June 20, 2017

Pride and Prejudice and Fantasy

        Yes, I’m one of those countless fans who lists Pride and Prejudice among my all-time favorite books.  But as we all know, there’s nothing speculative about Jane Austen’s fiction, so what’s a fantasy fan to do?  Easy - read one of the myriad Pride and Prejudice adaptations with a fantasy twist.  You may wish to start with the most famous…
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen with additions by Seth Grahame-Smith - All right, I admit that I haven’t actually read this one.  I was duly amused by the title, but assumed that having seen the title, I had got the joke.  If I were more interested in zombies, I might have read it anyway, but I see nothing in the reviews to entice me, despite its blockbuster success.  Opening line: It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.

        There are a downright stupefying number of P&P adaptations and sequels, so it’s no surprise that many of them should contain fantasy elements.  Among the offerings I see which I have not read - and have no intention of ever reading:
Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange - Tagline: A married man in possession of a dark fortune must be in want of an eternal wife.
Vampire Darcy’s Desire by Regina Jeffers
Darkness Falls Upon Pemberley by Susan Adriani - in which Elizabeth is the vampire
The Pemberley Vampire Hunters by Huw Thomas
Mrs. Darcy versus the Aliens by Jonathan Pinnock - Tagline: The truth is out there, though it is not universally acknowledged.
The Ghosts at Pemberley by Fenella Jane Miller
From Pemberley to Manhattan by Laís Rodrigues - involving time travel
Death Comes to Netherfield by Jacqueline Steel - involving a zombie plague and Dracula
Pride and Platypus: Mr. Darcy’s Dreadful Secret by Jane Austen and Vera Nazarian - involving demons and were-creatures of all sorts.  Opening line: It is a truth universally acknowledged, that when the moon is full over Regency England, the gentlemen are all subject to its curse.
Pemberley: Mr. Darcy’s Dragon by Maria Grace - I confess this seems a little more enticing than the others, but my library system doesn’t seem to have it, so I’ll probably never read this one, either.

        Of P&P variations I have read, I’ll mention two that are mystery rather than fantasy:
Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James - A fine mystery, but James struggles sporadically with the Austen style for a chapter or two before giving up the unequal effort.
Jane and The Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor by Stephanie Barron - Okay, I admit this is neither fantasy nor Pride and Prejudice, being the first of a mystery series featuring Jane Austen herself as the detective.  But I include it because it’s excellent.  Barron does a great job capturing Austen’s voice; the historical setting is well researched, accurate (to the best of my knowledge, anyway), and intriguing; and the mysteries are thoroughly enjoyable.
        And finally, the P&P fantasies I’ve actually read:
Pride and Prescience by Carrie Bebris - which includes cursed artefacts and something like voodoo, maybe some mind control… I confess to remembering very little about it, except that it didn’t seem to make a lot of sense and I was thoroughly disappointed.
Heart Stone by Elle Katharine White - Pride and Prejudice and Dragons, which I enjoyed tremendously.  The magical world is well-crafted and interesting, and the translation of Austen’s characters and plot into this magical world is generally very well done.  This is not Regency England with dragons, but rather a purely fantasy world so that White can make things up as she wants without any jarring historical inaccuracy.  I enjoyed that White redeems several of Austen’s “villains” so that you don’t know everything about everyone ahead of time.  The romantic tension dissipates a little too soon, but it’s replaced by action adventure to provide suspense for the climax and finale.  Tagline: They say a Rider in possession of a good blade must be in want of a monster to slay.

[Pictures: video cover design of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies;
cover design of Mrs. Darcy versus the Aliens by Pinnock;
cover design of Heart Stone by White.]

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