Janet Mullany’s Jane Austen: Blood Persuasion is a fun combination of historical fiction and paranormal romance. It’s a well-conceived adaption of the life of the legendary author, Jane Austen, and the life she might have led if vampires were real. Blood Persuasion is a continuation of Jane’s story which began in Jane and the Damned, so Jane and other characters make many references to events that took place in Bath during the first book. The existence of “the Damned” (vampires) is not shocking to the English of Jane’s day, but because of their religious views, they consider vampires to be loathsome and literally Damned. Jane is living at home with her mother, sister and good friend Martha and has been asked to look after her 17-year-old niece Anna. Anna has behaved inappropriately recently and is being left with the Austens as a sort of punishment. Into this tranquil, somewhat boring, domestic setting come the Damned and the end to the peaceful life that Jane had hoped for.
Fans of Jane Austen’s work will like that the dialogue and activities of Mullany’s characters (e.g., attending dinners and balls, writing letters of introduction, playing the piano, worrying about gowns and bonnets) are reminiscent of what you’d expect from an Austen novel, but the common fantasy consumer may find the constant hand-wringing and anxiety over mundane matters a little difficult to tolerate. Austen fans may also be more willing to pardon Jane’s often ridiculously predictable behavior. In any situation where the truth would simplify things, Jane hides the truth and only makes the situation worse in the end.
Fantasy readers will enjoy Jane’s on-going battle to preserve her humanity throughout her experiences, relationships, and ultimate decision to renounce her status as one of the Damned. Jane has already led an adventurous life for a Georgian era English spinster (detailed in Jane and the Damned), but in Blood Persuasion she is fighting, literally, for her life and soul while trying to defend her family and neighborhood from the encompassing influence of the Damned. The conflict she feels between old loyalties to members of the Damned she knew and loved, and to her Christian desires to keep her soul and protect her family, is truly her crucible of conscience.
Mullany does not spend a great deal of time on the origin or scientific explanation of becoming one of the Damned in this book. I would have liked to know more of the why and how of their existence and the scope and scale of their powers. (Perhaps this was explained in Jane and the Damned.) Despite that, the story is interesting and I appreciate that Mullany didn’t feel the need to go into great detail on the more sordid aspects of the Damned and their sexual/bloodletting intercourse with mortals.
I credit Janet Mullany for being able to write well enough to keep my attention even though I am normally very annoyed by paranormal romance. I don’t feel compelled to read more of this sort of book since it’s not my favorite genre, but I did enjoy Jane Austen: Blood Persuasion.