Mr. Darcy’s Bite, by Mary Lydon Simonsen – A Review

Mr. Darcy's Bite, by Mary Lydon Simonsen (2011)Guest review by Kimberly Denny-Ryder of Reflections of a Book Addict

What do you get when you cross Pride and Prejudice with werewolves?  You get a dark and adventurous tale that follows Lizzy and Darcy as they grapple with a definite twist that has arisen in their relationship.  This time, Mary Lydon Simonsen takes us on a journey where we follow our beloved couple as they encounter something that Jane could never have imagined when she originally put pen to paper.

Elizabeth Bennet is distraught.  Fitzwilliam Darcy has been courting her for months and there is still no marriage proposal.  Her mother, father, and even sister Jane keep pressuring her about what’s taking so long.  Ready to give up on ever receiving a proposal, Darcy shows up begging Elizabeth to travel to Pemberley with him so that he can reveal a secret to her.  If she doesn’t run away from him upon hearing this secret, then he’ll have a question for her.  Nervous about what his secret is, Elizabeth agrees to the trip and makes the trek to Pemberley with him.  Her first night at Pemberley, Darcy reveals that years earlier he was bitten by a werewolf and that for two days every month he turns into one himself.  Elizabeth is shocked and cannot fathom all that she’s being told, yet promises to wait for him to return from his transformation before making a decision about their relationship.  What will Elizabeth do when she sees Darcy in his wolf form?  Will she stand by his side and marry him, or will she cut ties and end their relationship?

Having read Mr. Darcy Vampyre, by Amanda Grange and come away with a less than stellar opinion, I was super nervous at reading another Pride and Prejudice fan fiction novel that infused some type of supernatural beings within the plot.  Fortunately, Simonsen has made this idea work with Mr. Darcy’s Bite, which seriously impressed me.  Unlike another popular vampire work, Twilight, where werewolves appear because of vampires, Simonsen provides an actual realistic explanation for it.  The novel is written with fabulous Gothic undertones, creating a dark and spooky reading atmosphere that grips you from cover to cover.   The ending was my favorite part!  So much so, that I immediately emailed Mary and asked her to write a sequel!

I really enjoyed the changes that Simonsen made to Darcy’s character.  Shortly after his transformation we get to see a more playful Darcy that speaks his mind and teases Elizabeth about the things he can “sense” as a werewolf.  In turn we see a different Elizabeth that isn’t so proud, and is willing to listen to the advice of those around her. Specifically, the advice of Darcy’s cousin Anne de Bourgh and his little sister Georgiana who are given larger parts, allowing the reader a new opportunity to get to know them!

For those of you who are nervous about dipping your toes into the paranormal fan fiction world, may I highly suggest that you start your journey with Mr. Darcy’s Bite?  Not only does it top my JAFF list, but it’s pretty high up on my paranormal reading list as well.  You won’t be disappointed!

5 out of 5 Regency Stars

Mr. Darcy’s Bite, by Mary Lydon Simonsen
Sourcebooks (2011)
Trade paperback (336) pages
ISBN: 978-1402250774

© 2007 – 2011 Kimberley Denny-Ryder, Austenprose

Mr. Darcy’s Bite Blog Tour with author Mary Simonsen, & Giveaway

Mr Darcy's Bite, by Mary Simonsen (2011)Halloween season is upon us, and that includes paranormal novels arriving to get us in the mood for the spooky holiday. Please join us today in welcoming author Mary Simonsen on her blog tour in celebration of the release of Mr. Darcy’s Bite a new paranormal Pride and Prejudice-inspired story published on October 1, 2011, by Sourcebooks. Mary has kindly shared her insights into her inspiration and research for our readers.

Hi Laurel Ann. It’s always good to be back on Austenprose, but today is especially significant. Not only do I have a new release, Mr. Darcy’s Bite, but today is my birthday. It’s one of those big ones that end in a zero. I won’t say how old I am, but I’m reading Social Security brochures.

I thought I might begin by sharing an excerpt from the prologue of Mr. Darcy’s Bite: The story opens with fourteen-year-old Darcy being bitten by a wolf in the Black Forest:

William retreated, but from a distance, the wolf followed him. With his heart pounding in his chest, he finally reached the road and could see the men working on the carriage. Before going in search of his father, he took one last look down the road and saw the wolf standing in plain view. Because of the full moon, the road was lit up as if it were daytime, leaving the female lupine completely exposed. Without thinking, William waved to her, and it was only then that she returned to the woods. The only conclusion he could draw was that she had wanted to make sure he was safe. But what kind of wolf did that?

You asked me to write about my inspiration for penning a werewolf novel. I had two motivations. The first was that I wanted to write a short story for Halloween for a fanfiction site where I posted most of my stories, and it was appropriately titled “Mr. Darcy on the Eve of All Saints Day.” But the response was so great that I just kept writing. Before I knew it, my short story had become a full-length novel. It shows what a little encouragement can do.

My second motivation was to respond to another Darcy werewolf story. Although I applauded the author for creating a dark atmosphere, her Darcy and Elizabeth were not mine. In the first place, Darcy did not tell Elizabeth he was a werewolf before marrying her, and because of the threat of exposure, he had separated his bride from her family by bringing Elizabeth to a castle far, far away from Longbourn. In my mind, Darcy would not have done either of those things. So with a sword (actually computer) in hand, I set about righting the wrong. Continue reading

Northanger Alibi, by Jenni James – A Review

What qualifies a story as a retelling of a Jane Austen novel? Reverent adherence to Austen’s plot line? Faithful interpretation of characterization?  Emulation of her prose style? I asked myself these questions several times while reading Jenni James’ new novel Northanger Alibi, the first book in her Austen Diaries series of contemporary counterparts to Austen’s six classic novels. At what point does an Austen retelling diverge so far that it is not a retelling at all? And, more importantly, does it really matter? This led me to evaluate my Janeitehood. Am I a Formidable, or an Iconoclastic Austen sequel reader? Honestly, if you can answer these questions immediately, you will know if you want to read this novel or not. I could not decide, so I continued reading.

Claire Hart is a sixteen year old country girl from New Mexico whose never been kissed. Like any teenager she’d like it to be otherwise. She is Twi-hard to the extreme having read the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer numerous times, seen the movies and obsessed over its heroes Edward Cullen and Jacob Black beyond the point of redemption. She is confident that she is now an expert on vampires and werewolves and can spot them on sight. When she and her sister Cassidy are given the chance to travel to Seattle with family friends for a summer holiday she is ecstatic to be near the epicenter of the Twi-world, Forks, Washington. Her trip to the Emerald City takes an interesting turn when she is introduced to Tony Russo, a handsome young man who likes to tease her, is interested in fine fashion, uses the word nice frequently and according to Claire’s first impression is definitely a vampire. Next she meets tall, dark and overbearing Jaden Black who is Quileute, the same local Native American tribe as the Twilight character Jacob and therefore must also be a werewolf. Everything she experiences is seen through the Gothic prism of Twilight characters and she is certain that her deductions are correct. Her sister is skeptical until she too starts reading the addictive novels that Claire has brought along with her. As both of Claire’s new supposedly paranormal male friends vie for her affections, she must learn to distinguish between fiction and reality and to trust her own instincts in matters of the heart.

Northanger Alibi is a charming tale written for a pre-teen audience craving more vampire and werewolf fare after reading the sensationally popular Twilight series. As such, it gently mocks the genre and its obsessive fans while following its heroine in her first experiences with love and romance. The concept of combining Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, a parody of the melodramatic Gothic fiction so popular in Austen’s time, with the hugely successful modern Gothic tale Twilight was intriguing to me. The story had a promising beginning and then wanders away from Austen’s classic tale to the author’s unique plot and characterizations. Her hero and heroine do have similarities to Austen’s Catherine Morland and Henry Tilney: she is impressionable, naive and obsessed with Gothic fiction; he teases, likes fashion and the word nice, but beside a few other plot comparisons and character allusions, that is just about as close as it gets to the original. The ending brings us back to some resemblance of Austen’s story, but by then this reader was baffled.

Why am I picking at this funny and exuberant debut novel written by a promising new author you ask? Because of how it has been marketed. “This modern Gothic remake of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, with a nod to Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, will leave you in stitches.” The Formidable in me must warn readers who purchase this book because of the Jane Austen connection that they will find very little Abbey in this Northanger. On the other hand, the Iconoclast in me admires the author’s energy and creativity, and blames her editor and publisher for not pointing out the egregious omissions and addressing them. Promoting this book as a retelling of Austen’s novel is misleading. Promoting this book as a Twilight inspired story for pre-teens pairs the author’s creative choices with her target audience. Northanger Alibi is a great concept novel and a fun read for those interested in Twilight, but not the most rewarding fare for the Janeite who is expecting more than a passing resemblance to the original story.

2 out of 5 Regency Stars

Northanger Alibi: The Austen Diaries, by Jenni James
Valor Publishing Group, Orem, Utah
Hardcover, text (310) pages
ISBN: 978-1935546153

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