By Charlotte Bronte and Sherri Browning Erwin
Publication date: April 13, 2010
My rating: ****1/2
Orphaned as an infant, Jane Slayre has been brought up by her unkind vampyric Aunt Reed at Gateshead alongside her spoiled bloodthirsty cousins John, Eliza, and Georgiana. When Jane is ten she is sent away to Lowood, a charitable boarding school. It is at Lowood that Jane's fortunes begin to change. She befriends Helen Burns, another student, and makes the acquaintance of Miss Temple, a kind teacher. After receiving her education at Lowood and taking care of the zombie problem at the school, Jane accepts a position as governess at Thornfield Hall. Jane enjoys spending time with Adele, the young girl she is responsible for and she finds herself falling for her mysterious employer, Mr. Rochester. But all is not at it seems at Thornfield-there are secrets and perhaps monsters that stand in the way of their love. Jane Slayre is a creative retelling of Charlotte Bronte's classic, Jane Eyre.
I love Jane Eyre. It is one of my favorite classics so I approached this book with some reserve, especially since I did not like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and was unable to finish that particular classic mashup. There is a huge difference between Jane Slayre and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies however. It is obvious from the first page that the author has much respect for the original work. The addition of vampyres, werewolves, and zombies is cleverly and rather tastefully done. Most of the book retains the feel of Jane Eyre so I felt like I was rereading the original much of the time. Jane Eyre is a grave book and does not have much humor in it but I found the humor sprinkled throughout Jane Slayre to be refreshing in instances like Jane wondering if perhaps Blanche Ingram is a vampyre. The main characters retain their essence and much of the dialogue is the same so I was able to enjoy the interactions between Jane and Mr. Rochester. In the original, Bertha Mason is merely mad. Here she is also a werewolf, which explains further Mr. Rochester's treatment of her and her strange behavior. I loved that the Reeds were vampyres. I thought they were horrible people in the original so I thought this suited them perfectly.
There were some things that I did not enjoy-particularly the zombies at Lowood and the treatment of Helen Burns. In the original, Helen is a close friend of Jane and very important to her. In Jane Slayre, I didn't feel that Jane was as close to Helen and I didn't like Helen's fate in the novel. Most of the time however, I was able to enjoy the changes to the story but there were a few times that I did want to go pick up Jane Eyre instead. My favorite parts of the novel were at Thornfield Hall and I thought the author did a fantastic job with it, particularly Jane and Rochester's relationship.
Overall I thought this was a tastefully and respectfully written mashup with some great humorous moments mixed in with a good story. I love Jane Eyre but I enjoyed Jane Slayre as well and it made me want to reread the original Bronte novel. There have been a number of mashup novels since the publication of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies but this one would be a cut above the rest. I would recommend this to fans of that new genre as well as to those who enjoy satirical writing. Be sure to check out the reader's guide in the back as well. The discussion questions will have you howling! If the idea of messing with the story of Jane Eyre sounds sacrilegious to you, you may want to skip Jane Slayre but I think it is an excellent retelling which might inspire new fans to seek out the classic.
You can find out more about the book and read an excerpt at Simon & Schuster
More about the authors (from the book):
Charlotte Bronte was an English novelist and the author of the literary classic Jane Eyre. She lived from 1816-1855, and as far as we know, hasn't come back from the dead.
Coauthor Sherri Browning Erwin has established a website where you can go to learn more about her and find out about her other books on vampyres and romance. You'll also find links to her blog and social media pages where you can share with her your encounters with the undead and unnatural.
I received my copy of Jane Slayre from Gallery Books as part of a blog tour in exchange for an honest review.