For those who have the seemingly unrelated interest in the Georgian world of Jane Austen and the macabre one of immortal vampires, Janet Mullany’s new novel Jane Austen: Blood Persuasion is a perfect combination of the two. In fact, as was recounted in Mullany’s previous novel Jane and the Damned, beloved and proper Jane Austen is a vampire. Or, at least, she has been bitten and is trying her hardest to fight against the metamorphosis as would any proper eighteenth-century female. In this new Austen-vampire mashup, Jane continues to struggle against what seems an inevitable metamorphosis into one of the Damned while reconciling her feelings for a seemingly indifferent Creator, a former consort, a new love interest, a vulnerable niece, a dear friend who has an odd penchant for being leeched by vampires, and an oblivious family. You are, indeed, correct in assuming that poor Jane has a lot on her plate.
It is 1810 and the Austen family has new, undead neighbors. Having just been banished from polite society, the Damned are seeking less conspicuous roles in provincial society where they hope to blend in unnoticed or, at least, without too much notice. Jane is in the middle of working on what will be her literary masterpiece when she is interrupted by the return of a number of old, undead friends – a formerly indifferent Creator who is seeking to make amends and a seemingly ambivalent former consort – both of whom have found themselves entrenched in a looming civil war between factions of the Damned right in the heart of Jane’s small provincial town. More upsetting for Jane is the return of her vampire characteristics and feelings for her former consort, Luke. Even more upsetting, and completely unexpected, is a sudden passionate interest in a steward named Raphael, who is similarly in-between vampire metamorphosis, and which only complicates Jane’s feelings towards Luke.
Her internal love struggle aside, Jane gets caught up in trying to prevent civil war amongst the Damned especially since the safety of her town and family is in peril despite the high risk of metamorphosis that being near the Damned poses. She is torn between wanting to save her town and family (especially a vulnerable niece who has caught the eye of a ruthless vampire) or her soul. Her propriety or her passion. Luke or Raphael. And, perhaps most importantly, her writing or transforming into a vampire to save her family from danger since, as was demonstrated in Jane and the Damned, her vampire-self could not write. Not to mention Jane’s dear friend who continues to have intimate contact with vampires despite Jane’s numerous warnings and who annoyingly persists in borrowing Jane’s precious silk stockings for these liaisons!
Mullany’s novel will interest those who find paranormal romances entertaining. It is creative and is perfectly timed with the resurgence of fiction about vampires and other paranormal creatures. I, admittedly, did find myself hoping for more depth and nuance when it came to characters and plot. Jane’s internal and external struggles resolved themselves a little too easily and I found myself not really feeling invested in any of the characters. I did, however, find Mullany’s suggestion – made both in the novel and on this blog – that Mary and Henry Crawford from Austen’s Mansfield Park would make perfect members of the Damned extremely interesting as I think that might lead to some very intriguing fictional possibilities. Nevertheless, Jane Austen: Blood Persuasion is definitely recommended for those who find paranormal romances crossed with Jane Austen fan fiction their cup of tea as Mullany’s enthusiasm for her work is evident throughout the novel, and you will at the very least, be highly entertained by a Jane Austen combating evil vampires in men’s clothing while, elsewhere in the novel, insisting on wearing a spinster’s cap.
3.5 out of 5 Regency Stars
Jane Austen: Blood Persuasion, by Janet Mullany
William Morrow (2011)
Trade paperback (304) pages
Aia A. Hussein, a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and American University, pursued Literature degrees in order to have an official excuse to spend all her time reading. She lives in the DC area and is a devotee of Jane Austen and all things Victorian.
© 2007 – 2011 Aia A. Hussein, Austenprose