Reviewed by Jennifer J.

Even 200 years after her death, Jane Austen’s works are just as influential and meaningful to readers of today as those who lived during Jane’s lifetime. Anyone who doubts that her novels could possibly mean something to today’s readers needs to look no further than his or her nearest bookstore or novelty shop where items such as Jane Austen action figures, finger puppets, and even paper dolls are sold. Austen’s works are still made into big screen movies and performed as live theatre. Her classics are re-published with an extra spice: zombies, sea monsters, and now vampires.

In Jane Bites Back, Michael Thomas Ford brings Jane back to life as the undead. Living a quiet and unassuming existence as a bookstore proprietor, Jane Austen is thinly veiling her identity as Jane Fairfax. Like any other vampire, Jane must live off of blood to survive. Instead of taking the lives of her “victims”, she only takes what she needs to get by. The abilities and limitations of Ford’s vampires have yet to be fully defined, though it is hinted that future books in this series will further explore Jane discovering just what she is capable of.

Jane wants nothing more than to publish her newest manuscript, but after 116 rejections, she is just about to give up hope. Things begin to look up for Jane when her manuscript is finally accepted for publication. As she is thrust into the media limelight, Jane attracts the negative attention of Bronte enthusiast Violet Grey. Jane’s true identity is at risk when Violet sets out to prove that Jane’s manuscript is plagiarized. And just when she thought life couldn’t be more complicated, a vampire from her past resurfaces to woo her. Will Jane get the credit for the novel she deserves? Can vampires even have a happily ever after to rival one of Jane’s own novels?

No story involving Jane Austen would be complete if it didn’t involve sweet romance. Jane must choose between two enticingly handsome men, one a vampire and one a human. The choice Jane will make is obvious from the start, but I could not help feeling that Jane chose entirely with her head rather than even a little bit with her heart. Since this is the start of a new series, complications in Jane’s love life are certain to rise and [amazonify]0345513657[/amazonify]there is no guarantee that she will end up with either of her current pursuers. Though I’m not a fan of Jane’s current romance, I’m eager to see what challenges Jane must overcome in matters of the heart.

Many of Austen’s literary works now feature all sorts of paranormal creatures, but this was my first encounter with Jane Austen herself as one. In addition to Jane, several other well recognized classical authors make their own appearances as creatures of the night. I felt the inclusion of those characters in the novel dulled the thrill of having Jane cast as one. Overall, though, Jane Bites Back is an entertaining read for those who have an affection for classical authors. Those with a more extensive knowledge of Jane Austen’s life history might find Ford’s vision of Jane just a little out of character.

Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.

This book was provided free of any obligation by Ballantine Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.