Monday, March 14, 2011

Fantasy - Jane Goes Batty by Michael Thomas Ford

What would Jane Austen be like if she had never died, instead living on - as a vampire - into modern times? In Ford's sequel to Jane Bites Back, she is now Jane Fairfax, the owner of a small-town bookstore in upstate New York. Her best friends, Lord Byron (also a vampire) and Lucy (a normal human being but an extraordinary friend), live nearby, as does Jane's boyfriend, Walter. Life is going great for Jane. Her newest novel, the first in almost 200 years, is a best-seller, soon to be made into a movie. Charlotte Bronte, fellow vampire and (im)mortal enemy, is gone for good (see previous book for explanation). But then life gets a twist. Several of them, in fact. Jane's new agent is a *insert bad word of choice* who's hounding her for her next novel, the film of her latest book isn't going as planned, Our Gloomy Friend (as Charlotte B. is referred to) may be back, and, scariest of all, Walter's mother is coming to visit and expects Jane to be Jewish.

My Likes: Ford has a pretty good writing style and seems to know what he's talking about with all the little details he so smoothly incorporates into the story (croquet, Jewish folklore, what goes into publishing and films, to name a few). Ford's take on Byron is quite interesting, as are all of the connections that pop up between various seemingly unrelated literary figures of the late 18th/early and mid-19th centuries. Jane Goes Batty doesn't have a dull moment, and the characters are enjoyable to read about. Another thing: in Ford's books, vampires can drink enough blood to satisfy themselves but not they do not, in the long run, have to affect their victims. It's kind of hard to imagine Jane Austen as a murderer, so I find it rather nice that she doesn't actually kill the people whose blood she has to drink.

My Dislikes: It seemed like the author was cramming too many events into the book. Jane's being battered with her long-overdue second novel, her irritating editor, too-enthused romance fanatics and their tour guide, the filming of her latest novel, new vampires, old vampire enemies, vampire hunters, a relationship that's possibly going farther than she's read for, her boyfriend's mother, a romance novel fair, croquet championships, finding food (blood) at the appropriate time...

My Evaluation: Jane Goes Batty is a fun book to read, but in a few months chances are I won't be able to remember much about it; it's all fun and little memorable substance. Still, if I run across the other books in the series, I'll probably pick them up.

My finished copy of Jane Goes Batty was received through LibraryThing's Member Giveaways program. Published by Ballantine Books, it went on sale in February, 2011.

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