The book opens just before the double wedding of Elizabeth and Jane Bennet to Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley. As she and Darcy are leaving for their honeymoon, Elizabeth learns they will not be traveling to the Lake District but to Europe. She's excited about seeing new places, so she doesn't complain, but the mood of the novel turns dark as the Darcys travel to Paris, Venice, and the Alps. Darcy has friends in all of these places, some creepier than others.
"She has no taste for your company," he said.Readers follow Elizabeth and Darcy on their travels, and most of the book is about Elizabeth being introduced to Darcy's friends in various locales and Elizabeth wondering why her husband doesn't come to her at night to consummate their marriage.
"No?" said the gentleman. "But I have a taste for her."
Hers, thought Elizabeth. He should have said hers.
"Let her go," said Darcy warningly.
"Why should I?" asked the gentleman.
"Because she is mine," said Darcy.
The gentleman turned his full attention toward Darcy and Elizabeth followed his eyes.
And then she saw something that made her heart thump against her rib cage and her mind collapse as she witnessed something so shocking and so terrifying that the ground came up to meet her as everything went black. (page 210)
Grange does a wonderful job setting the scene. Her description of the cities, the clothes, and the architecture seemed realistic to the time period and made me feel as though I was there with the Darcys.
However, while there were a few action scenes, the pacing was a little slow, mainly because the book is told from Elizabeth's point of view. She doesn't know Darcy's secret, so she's wondering what's wrong with him, whether he actually loves her, and whether it was a mistake for her to marry someone from a higher social class. But we know Darcy's secret from page one, and that's my biggest problem with the book. I think the title Mr. Darcy, Vampyre does a disservice to the book. Grange includes clues about Darcy's secret, with scenes about a bat, garlic necklaces, and villagers crossing themselves, etc., but these are more for Elizabeth's benefit. I would have preferred a different title--one that would have aligned me with Elizabeth in wondering about Darcy's behavior. It all seemed a bit anticlimactic to me.
But that doesn't mean Mr. Darcy, Vampyre isn't a good book. Overall, I enjoyed it and thought it was a fun take on the beloved Austen novel. I liked seeing Darcy and Elizabeth in new settings with new characters. And the supernatural storyline doesn't feel out of place in the world Grange creates. There also were some entertaining scenes with Lady Catherine, which were among my favorites. If you enjoy Pride and Prejudice sequels and aren't an Austen purist, I think it's worth a try.
Mr. Darcy, Vampyre is my first book for the Everything Austen Challenge hosted by Stephanie's Written Word.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of Mr. Darcy, Vampyre from Sourcebooks for review purposes.