Mansfield Park and Mummies
by Vera Nazarian
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Mansfield Park and Mummies / 978-1-60-762047-1
I loved "Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters" and "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies", and I really wanted to love "Mansfield Park and Mummies", but I felt that this book was such a rushed and sloppy attempt to cash-in on the current "Austen and monsters" trend that I really cannot recommend it to anyone.
"Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" and "Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters" were both wonderfully good laughs largely because they perfectly imitated the ebb and flow of Austen's writing style, and because they took the basic format of the source novels, and then reworked the text into a whole new narrative - completely new material, but with a completely authentic Austen feel. "Mansfield Park and Mummies", however, completely fails to imitate Austen's style - the parts where Author Nazarian's writing takes over occur with an almost audible 'clunk'. Furthermore, the source text doesn't feel rewritten into a whole new story - it feels like "Mansfield Park" but with random references to mummies and werewolves shoe-horned forcibly in. When you strip that subtlety away, you've lost a large part of the "Austen and monsters" humor.
Frustratingly, the lack of subtlety doesn't end there. The "scholarly notes" that sprinkle the book from page to page strain so hard at being funny, they might as well have been written in flashing neon pink. The "note" for "her bitter answer to her sisters put an end to all intercourse (1) between them" is a bald-faced "Ahem!". Ha, ha, it's a *sex* joke! Get it? 'Cause 'intercourse' means a little something different now than it did then? Moving on: the footnote for "adze" is, "An ancient metal thing. Seriously, thou needst google it." I don't even know what to say about this - why is a note in an Austen novel written in Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe? It feels like some poor, beleaguered editor rushed through this novel in one evening, adding 'funny' footnotes in order to get the book out to press the next morning.
Beyond all the juvenile let's-snicker-because-Ms.-Austen-said-'intercourse' folderol, this novel fails because too much was attempted here. The backdrop is "mummies", but that doesn't stop Nazarian from insistently shoe-horning in werewolves, because the two themes work so well together, after all. Perhaps the editors thought that the previous two books had zombies AND sea monsters in the same novel and wanted to present an equally bizarre juxtaposition, who knows.
Overall, this feels like a rushed product, hurried out to milk as much as possible out of the PPZ/SSSM fad, in the hopes that good writing, careful world building, and actual humor were optional. I'm only sorry I paid full price for it.
~ Ana Mardoll
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