Saturday, November 09, 2013

Mary Bennet and the Bloomsbury Coven by Beth Deitchman

"The last Bennet daughter remaining at Longbourn, Mary leads a quiet life in Hertfordshire, where gossip about the intriguing new vicar provides the only entertainment. Having developed a taste for novels, Mary lives vicarious adventures through their heroines. But when a mysterious book arrives addressed to her, she embarks on a magical and thrilling adventure of her own. In London she meets Mr. Hartbustle, a charming old bookseller, who invites her to a meeting of the famed Bloomsbury Coven. There she learns about their dreadful enemy, known only as the Glastonbury Sorcerer, who has stolen a very powerful book of spells. Before long Mary finds herself at the centre of a deadly war between light and dark forces.   Set in Jane Austen's England a year after the events of Pride and Prejudice, Mary Bennet and the Bloomsbury Coven is the first book of the Regency Magic Series, whimsical tales of magic and manners published by Luminous Creatures Press."

Ok. I admit it.  Jane Austen + Harry Potter = a combination I would not usually go for. However, when I was contacted by the lovely Beth Deitchman I thought it would be fun to give this story a shot – although I admit I was a little dubious.  Having said that, Mary Bennet is a character very little explored in the original and so I was looking forward to reading a story developing her character further. And as it turns out, I had no need to be doubtful as I really, really enjoyed it, reading it in one sitting as I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen next!

I very much enjoyed seeing more to the unexplored Mary Bennet – although her character takes a very different and magical turn from the Mary Bennet we know.  It was fun to see a side to Mary who has finally discovered the pleasure in reading novels – the works of Mrs Radcliffe and such – as opposed to only reading books to inform your mind and refine your moral opinions. It is this which accidently lands Mary with a magic book for beginners.

Mary, seeing this as her opportunity to live a more exciting life, decides to read this unexpected book and so begins her journey to sorcery!  I really found it rather amusing seeing magic spells being used in the refined and polite world of regency England, as Mary begins practicing her new found skills causing confusion with moving tea cups, infatuations with old gardeners, rather slippery fans and flying violin bows! It made me laugh as it is such an unusual and funny setting for magic!

The whole story and mystery surrounding the Bloomsbury Coven and the illusive Glastonbury Sorcerer was very intriguing.  Throughout the story, I found it harder and harder to work out who were the good guys and who were the bad guys – my trust in all the different characters kept wavering and I couldn’t make my mind up about who to trust! I had my suspicions some of which were confirmed, but some which were not, but then something else would happen, making you reconsider what you first thought only a few chapters beforehand!

The relationship between Mary the different members of her family was nice to see;  I always thought it is a shame the sisters are so divided in Pride and Prejudice, so it was nice to see a new relationship between Jane, Lizzy and Mary, and even Kitty to some extent.  Also, Mr and Mrs Bennet were fun as well.  All the characters (apart from Mary, obviously) seemed to stay true to their original characters which is always great because I like characters to remain true to themselves in fan fiction. The relationship between Mary and her parents was my favourite; now that all the other sisters have left Longbourn, her parents begin to take more notice of their plainest daughter - especially her father.  I enjoyed Mr Bennet in this story – I always knew Mr Bennet was cleverer and more observant than he cared to let on!  But I shall say no more on this subject.

I am finding this a hard review to write as I do not wish to give anything away – you need to read it for yourself to find out what happens!  Safe to say, there are many new characters to love as well as those to hate, and there is a bit of romance thrown into the mix for all you romantics out there, just like me!  There is an exciting climatic battle to this story (which wasn’t too drawn out and overly long which I was pleased about), and it was great to see all the spells coming together which had cropped up before in the story.  

This was such a well written book, if a little short (but then “if a book is well written, I always find it too short”) and it flows brilliantly and the story never drags.  It was full of excitement with battles, mystery and adventure! Most characters kept true to the characters we know and love, while others take an exciting and very different route.  I enjoyed this story a lot more than I was expecting to as it was Jane Austen meets Harry potter - however, if you enjoy Harry Potter and you enjoy Jane Austen and her Regency England (as I do) I can assure you that the combination of the two very different worlds does work rather well, however strange it may seem! I was unsure about this story, but I can assure you that this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

If you are looking for a story with fast paced adventure with delightful humour, intriguing mystery and an adorable romance thrown in, then this is a highly enjoyable book which I would recommend you read.  I am really looking forward to the next instalment of this Regency magic series!  

Your affectionate friend,
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