Jane and the Damned – Review

I’d heard that someone was writing a book about Jane Austen getting turned into a vampire, but I didn’t think I’d read it until someone got me a signed proof copy of Jane and the Damned.

The reasonably spoiler-free gist of the plot is:

Jane gets turned into a vampire, but the waters at Bath are a cure. While she’s taking the cure, however, the French invade Bath. Jane remains a vampire and becomes a resistance fighter. She must decide whether she’ll stay that way or return to live with her family. Since vampires have no creative powers, her writing is at stake.

I have a bit of a hard time reading books with main characters who are actual historical figures. My brain likes getting things right and if I let it, it’d spend the whole book saying “This didn’t happen, this didn’t happen, gorram it all this didn’t happen!!” Fortunately, I’ve learned to turn off that part of my brain by telling myself it’s an alternate universe (which this book makes really easy, since it is an alternate history there are vampires and the French have managed to invade England rather than remain on the continent).

I liked it very much. I read it all in one day, actually stayed up late to finish it (and wait for a DNS to propagate). It was a fast and engaging read and I felt it flowed well.

The author, Janet Mullany, acknowledges Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer as two inspirations. That may explain why I like it so much since I devoured and reread Heyer’s novels in my teens. I saw several homages to Heyer and the dialogue had some of the same witty flavor that one finds in both Austen and Heyer. This could’ve killed the book if it’d been done awkwardly, but Mullany has absorbed enough of the two and has enough of her own style that it didn’t bother me.

In this alternate ‘verse, vampires are a little different than in most. They can go out in the daytime and they’re quite open about who they are. Garlic doesn’t seem to have much effect. If I find out that the non-bursting-into-flames-in-sunlight vampires are in any way connected to Twilight, I will be very disappointed. They didn’t glitter or anything stupid like that and they preferred the night so they weren’t out often in the daytime. Had they burst into flame in the sun, the plot wouldn’t have worked nearly as well, so it’s ok with me.

To Read or Not to Read?

If you like urban fantasy, alternate history, and/or Jane Austen & Georgette Heyer, then you it’s definitely worth a read.

5 Comments

  1. Jesse says:

    Thank YOU for not reading the book because it is about vampires, and that alone. And thank you even more for this, ” If I find out that the non-bursting-into-flames-in-sunlight vampires are in any way connected to Twilight, I will be very disappointed.”

  2. Ruth says:

    @Jesse Haha, you’re welcome. I like urban fantasy, but I got all the vampires I needed in Buffy and the three or four times I’ve read Dracula. *whispers* Plus three Anne Rice vampire novels…shh…

  3. Amy says:

    It is easy these days to perhaps get vampired out. At one point last fall I was in between Buffy, Twilight (shut it =P), True Blood, and Moonlight.

    I don’t know if I would have given this a second glance because I have the same issues you do with reading fictional things about historical characters, but based on your review, I’m thinking I would really enjoy it. Thanks! 😀

  4. Ruth, thanks so much for the review and I’m glad you liked the book.

  5. Ruth says:

    @Amy I think it really helped that this was an alternate ‘verse. I can’t watch that Jane Austen movie because it’s actually supposed to be her and her life. This is enough of a “what if” that it’s very readable. :)

    @Janet Mullany You’re welcome, it was fun to read, especially when I caught allusions to Heyer’s world.

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