More Parody Than Paranomal
1st Time Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
2nd Time Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Source: Giveaway Win
Since Jane Bites Back by Michael Thomas Ford is my first foray into the world of Jane Austen vampire and zombie mash-ups, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Would it be too gruesome? Too graphic? Too horrific? No, I’m very happy to say it wasn’t! Yes, Jane Austen is a vampire, a member of the “undead,” and must feast on human blood every so often in order to survive, but that is not the focus of this novel.
Jane (Austen) Fairfax lives a quiet life as a bookstore owner in Brakeston, New York with her intelligent yet sometimes impertinent assistant, Lucy; friend/male suitor, Walter Fletcher; her cat, Tom; and Constance, an unpublished manuscript, that has been rejected 116 times. Our dear Jane is despondent and exasperated that she is finding no success publishing her novel while items like Jane Austen finger puppets and The Jane Austen Workout Book are selling like hotcakes in her store. She fully intends to give up on trying to publish her manuscript when one publishing company finally makes her offer! Jane is elated that someone appreciates and loves her work again but now faces the challenge of retaining her anonymity throughout the arduous publishing process. Things get even more complicated when a certain vampire from her past shows up (the one that turned her into a vampire) and threatens to kill or “turn” Jane’s closest friends!
I have mixed feelings about this book, so I apologize if this review seems a little ambivalent. What I did like about the book was that it wasn’t too graphic or vampire-y and that it told a tale of my favorite author being alive in the 21st cenutry (*sigh* if only!) In addition, I liked the comical look it gave us of the publishing industry and that some other famous literary figures made cameo appearances in this novel. What I wasn’t too keen on was how the plot seemed to jump around leaving a lot of events unexplained or resolved.
My favorite aspect of this novel were the two love interests in Jane’s life. One is very Charles Bingley-like, very affable and accepting, while the other is a vampire from her past who is very dark and dangerous. (I personally liked the dark and dangerous one.) I would have enjoyed reading more about her past history with this dangerous vampire whom she loved and understand better why he has suddenly appeared back in her life after 200 years?!?
I usually love any book that names Jane Austen as its heroine, but in Jane Bites Back I found that I only somewhat liked the portrayal of Jane (Austen) Fairfax. While I did like the fact that she works in a bookshop, I was surprised that she had written only one manuscript in the past 200 years. Furthermore, although I am no Austen expert, I felt the portrayal of Jane Austen was a little off in this novel; she didn’t act or sound like I expected Jane Austen would and there was very little of Austen’s sarcasm or acerbic wit in her commentary.
Perhaps I am being a little too critical or perhaps I should stay away from parodies of Jane Austen. I guess my expectations were a little too high for this one. Nonetheless, I found this book to be a pleasant read and I am very glad I read it. I do intend to read Mr. Ford’s next book Jane Goes Batty because Jane Bites Back ended a bit unresolved, and I curious to see what happens next.
UPDATE: After reading this book a second time, a year later, some of my opinions about this book have changed, check them out HERE.