Thursday, March 4, 2010

"Jane Bites Back", a review

It was with some trepidation
that I started reading
"Jane Bites Back" by Michael Thomas Ford.

At first glance, it seemed to be the perfect book for me; a crossover between my two favourite genres, bloodsucking fiends vs. pelisses and petticoats.

However... such crossovers are notoriously difficult to pull off. There may be a current fashion for bastardising Jane Austen's life and works with added zombies and sea monsters, but in my opinion very few are successful.

Still, I embarked on "Jane Bites Back" with good will and an open mind. I stormed through the entire book in a day, which is one thing that I can say in its favour, since not many books hold my attention so fully at the moment when I am constantly in the middle of half a dozen at any one time.

As a vampire novel it is quite delicious. Jane's vampire sire/suitor is absolutely perfect, everything one would want; and her nemesis (whose identity I guessed straight away) made me laugh out loud.

However, as a Jane Austen related book it falls decidedly flat - Janeite purists will not enjoy it! I found the character of Jane to be interesting, as long as I thought of her as Jane Fairfax - but Jane Austen she was not. There was no wit, no cutting remarks (all of those came from her assistant, Lucy), no savvy, no fire. She was ignorant of custom and etiquette in certain facets of modern life, in a way that I feel sure Jane Austen herself (she who was a stickler for manners) would never allow herself to become.

As a novel generally, the ending was also rather rushed and pat. It smacks of "buy the sequel", but without making that quite an enticing enough prospect.

While puzzling over this book last night, and trying to put my finger on what my issues with it were, I came to this final conclusion:

This book is about a modern day vampire, who just happens to be Jane Austen.
It is not about Jane Austen in the modern day, who happens to be a vampire.

It's a subtle difference, but an important one.

So, as a vampire novel I would award it three stars out of five; but sadly as an Austenesque work, only 1 out of five.

Have you read it? What's your opinion?


  1. I have seen this book in Borders and wondered about it, but passed on it. I am an Austen fan, not into vampires. I am delighted now after reading your review.

  2. I’m so happy I discovered a fellow JANEOBSSESSED blogger :)
    I love vampire romance novels- they are my guilty pleasures! And Jane Austen is definitely on my top ten list so it sounded like this book was match made in heaven- but you are right it is very difficult to make this kind of story work…

  3. I haven't read it and won't One mashup was funny, but they are everywhere these days, and most are not funny or all that well written