Saturday, July 31, 2010

Emma and the Vampires by Jane Austen and Wayne Josephson

Book Details
Emma and the Vampires by Jane Austen and Wayne Josephson
Paperback, 304 Pages
2010, Sourcebooks Landmark
ISBN: 1402241348
Series: Book 1 of Jane Austen Undead

What better place than pale England to hide a secret society of gentlemen vampires?

In this hilarious retelling of Jane Austen's Emma, screenwriter Wayne Josephson casts Mr. Knightley as one of the most handsome and noble of the gentlemen village vampires. Blithely unaware of their presence, Emma, who imagines she has a special gift for matchmaking, attempts to arrange the affairs of her social circle with delightfully disastrous results. But when her dear friend Harriet Smith declares her love for Mr. Knightley, Emma realizes she's the one who wants to stay up all night with him. Fortunately, Mr. Knightley has been hiding a secret deep within his unbeating heart-his (literal) undying love for her... A brilliant mash-up of Jane Austen and the undead.

I am a fan of the recent trend of paranormal/classic mash-ups and Emma is my favorite novel by Jane Austen. Being that I've enjoyed every recreation of Emma that I've ever read or seen (including the movie Clueless), I had high hopes for Emma and the Vampires. Unfortunately, this retelling didn't come close to my expectations.

The thing about Emma is she believes herself to be a bit more observant than she actually is. That transfers into this version perfectly. The problem is that while Emma may completely miss obvious things, the other townswomen aren't as blind to the things going on around them. In Emma and the Vampires, almost all of the gentlemen are vampires, yet not one of the women has the slightest inclination. Everyone is aware that vampires are real. They know the tell-tale traits a vampire possesses, yet when seeing that the men don't go out in sunlight, don't eat solid food, are pale with either black or red eyes, the women don't even wonder about the men who these things describe perfectly. The women even go so far as to mention the gentlemen's fangs and still they haven't a clue. It went well beyond the fun Austen was poking. It seemed as though the point of the story was that all women were stupid, unobservant twits.

Emma and the Vampires had some good points that shouldn't be overlooked. First off, it's Emma, so that automatically brings something good to the table. There is a unofficial brigade of vampire fighters that forms in response to the rogue vampires lurking about which leads to some interesting fight scenes. And of course, by reading this book, people may be more willing to give the original version of Emma a try and and anything that gets readers excited about the classics is definitely worthwhile.

Emma and the Vampires made Jane Austen's Emma different, but not exactly better. A truly great mash-up should enhance the original book, infusing it with an extra angle that might even give the original a deeper meaning or message. Emma and the Vampires isn't anything more than Emma with, well, some vampires.


Wayne Josephson's website


  1. I'm reading this now and am having trouble with it, but like you said anything to make people read the original classic is a good thing!

  2. I've been pretty disappointed with all the books, and I was hoping this one would be a good one. Sad to see you didn't enjoy it much, but I might still give it a try.

  3. I've never read the original Emma, and I've never attempted a retelling before. This book would be a totally new experience for me! Too bad it wasn't a bit better, though. Great review all the same!

  4. @A Buckeye Girl Reads - That's why I gave it a 3 instead of a 2. I may not have really enjoyed it, but it could very likely be something that gets people excited for the classics.

    @miss cindy - I have a particular affection for Emma and I think the book actually took away some of what Jane Austen was trying to say. Other's who don't hugely love the original may find this one much better. These mash-ups are high subjective.

    @Emidy - Thanks!