Friday, July 31, 2009

Sia McKye's Book Reviews: Mr. Darcy, Vampyre

Mr. Darcy, Vampire
Amanda Grange
Sourcebooks, Inc

On Sale: August 11, 2009


I’ve read Pride and Prejudice more than once as well as many of Jane Austen’s stories. I’ve also enjoyed the screen adaptations of Pride and Prejudice. I will confess, however, I’m not a big fan of Austen fan fiction.

Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, aroused my curiosity. It was certainly a different take on the characters of Pride and Prejudice. Beloved Darcy as a Vampire? I wondered how Amanda Grange would handle the whole thing. Would she be true to the characters and the flavor of the era? Would she totally modernize the vocabulary and the actions of the characters and settings or maintain the expressions and culture of Regency England?

Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, starts out like a sunny day with a storm brewing on the horizon, which gradually hides the sun and changes the atmosphere. The storm blows in and is frightening but as with all storms the clouds dissipate. The sun does return and the world is made new and peace is restored.

The story opens with Elizabeth and Jane preparing for their wedding. They are close friends as well as sisters and the essence of who they are was reassuringly present as was the dry commentary of Mr. Bennet and the flighty nerve wracked Mrs. Bennet. Proud Mr. Darcy is true to the original but slightly softened in his apparent affections for Lizzy.

The story is told from Lizzy’s point of view as was the original Pride and Prejudice. Through her eyes we see her thrill of marrying Darcy and her surprise that her honeymoon tour is not to be in Lake District, as she had thought, but will be a European tour. Lizzy is innocent in many ways, which is true to the women of the era, but she’s intelligent and perceptive. Through her eyes we see the sights and fun they’re having among the ton in Paris and the affection between them. Their travels take them beyond Paris to the Swiss Alps, Venice, and Italy. The author’s research is evident as she shows us the rich history and social culture in each location.

Amid the wonders and excitement of their travels, the tale slowly changes. Lizzy’s troubled because her expectations of her honeymoon isn’t met. Much of this is revealed in Lizzy’s letters to her sister, Jane. We also begin to see difference with Darcy and Lizzy’s growing unease as they meet many of Darcy’s ‘old’ friends. There are things said and done which puzzle her. The reader also sees some of Darcy’s previous actions in a different context as well as Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s oppositions to Darcy’s attachment to Lizzy.

Ms. Grange skillfully builds the tension and expands the darker thread into danger. She highlights Darcy’s growing fear for Lizzy and of himself. There is a powerful and dangerous foe operating behind the scenes. The visit to Darcy’s uncle has a true gothic feel to it and is well done.

I’d actually classify this story as a gothic in many ways. It’s not a light and frothy Regency as we’ve come to know of late. While it’s a love story it’s darker.

I admire the skill of the author. Amanda Grange tells the story true to Austen’s characters and time; yet she is able to weave in a believable world of events within that time. This takes a talented storyteller because we have a precedent set in the original. For example, Darcy was present during the day, attended church, and there were no unexplained deaths in the area. She is also able to capture and blend the attitudes, perceptions, and the superstitions of the era. She also has the ability to touch our emotions with her characters; we fear for Lizzy and Darcy as danger surrounds them. She paces the story well and is very good with building conflict, tension, and peril.

I won’t spoil the ending, suffice to say, I loved it and the way she plays up the adventurous spirit of Englishmen of that time. It was a well-written story and one I enjoyed reading.

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I will be interviewing Amanda Grange on August 21, 2009.
Be sure to join us.