Thursday, September 24, 2009

Mr. Darcy, Vampyre Book Review *Amanda Grange*

I must be upfront. I haven’t read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. I have seen the novel brought to the screen, most famously with Colin Firth playing Mr. Darcy and the latest version with Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennett. When I heard Amanda Grange wrote a sequel to this classic novel and gave it a paranormal slant with Darcy possibly being a vampire, I was both wary and intrigued. I will also admit I’m not big on present day authors taking such novels from deceased authors and writing a sequel.

With that in mind, I decided to read Mr. Darcy, Vampyre and see what type of job Amanda has done with two of the most beloved literary couples of all time. I really wanted to see what happens between Darcy and his Lizzy of the beautiful eyes as a married couple.

Mr. Darcy, Vampyre begins with Elizabeth and her sister Jane on the morning they’re to be married. They are both excited and happy to marry such wonderful men. Their weddings go off without a hitch and Elizabeth expects to honeymoon at the Lake District. Darcy surprises Elizabeth and will take her to Dover where they will have a Grand Tour and travel the Continent and visit his relatives in Paris, Switzerland and Italy. Elizabeth is a bit cautious about going to France because of the impending war there but Darcy puts her at ease because the peace there should last awhile and there are so many friends and family he wants her to meet. Elizabeth is open to the adventure since she has never been out of England.

Mr. and Mrs. Darcy travel in comfort. Elizabeth can’t wait for Darcy to make her his wife in every sense. But as they travel father away from everything she knows, Darcy becomes more silent and distant, much like the man she first found him to be. She expresses her feelings and Darcy’s excuse is that he is just preoccupied and anxious to see his relatives. But as the days go by and Darcy still hasn’t come to Elizabeth’s bedroom at night to engage in husband and wife activities that are expected in marriage, her concern grows. She comes to the conclusion that Darcy doesn’t want her to get with child because traveling like they are doing could be dangerous for an unborn child. For the time being Elizabeth is settled with the idea, even though she longs for Darcy’s touch.

Elizabeth feels awkward around Darcy’s relatives, especially when they are in Paris and meet his cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam who she overhears arguing with Darcy about marrying her. Elizabeth continues to question if marrying Darcy was the right thing and raises these concerns to him. He acts surprised and expresses his love and devotion to his wife. As they continue on their adventure, things become even stranger. They stay at Count Polidori’s castle in the Alps. He is Darcy’s uncle and a very much a hermit. And when the castle is stormed by a group of angry villagers, Elizabeth and Darcy barely make their escape.

As the newlyweds travel onward, Elizabeth can’t help but feel that her husband is keeping something from her. She shares her concerns with Jane in letters. And then finally Darcy tells Elizabeth a secret he has kept from her, one that could destroy their and possibly his life.

Mr. Darcy, Vampyre fell flat. The Darcy and Elizabeth I thought I knew where not the ones Amanda has written. Both these characters come across as copies of what Amanda thinks they would be if Austen had written a sequel. Elizabeth was not engaging as she should have been, especially because Mr. Darcy, Vampyre is from her point of view. Darcy is so one dimensional and distant. He barely makes a ripple on the page even when he is in a scene.

There are some other instances that irked me such as Elizabeth never calling Darcy by his first name or even thinking it in her head. She continually calls him Darcy, just like Carrie Bradshaw from Sex in the City calls Mr. Big by Big when she talks about him. Also the whole, I can’t have sex with you because I have no reason, was another pet peeve of mine. You would think if Darcy was a vampire he could use his powers to make Elizabeth think they have been intimate as man and wife. Because Amanda was trying to keep the same tone and writing of the time period, I wouldn’t expect an in depth description of love making between Elizabeth and Darcy, but at least a fade to black scene or a subtle reference in regards to the love shared between these two.

The action and suspense didn’t make an impression at all and I found myself speed reading, especially towards the end of the book. Many of the scenes felt contrived and are lackluster. I also found myself bored about Darcy’s curse and his search of the cure so he and Elizabeth could go back to Pemberley and finally make some babies.

Mr. Darcy, Vampyre did not have the “sparkle” I was expecting and failed to deliver. (Sourcebooks)

Grade: C



heidenkind said...

This book sounds like it would try my patience. I'm still trying to figure out why the author made the main characters Darcy and Elizabeth--aside from marketing, of course. It might have been better if she chose a less familiar set of characters.

I'm kind of shocked you haven't read P&P, KB. You got through Once and Future King and Wuthering Heights but not P&P? What other classic novels have you been avoiding?

Mandi said...

Yes, flat. And a bit boring. If you are going to make Darcy into a vamp, play it up!

Kate T said...

I'd recommend reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, that book is anything but boring- I even prefer it to the original story. I've got Mr. Darcy, Vampyre on my tbr list, as well as Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, but now I'm a bit weary of the Darcy book, it just sounds boring. Thanks for the in-depth review!

Morning Glow said...

I agree. I read it recently myself. And it was just... eh. That's how I felt when I finished it.. "eh." I was hoping it would be so much better, since I loved Pride and Prejudice, and I love vampires.. but apparently, at least in this instance... it doesn't do it for me. Le'sigh.

Liza said...

I loved Pride & Prejudice, but don't really care anything about all the paranormal books based on Darcy & Lizzie.

Donna [Fantasy Dreamer's Ramblings] said...

I've read several reviews on this book and it seems most either loved it or didn't really like it. I think I'll be taking a pass. Between you and Mandi, I'm going with your opinions - trust 'em. Thanks for the review.

Smokinhotbooks said...

Oh man, when you tackle writing about Austen's beloved Darcy you need to bring your A-game. Thanks, great review and commentary!

orannia said...

See, the thought of taking a classic novel and adding paranormal... *shudders* Not for me.

KMont said...

I actually had this one on order at Amazon and then they notified me that it would not be arriving when they originally said. So I canceled my order and I'm glad I did. I've not read one review or opinion from those whose opinion I value where they enjoyed it and thought it was better than passingly OK. If I wsa to get it I'd try for the library first

Rebecca @ DSB said...

I think you were a bit kind in your review. I'd give this one a D, and maybe I'm feeling overly grumpy because I paid full-freight for it. Wow, it was such a disappointment. I have yet to find a paranormal JA wannabe that pulls it off (and that includes Pride and Prejudice and Zombies too). For my money, the one to buy is Pamela Aiden's Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentlemen series. There is one cavet -- it really reads best for those who've read the original P&P. Aiden nails those Darcy perfectly though.