give you more details. Try Googleing “Pride and Prejudice” + Twilight, or “Jane Austen” + “Stephanie Meyer” and you might find more information.
I read the book and was disappointed. As others have pointed out it took too long to reveal that Darcy was a vampire and the story became predictable. When Elizabeth arrived in a place it was lovely (eg Venice), but by the time she left she saw it so differently. After Venice I came to expect it, and it happened. Also, I could not believe that Darcy would give up immortality to grow old and infirm. That was totally unreal. It would have been more realistic if Elizabeth had been turned and then the lovers could be together through the centuries. A waste of a read.
As a Twilight Mum and Jane Austen fan, I think you are totally right in your comments on the book. I bought it, as many fans have probably done, with a curiosity to see a mixture of Twilight and Pride and Prejudice, two of my favourite romantic novels, different as they are. It is nice to read a sequel of Pride and Prejudice written by an author that is an expert on Jane Austen´s novels, but I was disappointed anyway. I kept waiting and waiting, the end comes in a hurry and I thought we would at least get a ” hot” scene at the end, but no description, nothing!
In any case, it is much, much better than Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which is only a copy of the original novel with some zombies added here and there. Anyone could have written it! I don´t understand why it was such a success.
My question is: is there already a Spanish translation of Mr. Darcy, Vampire? I cannot find it. I can read it in English, but I have many spanish friends who would be delighted to read it in spanish.
Hi Montse, thanks for your comment. I adore Amanda Grange’s other works. In retrospect, I expected so much from her based on her previous Austen Heroes Diaries and so when this did not quite meet my expectations, I was disappointed. It is by no means a bad book, but when the bar is so high, it is hard to maintain it. I do not know if it has been published in Spanish yet. You might visit Amanda’s website and contact her, or check on Amazon.com (or the Spanish equivalent). Thanks for visiting. Best of luck. Laurel Ann
What Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has going for it is that it is funny. Darcy, Vampyre is an attempted ripoff on the present fad on vampires that resulted in a complete failure. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is much better. And that’s from someone who normally thinks zombie stories are boring.
I don’t fancy this book. The author should have kept readers in suspense. All the odd stuff Darcy did are puzzling, but only to Elizabth, and not the readers. For we already know the truth. Had the readers be kept in the dark, and found out the truth together with Elizabeth, it’d be better.
I like your review but i noted that you write that you will not give out any spoilers. That’s where you are wrong. The author has already given it out – just see the book cover.