Review: Jane Vows Vengeance by Michael Thomas Ford
This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Michael Thomas Ford’s vampire Jane Austen has provided a light alternative to the thankfully short run of literary mash-ups that cluttered bookstore shelves. But sometimes a series can stumble through trying too hard. The final book, Jane Vows Vengeance, is a decent novel, but not quite as good as its predecessors.
(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“In sleepy upstate New York, Jane’s wedding preparations have taken on a bloodsucking intensity. So when Walter suggests they ditch it all and combine their marriage and honeymoon with a house tour of Europe, Jane jumps at the chance to flee Lord Byron and the lingering threat of Charlotte Brontë. But to Jane’s chagrin, more than one secret from her past is about to resurface.
From an Agatha Christie–style murder mystery to a wedding interrupted by the ghosts of the Princes in the Tower to a shocking revelation about Walter’s mother, nothing about this trip is less than pure mayhem. And when a chance encounter puts Jane on the trail of a legendary device reputed to restore a vampire’s human soul, will our beloved heroine finally be able to vow her love and devotion—or will a vampire hunter’s vengeance drive a stake through her eternal life?”
On the one hand, I enjoyed Jane getting out of America and going to Europe, a land with a culture much older than ours. Seeing Jane navigating modern American culture is certainly fun, but there’s a certain rightness to her traveling to a land of such layered history. In fact, I would have liked to have seen more of that history walking hand in hand with the main narrative. The appearance of the Princes in the Tower only made me want to see more.
On the other hand, I feel that much of this plot has been in direct contrast to what’s been established in previous novels. Up until now, Jane’s major struggle was with the fact of her vampiric nature and how it affects her daily life and her relationships. It’s her vampirism that got her to the present day to begin with. But in this book, Jane is tipped off to the possibility that an artifact exists that can give her back her human life and soul. This item has never been mentioned until this book.
If this possibility had been established from the first novel, I think that it would have been more acceptable as a plot twist in this last story; however, it seems to come out of nowhere and dominates the majority of the book. Instead of Jane accepting her own nature and finding ways to get Walter to accept it, her conflict now becomes whether or not she even has to tell him. So much of the previous story has hinged on the meshing of the vampire, the Regency woman, and the modern woman that negating it all now doesn’t sit right with me.
Still, it is hard not to enjoy another romp with these characters. I especially liked the revelations about Walter’s mother, because they add several layers to her character that weren’t there before, but which the author had hinted at in the last book. The group that Walter and Jane travel with adds a bunch of minor characters to the mix, a few of which are quirky enough to stick out from the crowd. The main action still belongs to Jane, as she searches for the lost artifact that can make her human.
This book doesn’t have the strength of the previous two, but it does go a long way towards wrapping up Jane and Walter’s relationship. Jane Vows Vengeance is carried mainly by Jane and her indomitable character. This isn’t the ideal conclusion to her story by any means, but readers who have come this far should still get some enjoyment from the tale. I’d like to see Ford write more in this vein, because my quibbles with this book aside, he has a remarkable facility for creating memorable characters.