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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Review & GIVEAWAY! Pemberley: Mr Darcy's Dragon by Maria Grace!

I'm no stranger to the more...interesting side of Austen retellings. Zombies, vampires, sea monsters, space ships, genetic engineering, football — if it's been mashed with Austen, I probably either have read it or own it (or both).
But today I'm taking a look at a new one, even for me: Jane Austen & dragons. Click through to read my thoughts on the first book of Maria Grace's
Jane Austens Dragons series, and enter to win a copy for yourself!

Pemberley: Mr. Darcy’s Dragon by Maria Grace
340 pages, Published October 31st 2016 by White Soup Press
England is overrun by dragons of all shapes and sizes. Most people are blissfully unaware of them and the Pendragon Treaty that keeps the
peace between human and dragon kind. Only those born with preternatural hearing, like Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet are able to hear and converse with dragonkind.

When the first firedrake egg laid in a century is stolen from Pemberley, the fragile dragon peace teeters on collapse. Darcy has no choice but to chase down the thief, a journey that leads him to quaint market town of Meryton and fellow Dragon Keeper, Elizabeth Bennet.

Elizabeth shares a unique bond with dragons, stronger than anything Darcy has ever experienced. More than that, her vast experience and knowledge of dragon lore may be the key to uncovering the lost egg. But Elizabeth can’t stand Darcy’s arrogance and doesn’t trust him to care properly for a precious baby firedrake. After all, he already lost the egg once. What’s to prevent it from happening again?

Can he win her trust and recover the stolen egg before it hatches and sends England spiraling back into the Dark Ages of Dragon War?

Jane Austen meets Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern. A must read for Pern fans.

Buy links:
amazon kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MECLQTW
Amazon: Amazon paper https://www.amazon.com/Pemberley-Prejudice-Variations-Austens-Dragons/dp/0998093718/
BN NOOK: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/pemberley-maria-grace/1124998231
B&N PB: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/pemberley-maria-grace/1125041175
KOBO: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-ca/ebook/pemberley-mr-darcy-s-dragon

So, as I said, Austen + Dragons is a new one, even for me. And it is one that I am totally onboard for. Dragons are just very underutilized, this day & age, if you ask me. Though they're certainly making a comeback (thank you, Khalessi). But even though I was all for it, I have to say, I was still surprised by how well this concept worked. Maria Grace makes the introduction of dragons into Regency life seem seamless, and in a very clever turn, actually uses them to explain a lot of the formalities and customs of Regency life. It's by turns clandestine and tense, and playfully silly, and I found myself weirdly invested.

There are certainly pros and cons in attempting to pull off such a concept, though the biggest pro is the way Grace goes for it. It's fun and a bit campy, and she embraces that, but she doesn't let it trip over into parody territory (or even close). Though it would be easy to, she doesn't ever treat the storyline like a joke. Grace committed, and as a result, the story doesn't feel like a throwaway. The additions to the story are interesting, the reinterpretation of the characters as a result is interesting, and all of it taken together adds a fun twist to the typical Pride & Prejudice retelling.

Some of the potential drawbacks, which may bother some readers, are:
1) That it's not a self-contained story. We're used to getting the complete romance, start to finish, in JAFF retellings. If you want to see Darcy and Lizzie all the way through to the I Dos, you're going to be disappointed, and on the hook for more books.  I understand why this is, because it's a big, very different world to build, and that takes time. (And personally—in this case, at least— I don't mind being on the hook for more books.) But not having the full arc of the story -- or at least this central romance -- wrapped up at the end may bother some readers. You don't get to have all of the fluttery, swoony bits you're used to having, at least not at this point in the series.

2) The reliance on dragons as the basis of social structure takes some a lot of the choice & will out of the characters' hands. On the one hand, this worked for me (I mean, I love the idea that all of the ridiculously minute bits of Regency etiquette have a basis in dragons' fastidious culture. I think that's genius, tbh.), but on the other, it robs the story a bit of the tension of the relationship. Darcy & Lizzie don't get to butt heads as freely, or misunderstand each other as much, if they're being told what to do by dragons, and have to listen. It's something you see a lot in romance novels — we didn't want to get married, we had to as a ruse! And then we just fell for each other, golly gee shucks! — so it's not unfamiliar territory to have the decisions effectually made for the characters. It's actually a pretty popular romance trope, and one I often like, precisely because it hits on some of the same elements that Pride & Prejudice does: resolutely not liking someone but being thrown together until suddenly you find you kinda like them and how did that even happen?! And I'm sure, when all is said and done, I'm going to like it here, too. It will be fun seeing Lizzie start to buck tradition and begin asserting herself, no doubt. But as it is now, having the dragons basically dictate Darcy & Lizzie's interactions and acceptance of each other slightly diminishes the relationship for me, because it's forced. I like 'love against their better judgement;' I don't like 'budding relationship that's maybe against their will?' Now, I'm sure the groundwork is going to be laid for them to really fall head over heels for each other, and it will be solid and lovely. But still.

That said, I'm probably analyzing that aspect waaaaaaay too hard, and I don't know that it's something that will even register with most readers. And even though it did register with me, I still thoroughly enjoyed this, and immediately launched into book 2 when I was done. I very much want to know how this story plays out, and what clever ways Grace will incorporate the dragons next. I very much want to know what boneheaded things Darcy's going to say or do, and how Lizzie's gonna put him in his place. And I very much want to see Lizzie come into her own.

I know there are those of you who are instantly turned off by more "out there" adaptations and Austen mashups, but honestly, if that's the case for you, give this one a try. It's not the cheesy joke you might think it's going to be— if there's one thing Maria Grace does well, it's to see both the straight-forward retelling aspects AND the wholly different adaptation aspects of her stories right through to all of their logical ends.
And if you're not put off by the more out there retellings, then what are you waiting for? Definitely pick this one up!

To celebrate the recent release of book 2, Longbourn: Dragon Entail, Maria Grace has offered up an ebook copy of book 1, Pemberley: Mr Darcy's Dragon to one lucky reader, to get you started on the series!
This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL.
Fill out the Rafflecopter to enter.
Must be 13 years or older, void where prohibited, and all that jazz.
DO NOT leave any personal info or email addresses in the comments; those comments will be deleted, and the entries invalidated. (Stay safe online, guys, jeez!)
Giveaway ends September 6th at 11:59 EST.
Good luck!!

And don't forget, there's also a giveaway going on for Grace's A Less Agreeable Man, so make sure to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Click here to return to the Austen in August main page!


  1. Lots of readers I trust adore this one, but I'm a dragon fan so I needed no pushing to get on board. I do like what you say about the blending of historical society with dragon legend in this one and interesting how it leads along the characters.

  2. My favorite Pride and Prejudice and fantasy mashup. I love dragons and the mashing of these is wonderful. Eagerly anticipating book 3.

  3. Great review. I am a big fantasy fan so I look forward to reading this series.

  4. Thanks for the great analysis of Maria's Austen + dragon series. I'm unsure whether it's good so your review dispels my doubts I had in the first place. Will give this book a try.

  5. I keep seeing good reviews, but have been apprehensive to try...even though I love Maria Grace and her writing! Would love to win! I think I'm finally ready to take a look. :)

  6. Drat, missed the giveaway on this one. Still totally adding the title to my want-to-read list, though!

  7. I have read and enjoyed this book, and I'll have to do a reread before I can wrap up the series with book 3. Thanks for the review - I agree about the fantastic worldbuilding and the seamless weaving of dragons into JA Regency world.

  8. I am so wanting to read this series.


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