Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Audiobook Review: Pemberley: Mr. Darcy's Dragon by Maria Grace

Elizabeth's stomach churned. To be so ambushed, first thing in the day.

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
Self-published, 2019
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).


  1. I have yet to read this one. Sounds like a good adventure kind of read.

    1. It's such fun -- tell me what you think of it when/if you get around to reading it!

  2. Sorry, I'm not into dragons, and with Austen characters... no, not one for me at ALL. But you know... you do you!

  3. Thanks for your review! I'm excited to be doing the next phase of this series with Maria too - Persuasion! Book 1 should be out in audio sometime this summer. :)

  4. This sounds like an interesting genre mash up, thanks for sharing your thoughts

  5. Hallo, Hallo Audra,

    I spied your name on two of the audiobook tours I'm hosting this month and was thrilled to peaches we'd be tour hosts together!! I loved reading your insights into the after canon sequencing of how P&P carry over into Pemberley but also how it is diverted brilliantly by Ms Grace! I had a lot to share and say about those same kinds of observations myself and equally to credit Fife with how he performed his narrations. Although I felt like I had a small deficit in understanding the structure of the world and the hierarchy of the dragons until I found the Index / Appendix on the author's blog. Its lovely to see us on the same tours again!