In this fan follow up to Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy, Vampyre beings with the marriage of Elizabeth and Darcy. The happy occasion is only momentarily sullied by Darcy’s silence and reserve, as well as a moment where Elizabeth reads a particular expression of distress on his face. The two of them embark together on their wedding tour throughout Europe, and the good spirit in Elizabeth’s heart is slowly cast into shadow the more aloof Darcy becomes. Rather, though he is affectionate, there seems a wall that Elizabeth cannot penetrate and she begins to question his love for her. Despite being married, Darcy is refraining from physical affections and Elizabeth wonders if she is the cause, and if Darcy regrets their union since many in his family are not too pleased with their marriage.
Strange things begin to happen as the newlyweds travel and visit various cities on their tour. Bats are found flying around the windows, ethereal and beautiful friends of Darcy recall memories of times long past, reflections in mirrors are not cast, and there seems a strange pull to Darcy that is hypnotic and unnatural. While in the castle of a distant uncle of Darcy’s, a Count, an omen is cast that says Elizabeth will cause the death of Darcy. Also, they are driven from the castle by an attack of villagers brandishing weapons and torches, very Frankenstein. During the attack, Elizabeth glimpses something strange about Darcy that she readily brushes off. But the strangeness does not end there. In the palazzo of a Prince, Elizabeth find a book full of illustrations that leave her with a sense of déjà vu and a vision of a fire that she couldn’t possibly remember. During this visit, she again glimpses something in Darcy that causes her to faint and promptly forget. About this time, tired of Darcy’s lack of affection, Elizabeth decides to leave for home. Everything that has happened is all very strange and upsetting to Elizabeth who soon learns that she is the target of something more sinister than her ill-feelings could have predicted.
In some ways, Mr. Darcy, Vampyre is reminiscent of those stunning and dark gothic fiction novels in the style of Shelley and Poe. There are a lot of shadowy undertones and a subtle, sublime feeling of dread that is sliced up by lighter, more romantic moments. In this way, you are taken on the same rollercoaster of light and dark as Elizabeth, feeling the darkness as keenly as she does, and delighting in the happier moments. Grange is very good with how she writes scenes and descriptions so that they flow beautifully and can be easily imagined with vivid detail.
Yet I was ultimately disappointed by the book. The bulk of the book was spent on travels and meeting and talking to new people, and as such it was very slow and with minimal excitement. The true nature of Darcy wasn’t even revealed until the nearly the end of the book, and his vampire self was only hinted to slightly. There was very little vampyre in Mr. Darcy, Vamypre. I had expected a lot more out of the book and had thought Elizabeth would interact more with Darcy as a vampire instead of hearing his secret and promptly having a miraculous way arise to rid him of his ‘curse.’ I was even more let down by the very convenient and easy way by which Darcy was cured of his vampiric affliction. It was just so… sentimental and silly. I had at least hoped that the ending would be climactic and thrilling since it drug on so long to the big reveal only to be disappointed. Fortunately for Austen fans, the book is quite good in its characterizations of both Elizabeth and Darcy.
In short: was it a good book? Yes, it was. I enjoyed reading it very much, I just think it to be a bit overrated as far as vampire books go and the ending was very quick, too easy, and anti-climactic.