Book Reviews

“Pride & Prejudice & Planets” asks a burning question: What if Elizabeth Bennet lived on another planet?

Pride & Prejudice and Planets: An Alternate-Reality Pride & Prejudice Science Fiction Variation by Renata McMann & Summer Hanford

Captain Fitzwilliam Darcy is a talented Captain in the British Intergalactic Force, allied with other intelligent species to defend Earth (and especially Great Britain) against a powerful race known only as The Enemy. The Bennets live on a faraway planet with a small human minority, where Ambassador Charles Bingley travels to normalize strained relations between the aliens and earth. The universe created in this novel is rich and interesting, and while it might not appeal to hard science fiction purists, it is on par with a Star Trek vision of galactic relations.

The storyline parallels the classic Pride & Prejudice storyline closely. There is even an appendix at the back of the book listing the parallels for fans. I enjoy a good Pride & Prejudice retelling in an interesting setting and consumed this book very quickly — once I got past the first chapter, anyway, which lacks the energy of Jane Austen’s original opening. After that, the book had a good deal of action and interesting worldbuilding, and even though it was clear what would ultimately happen, the story was fun, fast-paced, and had enough suspense to stay interesting.

Some new versions of the classic characters were interesting and fun, including Lady Catherine and Anne de Bourgh, William Collins, Charlotte Lucas, the Bennets, Georgiana Darcy, and Richard Fitzwilliam’s character. This book’s Caroline Bingley is especially tragic and entertaining. If you think she’s a handful in Hertfordshire, can you imagine her on another planet?

For anyone who enjoys both sci-fi and Pride & Prejudice retellings, this is a good one.

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“Interwoven” is a JAFF faery fantasy with plenty of magical action and suspense

Interwoven: A Magical Pride and Prejudice Variation (Darcy and Elizabeth Happily Ever Afters) by Melanie Rachel

Jane and Lydia Bennet have been summoned to the magical world of Pemberley, where young mages train to defend the gate between the human and faerie worlds. Elizabeth knows she belongs there, too, and does the impossible — she sneaks in. Against the advice of his cousin, Richard Fitzwilliam, Darcy agrees to be her guide. Soon, Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam find themselves working against the clock to understand Elizabeth’s mysteriously powerful magic.

An unusual treat among Pride & Prejudice adaptations, this book pulls readers into a deep fantasy universe built around the classic characters, but with an engagingly original storyline. It was a riveting read with plenty of mysteries and intrigue involving a large cast including Fitzwilliam Darcy’s parents, Georgiana Darcy, all the Bennets, Richard Fitzwilliam, Catherine de Bourgh, George Wickham, and Charlotte Lucas. The relationship between Elizabeth and Darcy has unique magical components that add a lot of action and more than the usual romantic complications.

I appreciated that the story’s world, a magical version of Regency England, included other cultural influences — complete with delicious Indian food!

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The tables are turned: Bingley recovers at Longbourn with Darcy’s help in “An Accidental Holiday”

An Accidental Holiday: A Pride and Prejudice Novella (The Accidental Love Series) by Melanie Rachel

This this Pride & Prejudice “what if” adaptation, Mr. Bingley is thrown from a horse in Hertfordshire and becomes stranded in the snow the day after the Netherfield Ball. When he is discovered by Jane and Elizabeth Bennet, the safest course is to bring him home to Longbourn, where his family can find him. However, Caroline Bingley’s relentless snobbery and prejudice against the Bennet family prevents the Bingley sisters from providing assistance, and Mr. Darcy alone comes to nurse his friend.

This story did a great job turning the tables on the scenario where Elizabeth nurses Jane at Netherfield Park by bringing Darcy to Longbourn as Bingley’s nurse. Seeing the Bennets up close at home providing kind and capable care to his friend, Darcy’s view of the family softens. Predictably foolish stunts by Caroline Bingley, Mr. Collins, and Lady Catherine, plus some friendly trickery from Charles Bingley, make this an entertaining read.

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Even more terrible cousins visit the Bennets in “Step Lively, Mr. Darcy”

Step Lively, Mr. Darcy: A Lighthearted Darcy and Elizabeth Christmastime Romance by Laura Hile

This funny and relatively action-packed Pride & Prejudice retelling brings the Thorpe family from Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey to Hertfordshire as an augmented cast of cringe-inducing cousins visiting the Bennets. Readers who are unfamiliar with Northanger Abbey will appreciate the addition of these lively, ridiculous characters just as much as those who have read the book.

The unique storyline brings Mr. Bingley back to Hertfordshire for Christmas, determined to enjoy more time with Jane. Mr. Darcy accompanies him against his better judgement, but in the face of finding Elizabeth with a determined and overexuberant suitor, John Thorpe, Darcy’s resolve to avoid Elizabeth weakens considerably. Meanwhile other characters are thrown into the drama, including Isabella Thorpe, Mr. Collins, George Wickham, and others.

Some readers may not be delighted to find the Darcy and Elizabeth characters behave a bit unlike themselves in this fun story, but it had me laughing and wanting more.

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