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Jane Slayre by Sherri Browning Erwin
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Jane Slayre (2010)

by Sherri Browning Erwin, Charlotte Bronte

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Remember back in 2009/2010 when mashups between classic novels and classic monsters was the biggest trend in publishing? Kicked off by Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the genre flourished for about a year and then faded away as suddenly as it had appeared. It is now quite easy to find these books inexpensively as copies pass from personal bookshelves to library sales and used book stock. I thought I’d revisit one of these titles on a hot summer day when I just want to read something silly and fun. I think that Jane Slayre will suit quite nicely!

After being orphaned, Jane is raised by vampyre relatives. Her aunt cruelly insists that her human niece observe the same hours as the family, forcing Jane to forsake the daylight and eat nearly raw meat at mealtime. One evening, while being punished for fighting with her cousin, Jane is confronted by the ghost of her uncle, who instructs her become a slayer of monsters as her parents were before her. Sent to a boarding school where ailing students are transformed into zombies (compliant and perfect for a future in domestic service!), Jane finds a sympathetic teacher who begins her instruction in the way of slaying. Upon graduating, Jane finds a position as a governess. Upon meeting the master of the house, the brooding Mr. Rochester, Jane begins to fall in love – but she can’t shake the feeling that there’s a great secret being kept from her, something that threatens her safety and happiness…

Bronte’s original novel has plenty of supernatural overtones, with ghosts, an old house dripping atmosphere, and communication through dreams. Expanding that world into one in which vampyres, zombies, and werewolves coexist works surprisingly well. While some might find the novel a bit crowded for including all these different creatures, it makes sense to me – if you’re going to create a world in which one sort of paranormal being can exist, why not more? After all, Buffy the Vampire Slayer fought just about every sort of demon literature has seen fit to create! The twists on the original plot are fitting: the Reeds are vampyres, explaining one reason for why Jane is never embraced by them. Her boarding school specializes in creating zombies from its students. No wonder the institution treats the children so poorly – the administrator Mr. Bokorhurst wants them to die! Mr. Rochester’s secret wife, kept hidden in the attic, is eventually revealed to be a werewolf. His strange decision to hide her existence from Jane suddenly makes a little more sense than it did in the original story. The origins of each creature are distinct: vampirism seems common in Europe and in India (whether it’s a result of colonialism or common throughout Asia is never explored) while werewolves originate in the far-off tropical islands where Mrs. Rochester was raised. Zombies can only be created by a bokor/witch doctor, and are thus introduced into England only when Mr. Bokorhurst begins creating them through his “charitable” institutions. I can’t remember if this variation of zombie can spread through bites, because I can’t recall a case of anyone surviving an attack. No matter. The point is, within the context of the story all these different monsters make sense.

Jane Eyre’s character is consistent with how I remember her, but it’s been several years since I last read the novel so I may not have noticed the subtle changes. It’s a ridiculous parody of the original novel that brings many laughs while still celebrating the language and the characters that make Jane Eyre so beloved today. ( )
  makaiju | Jul 5, 2015 |
I have this teeny weeny soft spot in my heart for mash-up fiction. Vampires, zombies, werewolves, sea monsters...okay, not so much sea monsters. Although if someone were to mash up Jane Austen and Jaws, I'd probably be there. But because this soft spot is so small, there's not much room for challenging what I like.

If you write a book with any one of these aforementioned beings in the title, I kind of expect it to heavily feature that, and that alone. No one wants to read a book called Gatsby: Werewolf Hunter (I made that up) and have it be partially about zombies. It just doesn't fit. Universes should not cross unless explicitly stated.

So here's where it gets tricky: Jane Slayre. Now...I think "slayer...or slayre" and generally think vampires. Unless it's Buffy. Also, the bloodied heroine on the cover (an edited image of Charlotte Brontë) is holding a stake. And on the cover, right below the title, it says "the literary classic with a blood-sucking twist." Vampires, right?

There are! There are vampires! Aunt Reed and her progeny are all children of the night. The book starts off right. Until it veers into the very wrong. If you've never read the source material, it's a pretty big book and it's pretty dense. This means two things: 1) there's not a whole lot of room to play. If you're going to retain most of the source material AND add supernatural elements, you've gotta integrate it very well and keep any additions slim, and 2) you have to make it move; no one wants to read a 400-page mash up of Jane Eyre with dead spaces (haha). Unfortunately, co-author Sherri Browning Erwin took the latter fact to mean that she had to pack it as full as possible with supernatural beings.

So along with vampires, you've got zombies and werewolves. Let me say that again: vampires and zombies and werewolves (oh my). This makes the poor book just fall apart. If she'd stuck with one lore to kind of tie the whole thing together (one ring to rule them all, if you will) it could have worked. But you've got Jane training herself to kill vampires (with the aid of her slayer/Slayre blood of course!), a school teacher training her to kill zombies (which becomes necessary because, along with Brocklehurst - Bokorhurst, here - being a religious zealot/ asshole, he's also apparently a witch doctor who makes zombies), and then some nonsense about her slayer/Slayre uncle also happening to know shit about werewolves.

It's just...it's a lot. It's a whole lot. And we've got enough going on. I mean...Jane Eyre is already a gothic novel. There is already a sort-of-ghost, and a crazy wife in the attic who burns shit down. Not to mention all the horrible human beings who already play a part in the original. And it's so Emo, it doesn't need any help. Yet here we are. Trying to make things more interesting. It doesn't need it! All this additional stuff does is make Jane more of a bad-ass (which doesn't fit, because she remains emotionally immature) and make Rochester more of a wimp (which he's not!).

This is not me being elitist. I mean, I can be, but this is not that. Mash-up fiction is supposed to be fun. This is not fun. This isn't as bad as Amanda Grange's Mr. Darcy, Vampyr, but it's still not fun. Good mash-up should still retain the potent qualities of the original. For example, in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Elizabeth is pretty bad-ass because of her zombie-killing training in China. But Elizabeth was already pretty bad-ass and put Darcy in his place more than once. It works! This doesn't. This is just messy in all kinds of ways. No more, please. ( )
  laurscartelli | Jul 19, 2014 |
After reading [b:Pride and Prejudice and Zombies|5899779|Pride and Prejudice and Zombies|Seth Grahame-Smith|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1255569929s/5899779.jpg|6072122], I know I swore off of these classics/paranormal mashups...but [b:Jane Eyre|10210|Jane Eyre|Charlotte Brontë|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1266450134s/10210.jpg|2977639] is my all-time fave, so I give in. I'm not sure why I want to see my favorite work of literature (possibly) destroyed, but I do.

**

Ok, just finished it. I liked it more than P&P&Z, I'll say that much. The vampyre thing actually worked pretty well with the Reeds, and Bertha as a werewolf wasn't bad either. Overall, the gothic tone of the original novel lent itself to the trend much more than P&P did. However, a lot of things jarred me out of the story continually - things like the "stake-o-matic" that she and St. John invent. I think subtle would have been better, and there were a lot of times when it was anything but. ( )
  ashleyk44 | Jul 8, 2014 |
This mash up between Jane Eyre and a vampire hunter novel type thing is actually pretty fun. Not fun enough to hold my attention for long periods of time -- or is that my familiarity with the original material? -- but quite fun, nonetheless. There are a few outright departures from the original text, which is kind of a relief, because it avoids shoehorning too much into it where it doesn't fit. ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
This is the third of the recent group of classic romance/horror humor mash-ups I've read and it is the very best of them. It succeeds in being a fun, light read because it avoided the traps of the almost-good "Pride & Prejudice & Zombies" and the waste of paper and time that was "Sense & Sensibility & Sea-monsters". No cheap jokes, no junior high sex puns, no glaring and stupid mistakes in the additions, no missed opportunities, and no pointless, tedious grafting onto the original story. The humor is dry, understated, and dovetailed nicely with the original voice of the main character.

That Ms. Erwin not only has read Jane Eyre, but understood and appreciated it, was apparent in her handling of the original material. (I think part of that understanding and intelligence is indicated by the proper spelling of her first name). She maintained qualities of the original characters and, while indicating the humor of the new situations in which she placed them, she never ridiculed or insulted them (I particularly liked her transformation of Mr. Brocklehurst -- it was everything I could desire). I didn't have a single eye rolling moment and my curiosity about how the story would develop and end remained high until the last few pages answered all.

I've read Jane Eyre several times since my first foray in 6th grade. When I first read about this book, I speculated that the Brontes might be better suited for such a mash-up. Their writings are much more emotional, excessive, and interwoven with Byronic Romanticism and Gothic motifs. These made room for adding in the changes without overstretching credulity (not the case with the two Austen mash-ups, which required much subtler humor and, being tighter and less prone to emotional broad strokes, had less room for what was sledged into them.)

Quite a good, fun, light summer read. ( )
  Murphy-Jacobs | Mar 30, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Erwin, Sherri Browningprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bronte, Charlottemain authorall editionsconfirmed
Landor, RosalynNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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In memory of Kathleen Givens - a generous, witty, and most wonderful friend, gone far too soon. I love you, man. Always.
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There was no possibility of continuing my walk that night.
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Book description
A timeless tale of love, devotion...and the undead.
Jane Slayre, our plucky demon-slaying heroine, a courageous orphan who spurns the detestable vampyre kin who raised her, sets out on the advice of her ghostly uncle to hone her skills as the fearless slayer she's meant to be. When she takes a job as a governess at a country estate, she falls head-over-heels for her new master, Mr. Rochester, only to discover he's hiding a violent werewolf in the attic - in the form of his first wife. Can a menagerie of bloodthirsty, flesh-eating, savage creatures-of-the-night keep a swashbuckling, nineteenth-century lady from the gentleman she intends to marry? Vampyres, zombies, and werewolves transform Charlotte Bronte's unforgettable masterpiece into an eerie paranormal adventure that will delight and terrify.
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This clever and funny literary mash-up rewrites Charlotte Bront?e's "Jane Eyre" so that Jane is a vampire slayer and Rochester's wife is a werewolf. After learning of her parents' history as slayers, Jane must follow her true calling while trying to remain true to her heart.… (more)

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