Twisted Austen Reading Challenge: Fangs, Howlers, Brain-Eaters and Pyramids

Your blood sings to me! What, that line is taken? Dang!

The things we do in the name of love! Things like self-flagellating reading stuff that make us want to gouge our own eyes and eat our brains. Such as “paranormal adventures”(ugh!) of Austen’s most beloved couple Mr Darcy and Miss Elizabeth Bennet. 

For this installment of Twisted Austen, I agonised read:

  • Mr Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange, 
  • Mr Darcy’s Bite by Mary Lydon Simonsen, 
  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith, and
  • Pride and Pyramids: Mr Darcy in Egypt, by Amanda Grange and Jacqueline Web

In
Amanda Grange’s Mr Darcy, Vampyre, the aforementioned gentleman conceals his dark secret whilst
drinking tea with ladies and attending the ball at Netherfield Park. His disdainful
disregard of others is explained thus. Right! Nevertheless, as we know, he
falls in love and marries our Lizzy, a mere mortal. He suddenly realises
is a bit of a problem, and to Lizzy’s utter astonishment changes their honeymoon
plans and they are dashing towards the coast and to the Continent.   Sadly, this is where the suspense ends.
Around page 3. 

Don’t expect anyone to get staked or bitten in this. Actually, nothing much happens at all. Except lots of travelling through picturesque European scenery, reminiscent of Laurence Sterne’s A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy.  And that is one boring book! Please forgive me Ms Grange, but it has to be said: your ‘creation’ is equally lacking and full of cliches. All the vampires, (excuse me, vampyres) are young. And beautiful. And rich. But not sparkly. Darcy’s so called ‘uncle’…umm… Count Polidori* lives in a big Gothic castle that is stormed by villagers with pitchforks and torches for some unknown reason. Then there’s the Ancient Unnamed vampire who wants to be the first to ‘bite’ Lizzy. Poor Lizzy! Not only does her marriage remain unconsummated during this sojourn, but she also suffers loss of personality and turns into a simpering, anxious Fanny Price. And, of course, it is all George Wickham’s fault! But fear not, there is a happy ending. Deus ex machina at full blast, Indiana Jones-style!  
*John Polidori was the name of Lord Byron’s friend and doctor who penned “The Vampyre”, considered the first published modern vampire story in 1819. 


Verdict: Great for insomniacs! Otherwise, go and watch paint dry, you’ll have more fun!

****

Mary Lydon Simonsen is all Team Darcy Wolf. She gives him a shiny fur and fiery green eyes when, at the tender of thirteen, he gets accidentally infected by a werewolf whilst doing ‘number two’ in Germany’s Black Forest. This made me laugh, and this is where I realised the author does not want us to take this seriously. It would be of utmost difficulty to do so when Darcy asks Lizzy to touch his scar. Which is on his butt.  Or when she proposes they run away to Gretna Green, the 19th century equivalent to Vegas, well known for ‘runaway weddings’.
We get to meet some familiar characters such as Georgina and Anne de Borough and some new ones, mostly naughty nobles and upper class landed gentry who all happen to be werewolves as well. 

Verdict: Entertaining but forgettable. If you like werewolves, go and read Glen Duncan’s The Last Werewolf. 

****

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. NO, NO, NO! This truly is dreadful. Sacrilegious! Offensive! Not funny at all (even if for a second I felt a twinge of pleasure when Lizzy kicks Darcy’s butt as he delivers his unfortunate marriage proposal). Just look at the ending:

England remained in the shadow of Satan. The dead continued to claw their way through crypt and coffin alike, feasting on British brains….And sisters Bennet, servants of his Majesty, protectors of Hertfordshire, beholders of the secrets of Shaolin, and brides of death – were now, three of them, brides of man, their swords quieted by that only force more powerful than any warrior.

Ugh! And how outrageous that this is being made into a film! Ugh, ugh, ugh!!!!!

Verdict: I have not read any zombie novels, so can’t recommend an alternative but if you like Gothic novels you can’t go wrong with Mary Shelley’s brilliant Frankenstein.   

****

Pride and Pyramids almost made me forgive Amanda Grange for the vampire debacle. I’ll get to the ‘almost’ bit in a moment. This was a fun read. The story takes place 15 years after the events of the P&P and the Darcys have been blessed with six lovely children – three boys and three girls. We meet some new characters – Sophie Lucas, Charlotte’s youngest sister, Edward Fitzwilliam, the Colonel’s younger brother and Paul Inkworthy, an artist. The Darcys and their friends are swept by Egyptomania of the 19th century and they join many adventurers and explorers in the attempt to discover a secret tomb that is believed to be full of treasures. It is the new characters, their love triangle and growth that makes this an interesting read, more than the presence of Darcys themselves. Actually, the further it moved from the original story, the better it got. Paranormal and historical are nicely interwoven and the deft hand of Egyptologist, Jacqueline Webb, is evident.

And it almost worked. Until George Wickham got chased by crocodiles. Of course, everything is always Wickham’s fault! 

Verdict: Fun read, particularly if you like anything associated with Ancient Egypt.  

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