Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Life was a lot easier for Jane when she was just an unknown, undead bookstore owner in a sleepy hamlet in upstate New York. But now the world embraces her as Jane Fairfax, author of the bestselling novel Constance—and she’s having a killer time trying to keep her true identity as the Jane Austen a secret. Even the ongoing lessons in How to Be a Vampire, taught by her former lover Lord Byron, don’t seem to be helping much. Jane can barely focus on her boyfriend, Walter, while keeping him in the dark about her more sanguine tastes.
To make matters worse, Walter announces that his mother is coming for a visit—and she’s expecting Jane to be Jewish. Add in a demanding new editor, a convention of romance readers in period costume, a Hollywood camera crew following Jane’s every move, and the constant threat of a certain bloodsucking Brontë sister coming back to finish her off, and it’s enough to make even the most well-mannered heroine go batty! -- Ballantine
While it's not my usual reading fare, I have to admit that I was excited to see JANE GOES BATTY by Michael Thomas Ford appear in my mailbox. I'm not a big one for vampire stories or even mash-ups for that matter, but I did enjoy the first book in the series JANE BITES BACK (my review.) I was pleasantly surprised that this Jane Austen spin-off worked at all -- nevertheless so well! You see, the premise for this series is pretty darn unique. Jane Austen is alive and well in modern day New York (of course, very few people know she's really Jane Austen.) She owns a bookshop and has recently published a successful novel after years (and years) of rejections. And oh yeah -- she just happens to be a vampire too!
This series is just a hoot! In fact, I'm surprised by how much fun I had reading the books. The stories are light and fluffy and fast-paced too -- I consider them almost a guilty pleasure. I think one of the reasons that I enjoy these books so much, though, is the humor. I love Jane and her internal conflict with being a vampire, but I also think her bruised ego because of the constant rejections of her writing is too funny. In addition, her friend and former lover Lord Byron is larger-than-life -- he really is a scene stealer. And then there's all of the pop culture references -- both from Jane's times as well as present day. I so appreciate the author's tongue-in-cheek humor. It's smart and witty and oh so silly!
JANE GOES BATTY takes place right where JANE BITES BACK ends. Jane has had some success with her latest novel and now the book is being made into a movie. The producers want to film in her home town, and Jane isn't really comfortable with being in the spotlight (for obvious reasons.) In addition, she has a new (and very demanding) editor who wants her next book -- yesterday. As if Jane doesn't have enough stress managing her new career and her vampire "needs" (as well as some unresolved issues from JANE BITES BACK that deal with a dead Bronte sister), her boyfriend Walter's mother is coming to town. Walter's mother only wants the best for Walter, and she's pretty sure that Jane isn't the right woman for her son.
JANE GOES BATTY can be read (and probably appreciated) as a stand alone book, but why would you want it to? I think the author does a pretty good job of giving the background story, but I'm almost certain that the books would be more enjoyable if read in order. There are some major plot lines in JANE GOES BATTY which tie-in to the previous novel, and I do think some of the humor might be missed without a good understanding of the characters and their prior actions.
I would love to spill the beans on a few of the surprises in this novel because there are some terrific twists and turns; however, I won't spoil it for future readers. Trust me on this one though, the twist about Walter's mother gives new meaning to the term "meddling mother-in-law." Not only did JANE GOES BATTY have a great premise and very interesting characters, but there was also a murder mystery to solve. I actually thought the mystery angle was pretty good and it kept me guessing until the very end.
JANE GOES BATTY really does have a little something for everyone. I think fans of Jane Austen as well as readers who enjoy mysteries and witty writing will enjoy this novel as much as I did. Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of this very fun novel.
And just because I can't help myself, I'm going to do a little shameless self-promotion. When I sat down a few days ago to read JANE GOES BATTY, I discovered that I had a blurb in the front of the book. You could have knocked me over with a feather. I had absolutely no idea that they used some of the text from my JANE BITES BACK review. Needless to say, I was excited beyond belief!