I just finished rereading Michael Thomas Ford’s vampire parody novel Jane Bites Back. I needed to read it again to refresh my memory of all the events and characters before reading his new release, Jane Goes Batty. I found this reread to be most enlightening, not only because it refreshed my memory, but because I discovered my enjoyment in this novel was much greater the second time around!
I read Jane Bites Back about eleven months ago, and gave it 3 out of 5 stars. I remember having very mixed feelings about it when I wrote my review. It was my first Jane Austen paranormal mash-up, and while I was glad it wasn’t too graphic or violent, I found myself slightly disappointed in the author’s rendering of Jane Austen. My main complaint was that his Jane Austen lacked the biting wit and sarcastic social commentary that readers witness in her letters and narration. While I still feel that to be true, it didn’t bother me quite as much.
So, why did my opinion change?
I’m not quite sure, I think it may be because I’ve read several Austen paranormal mash-ups and novels about vampires since reading Mr. Ford’s novel. I’ve seen Jane Austen turned into a vampire in Jane and the Damned, witnessed the transformation of Highbury citizens into vampires in Emma and the Vampires, and encountered many paranormal elements infused with her novels in Bespelling Jane Austen.
Or, maybe it was because Jane Bites Back was my first foray into the world of paranormal literature. At the time, never having read any of the popular vampire stories, I didn’t really know what to expect. I think I mistakenly took it a little too seriously. Now after reading and devouring several vampire novels (including two by the talented Syrie James), I think I understand that you are supposed to suspend disbelief a little, not look at everything so rationally, and indulge in a little escapism when reading paranormal literature.
Or, perhaps over the last year I’ve become less critical? I’m not so sure about this though, if anything I think I’ve had the tendency to become more critical and selective in my reading.
What do I think about Jane Bites Back now?
I found Jane Bites Back to be more humorous than I did previously. I smiled when Jane (Austen) Fairfax frequently talked to herself out loud or to her cat, laughed at the good-natured ribbing between Jane and her employee/friend Lucy, and took pleasure in the love/hate relationship between Jane and Byron! In addition, I was completely engrossed in Jane’s manuscript Constance. I loved the little snippets of Constance at the beginning of each chapter and wish I could read the whole novel (if only it existed)! It seems like a very passionate and complex story!
However, I still wish Jane had a little more bite to her and still believe she would have done more with her 200 years of being undead than write one manuscript! Moreover, I would love to have more of a back-story between Jane and Byron, but perhaps that will happen inthe second book…
Now after rereading this novel I want to re-rate it as 4.5 out of 5 stars. While I will bump up the rating higher, I’m not going alter or erase my original review. I will, however, link to this post at that bottom of that review, in case readers want to compare my first impression with my second.
One thing you can be sure of is that I’m now very eager to sink my teeth into Jane Goes Batty!