Jane Vows Vengeance by Michael Thomas Ford
Genre: Fiction, vampires, humor, do me now Lord Byron!
Rating: 4.67 out of 5 stars
Summary: The final (maybe) novel in the Jane Austen Vampire trilogy opens with Jane preparing for her wedding to long time boyfriend and hunky home restoration expert Walter, under the watchful eye of Vampire Hunter and future Mother-in-law Miriam. When the opportunity to go traveling around Europe with Walter’s preservation society comes up, Jane jumps at the chance to visit her old haunt. Part historical mystery, part Agatha Christie novel, all around vampire fun, Jane Vows Vengeance is the finale you never want to end.
We had a bit of an outbreak of crazies last month on Bibliomantics, from a man who supported racism by claiming characters in Ender’s Game were acting of their own free will, to a girl who couldn’t support my dislike of Anna Karenina and instead arbitrarily attacked my spelling and grammar. Thankfully, the vitriol these comments instilled in me were waylaid when my copy of Jane Vows Vengeance arrived. I last reviewed the second book in the series, Jane Goes Batty (review here) when Bibliomantics first began, and it was the first post an author responded to.
Our good fortune with Michael Thomas Ford continued into this novel, with a blurb from my prior review actually being featured in this first pages of Jane Vows Vengeance! Generally I don’t read the opening quotes praising prior books in the series because hey, I already know they’re good- that’s why I keep reading them! For some reason though I took a gander, and the last quote, shockingly enough was credited to Bibliomantics (insert crazy excited face here). Too bad they used the quote where I made a pun, but at least they kept out the “See what I did there?” comment after. Regardless, we’re all still excited to see our name in print.
Okay, enough bragging… Onto the review. With the first book’s focus on Jane’s novel within the novel Constance, and the second book based around Constance becoming a movie, Jane Vows Vengeance takes a decidedly different turn. This time around, the focus is not on Jane’s career, but on her personal life, both with fiance Walter and her existence as a vampire. Due to a pact with Walter’s mother Miriam, Jane has promised to tell Walter she is a vampire AND conceive a child with him within the year. Hopefully they won’t name it Renesmee.
Jane is the same sharp, witty character she was in the prior novels, complete with some awesome vampire powers and a hatred for Charlotte Brontë, who she refers to only as Our Gloomy Friend, lest saying her name makes her appear a la Beetlejuice. Besides being able to communicate with animals (to do such things as fetch them sausage mcmuffins), we learn that Jane can also talk to ghosts and demons, thanks to vampires having an innate second sight. Unfortunately, much like speaking to animals it also makes her look batshit crazy. No pun intended.
While on their whirlwind tour of Europe, which is part wedding part honeymoon part architectural boner, Jane, fiance Walter, MIL Miriam, Lilith the dog, best friend Lucy, and Ben the sexy rabbi (when do you ever hear those words in the same sentence) visit England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, France, Italy, and Switzerland. They travel around with a ridiculous cast of characters with names like Chumsley Faber-Titting, Genevieve Prideaux, Orsino Castano, and Suzu (not Suzuki as auto-correct suggests). Not one to have an uneventful life, Jane is blamed for the mysterious death of a member of the party, and this novel takes a plot straight out of an Agatha Christie novel. Sadly, a plot not featuring Hercule Poirot.
We are given a larger glimpse into the world of vampires and other creatures, which Jane seems completely unaware of. In order to obtain a fake passport, Lord Byron (yes, that Lord Byron) takes her to see Solomon Grundy (yes, that Solomon Grundy). “Solomon Grundy, / Born on a Monday, / Christened on Tuesday, / Married on Wednesday, / Took ill on Thursday, / Grew worse on Friday, / Died on Saturday, / Buried on Sunday. / That was the end, / Of Solomon Grundy.” Just as in children’s rhyme named after him, Grundy’s life is cyclical, securing him a long life as a perpetual zombie. His wife Alice, is also from a well known rhyme, about a little girl with a little curl in the middle of her forehead. She runs a boarding house for vampire fledglings to help them adjust to their vampirism without helping open up Hellmouths or other stuff newborn vampires do.
The main plot of the novel, resolves around a little bit of vampire mythology, specifically the legend of an iron stake called Crispin’s Needle, which can turn a vampire mortal. Attaining information about the needle leads Jane on a search straight out of The Da Vinci Code as she follows the trail of the Three Librarians (AKA the Tedious Three), who research and record vampire history. Jane even comes across evidence leading to a possible vampire martyr named St. Apollonia, who comes complete with stained glass windows that hint at the elusive needle. Thankfully neither Lucy nor Jane have awful Tom Hanks mullets as they search for clues.
With the murder mystery surrounding the preservationists, the search for Crispin’s Needle, Jane’s promise to tell Walter her secret, and the wedding that might never be, there are a lot of plots and subplots occurring in this novel, more than ever before. Perhaps because of all these plots, the ending is a tad silly, not to mention ambiguous. It’s a well-rounded ending, but it does read like a cheesy sitcom, particularly the epilogue. Regardless, if Ford were to go ahead and write a fourth book in the trilogy (and who doesn’t have 4 book trilogies these days), I would be the first in line to read it. With fangs on. (See what I did there? AGAIN.)
-Brings in more information about vampire lore and mythology
-Solomon Grundy and wife add fun, fantasy feel to series
-Interesting premise of murder mystery meets historical mystery meets vampires
-Gorgeous cover, on par or better than first one
-Title not as punchy/as fun as others (needs more puns)
-NOT ENOUGH LORD BYRON! Seriously, I went through Byron withdrawal
If you love novels that feature a vampire Lord Byron as much as me I also highly recommend: Michael Thomas Ford’s prior two novels Jane Bites Back and Jane Goes Batty, Matt Haig’s The Radleys, and the young adult novel Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins. WARNING: Byron doesn’t appear in The Radleys but he’s mentioned a few times, which is enough for my Byron vampire fix.