REVIEW: Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange

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Mr. Darcy Vampyre by Amanda GrangeWhen Lady Catherine de Bourgh tells Elizabeth Bennet that Mr. Darcy comes from an ancient family…well, she isn’t just being a snob.

The beginning of the newlywed Darcys’ life together, in which Mr. Darcy takes advantage of the Peace of Amiens to show his wife continental Europe, should be a time of unalloyed happiness for Elizabeth Darcy–after all, if adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad–but her joy in her marriage and her love for her husband are dimmed by worry. Why did she surprise a look of pure torment on Darcy’s face only a few hours after their wedding? Why does he not consummate their marriage, despite the obvious passion that they share? And why is Elizabeth dreaming of events that occurred over a hundred years previously–and of a mysterious, compelling gentleman who is not her husband? The mystery builds to a thrilling, chilling climax and a completely satisfying ending. There is plenty of romance and a few dangerously tender moments between the newlyweds. (Let’s face it, the whole bloodsucking thing is not a metaphor for playing whist, know what we mean?)

However, Mr. Darcy, Vampyre is more than just the simple addition of vampire lore to P&P; instead, Amanda Grange has crafted a clever homage to the Gothic novels that Jane Austen so enjoyed. As in all of Ms. Grange’s Austen-inspired novels, she has clearly done her homework, and Mr. Darcy, Vampyre most strongly echoes Ann Radcliffe’s tales of psychological horror, incorporating all the elements that knowledgeable fans of the Gothic expect: a trip through the roughest and most picturesque parts of the Continent; loving descriptions of the scenery (though fortunately, unlike Radcliffe, they don’t go on for page after tiresome page, and there is no doggerel poetry further slowing things down); mysterious castles with oddly-behaving servants; banditti, mercenaries, and fearful, violent villagers; an accident that, Elizabeth is told, portends death; a story of another young lady just like Lizzy who arrived under similar circumstances and met a bad end; and there even is a “black veil” moment, when our heroine sees something so horrid she has no choice but to swoon. The reader is not immediately enlightened to the horror, though we can guess it; and, again fortunately unlike Radcliffe, Ms. Grange does not keep us hanging until the end of the book and then come up with a lame afterthought to close the loop. We also felt echoes of Dracula, Polidori’s seminal story “The Vampyre,” Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Twilight, and even a smidgen of Harry Potter.

The book is an homage, not a parody, but there is a deep-lurking humor that recognizes the fun in Gothic novels, a tone set by the dedication (we won’t give it away, as we were not expecting it, and it made us laugh for a solid minute), and one that seems to us peculiarly English, and peculiarly in the style of Jane Austen’s humor. Just because Jane parodied The Mysteries of Udolpho and other horrid novels in Northanger Abbey doesn’t mean she didn’t like horrid novels. Like Henry Tilney, Jane likely read them in two days, her hair standing on end the whole time, and afterwards laughed at herself for falling for it; she could not have written such an affectionate parody in Northanger Abbey otherwise. Make no mistake: Mr. Darcy, Vampyre is absolutely not the kind of thing that Jane Austen wrote, but it certainly is the kind of thing she read.

Unlike recent Austen/monster “mashups,” nothing is overdone, there is not as much angst as one might expect, and there are no gross-outs. This is an Austen-inspired scary story for Janeites, by a Janeite, done with affection and delivered with a very subtle British wink, and completely suitable for a 21st-century audience. Our inner Catherine Morland thought it was tremendous fun, and knows not to take it too seriously; like the heroine of a horrid novel just kidnapped by three villains in horsemen’s great coats, hang on and enjoy the ride.

We are giving away a copy of Mr. Darcy, Vampyre to two lucky AustenBlog readers, courtesy of Sourcebooks. We’re trying something different this time; just respond in the comments (be sure to leave a working e-mail address; it won’t be seen by anyone but us) and we’ll use the Random Integer Generator to choose the numbers of the winners. If you want to comment but not be entered in the giveaway, just mention it in your comment. Comment as many times as you like, but only the first comment in the thread will be counted toward your entry. Also, the contest is open to U.S. and Canada addresses only. Sorry! ETA: Contest ends Wednesday, August 12, 2009 at 10 p.m. ET. ETA the Second: If your comment gets stuck in the spam filter, we’ll unstick it, don’t worry!

54 thoughts on “REVIEW: Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange

  1. Trai

    Glad to hear the positive review– I’d heard bad things about this one, but I like Grange’s work with the diaries. I’d also found the excerpts quite interesting. As long as the vampire parts are not Twilight-inspired, count me in!

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  2. I’ve had very little interest in reading the sequels/fan lit (I’m not sure of the proper name for these types of books), but your review of this one makes me think otherwise, at least of this book. I might have to check it out.

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  3. mjryan

    I can’t wait to give this one a try. First, though, I need to read one of her Diary books. I can’t believe I haven’t gotten around to reading one yet.

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  4. Emily K

    Thank you for the review. I’ve avoided most Austen sequels/spin-offs up to now, but couldn’t really pass this one up.

    I ordered a copy last week, so please don’t add me to the drawing.

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  5. LaBarge

    I’m not a fan of vampire stories, but your review makes me want to read it. Please enter me in the drawing, too.

    And thanks for all you do on this site to brighten my day. Yours is usually the first non-work related site I visit each day.

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  6. Katy M

    Oh, that sounds delightful! I must say I hated Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, but I just finished Amanda Grange’s Mansfield Park diary last night and I really loved it. I imagine she’ll do a beautiful job with this and definitely look forward to reading it.

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  7. I’ve really enjoyed the other books by Grange that I’ve had the opportunity to read. This one sounds very interesting. Different can be very good, sometimes!

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  8. I added this to my to-read list because I’m a bit curious about the vampire aspect (even though I don’t like vampires). I’ve been holding off on purchasing a copy of the book, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed for this giveaway. ^_^

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  9. I love Amanda Grange’s other Austen-inspired books, so I’m really looking forward to this one. The fact that taps into the current vampire craze is just gravy, although I am curious to see what she does with it. Sounds like a great read! πŸ™‚

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  10. Well, now you have me curious as Vic and Laurel Ann didn’t like it much! While I liked P&P&Z, which was just silly fun, this one has me full of questions and shaking my head, “Noooooo!” I just can’t seem to get on the vampire kick (Twilgiht included).

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  11. Ana

    This book sounds like a lot of fun – kind of like a mash-up of P&P and NA. Great for a rainy afternoon on the couch with a large cup of tea.

    Please count me in for the draw. Thanks!

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  12. Val

    Vampires are not usually my cup of tea, but the review makes it sound like an intersting read. Please count me in for the drawing! Thanks!

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  13. Genevive

    I have to agree with Val. With all the twilight-shmilight, I tend to avoid vampires–but I just might have to give this one a try. Specially if I win the give away πŸ˜‰

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  14. Sarah

    I love tales of the macabre and I love Austen so I’m really excited about these new hybrid books that seem to be appearing everywhere! Zombies, vampires and Mr Darcy – what more could a girl ask for!

    Like

  15. Marybeth

    I’ve been worried about this recent Jane Meets the Undead trend, but I like the sound of this one, especially since it’s written by someone who obviously cares about the original.

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  16. Alonso

    Miss, – I am much obliged for your splendid critique of Miss Grange’s horrid book. Following a lamented reading of Mr. Lewis’ The Monk, I had foresworn novel-reading and joined the Society of Friends. But now your review of Mr. Darcy, Vampyre convinces me I must alter that principle and discover what causes Mrs. Darcy to swoon! I remain, dear Editrix, your most faithful and obedient etc.

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  17. Yasmin

    I’ve never read any Austen paraliterature but this book may change my mind (plus I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Northanger Abbey).

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  18. Meredith

    I know I’m past the deadline, but if you haven’t picked a drawing yet, I would loved to be added. Thanks for the opportunity!

    Like

  19. Mags

    We do have winners, they have been notified and responded (so they both know about it). I’ll put up an announcement later.

    Like

  20. Ann

    I haven’t read any of Amanda Grange’s books yet and didn’t intend on reading this one, but after reading this review I’ve changed my mind.

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  21. Linda

    Just bought Mr, Darcy, Vampyre. Very excited to get into it. Also reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies but, it’s going a little more slowly due to the Regency style speech.

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  22. Hi Austenblog,

    I’ve nearly finished this book at the moment and absolutely adore it. I didn’t understand all the bad reviews it was getting. I had drafted a review of this book in my head for my own book blog, basically saying what you’ve said here; that it is just like a gothic novel of the Ann Radcliffe variety. Mrs Radcliffe is my favourite author (even more than Jane Austen, but don’t tell anyone, lol!), and I’m really pleased to have found this book, it has made its way onto my list of my permanent favourites.

    To be honest, all the people who say it’s boring, are, in my opinion, the same people who claim to be such great fans of Austen yet think Northanger Abbey is Austen making fun of how ridiculous gothic novels are; the same people who gush over Austen’s work yet say they can’t even read halfway through Udolpho because it’s so boring. Do they even know that Radcliffe was one of the authors from whom Austen learnt her craft?

    That’s my rant over anyway! Excellent review, hadn’t come across the blog before but will definitely visit again.

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