Mr. Darcy, Vampyre
by Amanda Grange
This continuation of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, told from the viewpoint of Elizabeth, begins with a double wedding, as Mr. Bingley and Jane share a joint ceremony with Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. Darcy than whisks Elizabeth off to Europe to visit his many friends and relations scattered across the Continent. Elizabeth enjoys her trips to Paris, the Alps, Venice and Rome, but she’s disturbed by Darcy’s increasingly strange behavior. When weeks pass and he still hasn’t consummated the marriage, she knows that something is wrong, but the mysterious cause continues to elude her.
I liked this book. Having read several other Pride & Prejudice sequels and "updates" (like the infamous Pride & Prejudice & Zombies) I thought that the writing here came closer to matching the tone and style of the original than many other books I've read. It turns out Amanda Grange is a veteran of Austen revision, having previously re-written most of Austen's canon from a male character's point-of-view. (Mr. Darcy's Diary is the best known, but she's also done Mr. Knightley from Emma, Edmund Bertram from Mansfield Park, and Col. Brandon from Sense & Sensibility.) Having spent most of her career using Austen’s characters for her books, it’s no surprise she decided to jump the vampire bandwagon with yet another Darcy-related book.
This is definitely a book that will appeal to Austen fans more than vampire fans. Darcy's vampyrism should have identified much, much sooner. I mean, it's in the freakin' title so it's not like the reader doesn't know, and having Elizabeth flounder in ignorance for most of the book gets frustrating. I realize 'vampire' wouldn't be blatantly obvious to a country girl like Elizabeth, but yeesh. When Darcy’s secret is finally revealed, Elizabeth quickly accepts it and moves on because there’s no room left in the book for her to act otherwise. If she’d learned sooner, there would have been more time to learn more details about the vampyres and how they fit into Austen’s world – which would have been quite interesting, given that most of the wealthy and elite seem to be bloodsuckers.
I also wasn't crazy about the way the book ended. By removing Darcy's curse (in a way that was ridiculously easy, all things considered) the book is essentially reset to the status quo. None of the characters really grow or change from the ones we left at the end of Pride & Prejudice.
I did like that Grange explained the inconsistencies in vampire myth as personal quirks. Some vampires are allergic to crucifixes, some can't stand garlic, some can't enter churches…it varies just like traits vary in regular humans. It was a very simple, yet completely plausible way to make all the vampire legends work together, much more effective than dismissing them as total mythology.
Overall this was fun a diverting little romp, but there was a little too much roaming the European countryside and not nearly enough blood and gore.
3.5 out of 5 stars