Thursday, December 03, 2009

Mr Darcy, Vampyre – review

Author: Amanda Grange

First Published: 2009

Contains spoilers

The Blurb: A test of love that will take them to Hell and back…

“December 1902

“My hand is trembling as I write this letter. My nerves are in tatters and I am so altered that I believe you would not recognise me. The past two months have been a nightmarish whirl of strange and disturbing circumstances, and the future…

“I am afraid.

“If anything happens to me, remember that I love you and that my spirit will always be with you, though we may never see each other again. The world is a cold and frightening place where nothing is as it seems.”

Review: I am not a Jane Austen fan; her works just do not float my boat. My wife is a fan and, whilst I respect that, it is a case of never the twain shall meet. However, I am a vampire genre fan (well, d’uh) and thus I did want to read this reinvention of and sequel to (arguably) Austen’s most famous work. Unlike some of the Austen reinventions currently doing the rounds, this does not alter the original text but instead adds a new premise – in this case that Mr Darcy was a vampire and sets itself as a sequel (indeed it begins with Elizabeth and Darcy’s marriage).

It should also be said that Amanda Grange seems to be an Austen fan herself, as opposed to a vampire genre writer, and has also written another straight adaptation based on Pride and Prejudice.

What we get then is a little unusual as we sit watching a drama unfold where we know (if only by dint of the title) the truth and the main character (for the book is written from Elizabeth’s perspective) does not. We see little clues that she does not pick up on and this is both interesting and frustrating. Interesting, simply in that it makes for a good little read, frustrating in that we get little in the way of direct vampiric action – indeed there is a prejudice shown against the marriage but it might as well be a class issue as a supernatural issue at times. Amongst the clues we see are the more referential moments – such as Darcy’s ‘Uncle’ being the Count Polidori.

All this works well enough until the reveal. The truth outs due to an ancient and powerful vampire who wants to have his wicked way with Elizabeth – up until then she has assumed that Darcy just doesn’t want to touch her but he has been tormenting himself with restraint. Following this we get a little lore – “Every vampyre has a different weakness. For some, it is garlic, for my uncle the Count, it is that he has no reflection. My family’s weakness is that we cannot be out of doors during sunrise or sunset. At those times of day, we become translucent and so we cannot pass amongst humans unnoticed.”

I must say I found this interesting – the use of sunset and sunrise as a time of transition has been used before by Stoker and the concept of becoming translucent (and if it happens too often they might permanently lose some solidity) is better than sparkling!

Other than this we have a suspicion that transformation to bat is possible, certainly they can mesmerise their prey and cause visual hallucination (the bad vampire makes Elizabeth live through a time from the past). They are stronger than humans and holy symbols only effect them if from their own time (a pre-Christian vampire would not be warded by the cross). Darcy’s familial line finds crosses uncomfortable only. Love, as a symbol, pre-dates all and can burn naughty vampires.

So things started getting interesting and then… things ended, really quickly and much too conveniently. This involves… massive spoiler… Darcy becoming human again and, the reason I mention this is because, something struck me as odd. As they enter the Count Polidori’s castle an axe falls between Darcy and Elizabeth – its proximity to Darcy portending that Elizabeth will cause his death. When he becomes human he says that she has caused the death of his vampiric side – that was, he suggests, the meaning of the portent. Surely as he became human for her, and thus mortal, the truth would be that she has literally caused his death (even if it is from old age after a goodly number of years).

So negatively the ending felt rushed and too convenient and I would have liked to have seen more of the vampires throughout and gained more lore. Positively, aside from those criticisms, it was generally quiet a good read. 6 out of 10.

6 comments:

Nicole_Hadaway said...

Thanks for the review, Taliesin. I'm a bit Austen'ed out right now, but the vampiric lore in this book does seem interesting, especially how it changes for each family.

Polidori is also featured in Supping With Panthers by Tom Holland -- have you ever read that book? I'd be interested to see what you thought of it.

Derek Tatum said...

That's a great cover... certainly better than the cover to the US edition.

This is a book I have waffled on, not that I am necessarily against Austen so much as unfamiliar. But I have to admit the alterations to traditional vampire lore are interesting. When it comes to supernatural-based vampires, I like it when an author twists it rather than just discounts it altogether.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Cheers guys.

Nicole, I have indeed read supping with panthers and the book that came before it - The Vampyre. I've also read Holland's Deliver us from evil (set in the English civil war).

However, all 3 were quite some time ago. I remember enjoying them - but that is as much as I do remember. damn old age and faulty memories lol

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Derek

I just had a look-see at the US cover and I agree, I much prefer the UK one.

Whilst over at Amazon US I realised there is another Darcy as a vampyre book...

Zahir Blue said...

Yours is the first review of this book I've yet found that wasn't from an Austen POV. Thanks!

Taliesin_ttlg said...

cheers Zahir, the vampires will always out here!