Audiobook Review: Pemberley: Mr. Darcy's Dragon by Maria Grace
Austen's classic novel of manners, marriage, obligation, misunderstandings, poor judgments and well-founded ones is well-served by Maria Grace's imaginings of how society would respond to a world with dragons. It is not merely a retelling with lizards thrown in but a story with new threads of tension and complications that make Lizzie and Darcy's dislike of each other novel and real -- and something that must be urgently overcome.
Pemberley: Mr. Darcy's Dragon: A Pride and Prejudice Variation (Jane Austen's Dragons, Book 1) by Maria Grace; Narrated by Benjamin Fife
Review copy for Audiobookworm Promotions
Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
Pride and Prejudice isn't my favorite Austen novel which means I seriously love P&P re-tellings and variations. (Ayesha at Last is one of the best bestest, btw, so if you haven't read it, read it now!) I found myself instantly smitten with this version, which I thought captured that unspoken pressure
In this Britain, dragons were discovered in the time of King Arthur: massive ones associated with estates, smaller ones that roam like wildlife, and tiny ones that seem like hummingbirds. Some humans can hear dragons and others can't, so a delicate accord was struck that allowed humans and dragons to live in harmony. But centuries of rules, rituals, that's-just-how-it's-dones means that Lizzie Bennett -- the eldest dragon keeper in her family -- is expected to remain with Longbourn, the estate's cranky dragon, and wed Mr. Collins, the heir.
With that stress weighing on her, as well as her mother's ongoing machinations to marry Jane off to the handsome and sweet Mr Bingley, Lizzie is swept into a dangerous search for a dragon's egg that was stolen from the Pemberley estate. That requires her to work with the rude and standoffish Mr Darcy, and readers who love P&P can imagine what happens next.
Only things don't unfold so predictably, and this is where I think Grace handles the beloved story and new elements so well. The emotional notes of P&P that are so beloved are there, but reached in slightly different ways, and they buoy the new elements introduced by this dragon-centered society.
Audiobook narrator Benjamin Fife does a wonderful job with the story; he manages the various voices well, including numerous female characters, without sounding cartoony or winded. Between his read and Grace's writing, I couldn't stop listening to this read and I will warn readers it ends right in the middle of the action -- this is a trilogy that encompasses the arc of P&P -- so be prepared to eagerly pick up the rest of the series (as I have).