Aug 212010

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!

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  11 Responses to “Emma and the Vampires – Wayne Josephson”


    Thank you for posting this. I have to admit the “supernatural austen” trend is a little weird for me. I love urban fantasy novels, but still, Austen is Austen to me. 🙂


    We are in complete agreement on this one Meredith. It did not make the commitment to be a comedic parody or a real scary vampire novel. That would have made for interesting reading.


    ooh 2.5! That’s not so good! I though this one would be fun. Sorry that it wasn’t.


    I’m not into vampires. However, werewolves are another story. Have a great school year!


    Oh no! The notion of “readable classics” sends far more fear tingling down my spine than any vampire story! Half the point of reading any book is exploring the way in which the writer uses language – changing that language leaves you with nothing more than glorified cliff notes. I seriously disapprove.

    Regarding Emma and the Vampires, I too was thinking Mr. Knightly had great vampiric potential and am sorry the story didn’t make better use of it. I think this is one mash up that I wont be subjecting myself to, or at least not until the steady stream of far more interesting Austenesque dries up (hopefully never!). Thanks for the review!


    ick, too bad.

    btw: you’ve been awarded ;-D


    I have no sympathy for vampires and monsters in general, but when they “invade”, meaninglessly, my beloved JA world I really hate them. So, that’s it, I said it. I solemnly promised myself I’ll never read one of these “blends”. Scold me if I ever forget!Sorry for being so blunt and
    thanks for your honest review, Meredith!


    Well reviewed! I’m not sure this version is for me…although I too like the possibilities associated with Mr. Knightley as a vampire.


    Nice to read your review again, miss Esparza, don’t you believe there are too many story tells about vampires already?


    I meant “tales”, “story tales”


    It seems to be a growing trend, margecavani!

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