“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that…”
“…there is nothing new under the sun.” Or in this novel’s case, should that be “moon”?
You see, it’s 1810, and the Damned have fallen out of favor with the Prince Regent–“banished from polite society”–even though they were crucial in helping defeat invading French forces during the Napoleonic Wars. Now members of the disgraced Damned have taken up residence in the countryside near Jane Austen and her family.
Yes, that Jane Austen. Jane is no longer one of the Damned. She took the “Cure” in Bath and has been quietly living at home with her mother and sister and focusing on her writing. Now, the Damned, including the vampire who turned her, have come to settle at the Great Hall rented out by Jane’s brother. They are not alone, however. Another group of the Damned, including Jane’s former lover, have also moved nearby. Jane’s “Cure” is not likely to last, and its dissipation is precipitated by these familiar faces coming back into her life.
This might well be considered a mashup story, part of that new category of fiction first—and perhaps best—represented by Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Other titles in the genre include: Grahame-Smith’s Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter; Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Ben H. Winters; Android Karenina, also by Winters; Jane Slayre by Sherri Browning Erwin; and The Meowmorphosis by Cook Coolridge.
Combining classic literature with pop cultural horror tropes rose to prominence in 2009 – 2010. The “new” subgenre continues today with varying degrees of success. In fact, Jane Austen and her characters have long ben recycled. There are sequels, spinoffs, and what if scenarios written by a number of authors, mainly in the fiction and romance genres. One could consider them fan fiction. Yet many can be as inventive in their own right as the original source material.
It should be no surprise that many of the oeuvres used as mashups are out of copyright. These works have long been part of our culture and continue to inspire us. With the bounds of copyright expired, writers are free to creatively use these characters and themes for their own works.
Is this fair use? …
The story here, in Jane Austen: Blood Persuasion, is an original one. Austen and her family are based on real people, but the novel’s story isn’t culled from any of Austen’s novels, though it does reference them. Knowing the main character, Jane, is the Jane Austen adds a level of depth to the story it might otherwise not have had, but is it really needed?
I’ve not read a biography of Jane Austen so I don’t know how authentic her representation in the novel is. It seemed rather good, considering the story’s nature. But was it necessary for the main character to be Jane Austen?
Sadly, I don’t know if I would have been as inclined to read this book. And I believe that’s the point, the selling point. Historical and real persons have long been figures in fiction. There’s nothing like including such “characters” in fiction to ground a story in a sense of reality quite like are own. And here, the appeal of reading a story about Jane Austen as a vampire is most definitely eye catching to certain readers.
Jane Austen: Blood Persuasion is an enjoyable story with romance and vampires. This Jane Austen is witty and adventurous; she makes for a fascinating heroine in this conceived world with its Damned. Readers of paranormal fiction would certainly enjoy it. Those more firmly grounded in realistic Regency fiction might be more hesitant.
The book is actually a sequel to Jane and the Damned (2010). Not having read the first book was in no way deterrent to my reading of this second book.
Author Janet Mullany started out writing romances that are set in Georgian England. “I’ve now become one of those writers who does terrible things to Jane Austen,” she states in an Amazon.com bio. For more about the author and her books, visit her website here.