Review: Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange
I did not plan to read this book. My sister brought it to my attention one day when she called me at work (and I laughed and laughed and laughed). And then she gave it to me for Christmas. The concept alone caused me enough trepidation. But when I realized it was authored by Amanda Grange I was filled with a sense of both curiosity and horror. And not because it's about vamp(y)res. Amanda Grange (www.amandagrange.com -- she ALSO needs a website designer. Geez. C'mon authors! Make it work!) who I'm sure is a lovely woman and who surely writes better fiction than I do, has written many books that I call "mirror" books. These are ones, like Mary Street's The Confession of Fitzwilliam Darcy that give us Jane's novels from the male perspective. In Ms. Grange's case she suggests them as diaries.
I had the misfortune about a year and a half (?) ago of reading her take on Emma (titled, of course, Mr. Knightley's Diary). After reading it, I didn't even want to put it back on my shelves. I handed it down to the lending library at work, hoping to never see it again. It was pretty terrible. Not only was there no passion in it (and I think Mr. Knightley is fairly passionate....especially when portrayed by Jeremy Northam. Yum.) but there was no revelation in it. We learned nothing new. So when I realized I was about to dip my toes into another of Ms. Grange's pools, I was a bit apprehensive.
And rightly so. Though this is not a mirror book. It doesn't live in Jane Austen's world. It's a sequel that begins on Jane & Lizzy's joint wedding day, and moves on from there. So the entire thing is Ms. Grange's creation. And there's no mystery in it at all. We know from the TITLE that Mr. Darcy is, in this incarnation, a vamp(y)re. And unfortunately, the story is not built up with enough drama to make the dramatic irony worth it. Elizabeth is not stupid. Give her clues like 1. oh, a bat. 2. you don't like sunset? 3. hey you were fighting and...where'd they all go and why is your lip bloody? and 4. oh honey why do you look so sad when you look at my neck? ...and she's going to figure it out. Not so for Amanda Grange's Elizabeth. It takes her until page 239 (of 308) to put it all together. Come. On.
Dragging it out does manage to land us in two new countries, but the reader becomes more focused on why Darcy is being a prig and not just being freaking honest with Elizabeth than on anything else. I'm sure Ms. Grange meant for us to take note of her Paris, her French Countryside, her Venezia and her Rome, but the images are skewed by the insignificant storytelling. Our European tour feels more like watching a commercial for Perillo Tours on TV. If Darcy had turned out to be not a vamp(y)re, but Steve Perillo, the book might have actually been interesting.
What is interesting is that Ms. Grange seems to have taken several pages from Stephanie Meyer's book (note to my mother - Stephanie Meyer wrote the Twilight saga). Not only is Darcy a vamp(y)re (no, he does not sparkle, but he is somewhat transparent at sunrise and sunset) who walks around during the day, but he (and his family/friends) don't feed on humans, and Elizabeth is (for lack of a better term and, looking to Ms. Meyer again) Darcy's cantante. While Ms. Meyer's vampires seem to each have their own gift or talent, Ms. Grange's have their own weakness.
For instance, crosses/crucifixes and garlic do not bother Darcy as they would the next vamp(y)re, but he does turn transparent at sunset/sunrise so, you know, people might freak out. And finally, Edward Cullen of the Twilight series was turned because he was ill and Carlisle had made a promise yadda yadda yadda. In this case, Georgiana was dying of the plague and Lady Catherine turned her. Darcy insisted on being turned as well so that he might care for his sister.
And the really big comparison lies in the fact that Ms. Grange's book is driven by the notion that Darcy wants to be able to have a safe and happy life with Elizabeth and allow her to go on being normal blah blah blah and therefore he refuses to go to her at night. So the whole novel is angsty. Just like the entire Twilight saga is driven by the fact that Edward Cullen doesn't want to ruin Bella's life even though he knows he can't live without her and he therefore denies her sex. Until the fourth book, of course.
Unlike in the Twilight series, and I tell you all this in the hopes that you never actually bother to pick this book up, Darcy does not end up making Elizabeth a vamp(y)re. As found in many poorly contrived novels (and Greek tragedies!) there is a deux ex machina who of course saves the day and Darcy becomes just plain old human again and they live happily ever after (excepting the fact that Georgiana is still a vamp(y)re and still looks fifteen and will probably have to live with the Darcys until they die. Whoops. )
Granted, I'm looking at all of this quite sourly from a post-apocalyptic-er....Twilight point of view. If this novel had come out 10 years ago and I'd read it in the midst of my Buffy+Angel=4Eva phase, then the novel would have probably made me weep for the fact that Angel will never be human because if he is then he won't be able to protect Buffy and save the world blah blah blah and I would have cried for days over the fact that Angel can't go to this coast of somewhere in Italy and find this monestary built over a Roman temple, built over something else where there's a petrified forest just waiting to flood and wash away the bite marks on his neck. But thank goodness we're no longer living in the year 2000. And thank goodness David Boreanaz has moved onto bigger and better things - the best being "Bones," the worst being a non-thriller-thriller with a killer nose-bleed film called "Valentine."
Next up, some 229-page ditty called Venetian Holiday because it's somewhat related (uh...Venice?) and because I need to get out of Jane Austen's head for a day and a half. Maybe Steve Perillo will be in this one.