Emma Reduction with the Occasional Vampire Attack
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
Do not be alarmed… but it seems like the good gentlefolk of Highbury having been living amongst… vampires! It is true, a band of savage vampires have recently attacked citizens of Highbury to drink some aristocratic blood! But what everyone doesn’t know is that some of the esteemed gentlemen of the neighborhood are vampires as well…
In Emma and the Vampires, there are two classes of vampires: one consists of hideous, wild vampires that come out and attack at night, the other includes gentlemen such as Mr. Knightley, Mr. Elton, and Mr. Weston. Vampires like Mr. Knightley and Mr. Elton do not breath or have heartbeats and they never sleep or eat. Moreover, when they do drink blood – which is very seldom – it is usually from someone with whom they are acquainted. They are amongst the class of “good” vampires and are involved with vanquishing the wild vampire vagrants of Highbury.
In the Acknowledgements of this novel it is mentioned that one of Wayne Josephson’s goals when writing Emma and the Vampires was to make Jane Austen’s “delightful novel accessible to modern readers, especially young adults.” This he most certainly accomplishes. His retelling uses simpler syntax and more comprehensible language that will make it easily understood by young adult readers. It seems Mr. Josephson has developed an interest in retelling classics as he has published four other novel retellings in a series titled Readable Classics. These novels include: The Scarlet Letter, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, and Moby Dick.
Mr. Josephson’s retelling of Emma corresponds and parallels Jane Austen’s Emma beautifully. Both books have fifty-five chapters and all plot events occur in coinciding chapters. Mr. Elton declares himself in both chapter fifteen of Jane Austen’s and Wayne Josephson’s novels. This type of retelling would be suitable for readers who did not understand or like Jane Austen’s Emma the first time they read it. Furthermore, even though it isn’t labeled as such, this book is most definitely geared towards young adult readers. If you have read and enjoyed Jane Austen’s Emma, this novel may not be for you. You might find yourself asking: “Why am I reading a reduction of Emma when I can read the novel itself?”
I wasn’t too fond of the vampire aspect in the novel. I greatly anticipated reading this novel when I found out that Mr. Knightley was to be a vampire. I thought it would add a sense of danger and capability to his already excellent character and that the story would be more about him. However, this did not occur. Besides not eating and sleeping, the only vampire activity in this novel is slaying other vampires. I was disappointed that there was no explanation of how they became vampires or references to their vampire activities. I am very curious to know what Mr. Knightley does with his nights since he cannot sleep! Furthermore, I would like to know the story behind the two classes of vampires and why they don’t associate with each other.
One aspect I found perplexing was whether or not the citizens of Highbury knew people like Mr. Elton, Mr. Knightley, and Mr. Weston were vampires. They seemed aware of their eating and sleeping habits, commented about their fangs and pale skin, and observed their quick speed and super strength. Did they really not know they were in the company of vampires? When Mr. Elton’s eyes turned from black to red, were they oblivious to the fact that it was because he recently drank blood? My other quibble is that I felt the ending was a little ambiguous, instead of ending on a happy note the story ends with the sense of impending peril. Perhaps there will be a second book to follow this one…
While there were moments of vampire humor such as: Emma and Harriet becoming vampire slayers akin to Buffy and Robert Martin, with his remarkable strength, pitching a cow over a fence, I overall felt this vampire mash-up unsuccessful. However, despite my criticisms I do hope that Emma and the Vampires achieves Mr. Josephson’s goal of making Emma more accessible to modern audiences. Introducing new readers to the world of Jane Austen is always a most praiseworthy and admirable accomplishment!
This is my seventh completed item for the “Everything Austen Challenge II” hosted by Stephanie’s Written Word.
**Sorry I have ben MIA for a few days, school starts Monday and all this past week I have been working on getting my classroom ready! It’s so sad to see summer go!