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John Eyre: A Tale of Darkness and Shadow Kindle Edition
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One of BookBub's "25 of the Best Books Arriving in 2021"
"In this thrilling remix of Charlotte Brontë's work, Matthews skillfully transforms a well-known story into a truly original tale." - Kirkus Reviews
"Bertha Mason Rochester shines, dominating her scenes with vitality and strength. The style, too, is spot-on, reprising the spirit of 19th-century Gothic prose without descending into mimicry." - Publishers Weekly
"Reader, I loved it." - Austenprose
"[Matthews] retells Charlotte Bronte's classic story in a way that will keep fans of the original novel totally gripped from cover to cover... Fresh and dynamic... Fast-paced and spellbinding...a book you will have a hard time putting down." - Readers Favorite
"Matthews' writing style is flawless... A thrilling, spooky ride filled with heart-stopping suspense-I couldn't put it down! Highly recommended!" - Syrie James, USA Today bestselling author of The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë and Dracula, My Love
"[A] captivating and ingenious retelling of Jane Eyre with a supernatural twist. Smart, suspenseful, and deliciously spooky, JOHN EYRE is a must-read; I loved everything about it! - Ashley Weaver, author of the Amory Ames Mysteries and the Electra McDonnell series
"One of the most moving, suspenseful, innovative and remarkable retellings of a classic in the history of, well, ever... Every page is sheer rapture as [Matthews] moulds popular source material into a spell-binding creation so wholly her own." - Rachel McMillan, author of The London Restoration and The Mozart Code
"A wonderful sinister atmosphere, deliciously creepy characters, and a female character who is a powerful force... A true homage to the gothic genre without being derivative... Highly, highly recommended!" - Clarissa Harwood, author of Impossible Saints and Bear No Malice--This text refers to the hardcover edition.
About the Author
- ASIN : B08NPLVHVN
- Publisher : Perfectly Proper Press (20 July 2021)
- Language : English
- File size : 2413 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 362 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: 221,123 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from Australia
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I've enjoyed Matthews' Victorian romances in the past and expected to enjoy this one just as much, although a little dubious of the Dracula thread as I'm not a huge fan of this type of gothic fiction. But it did work well here, especially the subtle way in which it is introduced through John's reactions to the odd and disturbing events happening around him which he attributes to his use of laudanum.
John's courage, kindness and steadfastness, make him the ideal hero. Shocked by the strange appearance of his two mute, young charges, he treats them with patience and gentleness. As his tutelage continues, they become more boy-like and less wary of him, but he still can't explain their continued silence or interpret the looks that pass between them.
John's first meeting with Bertha does not go well, but he is drawn to the enigmatic and formidable woman who he later learns is his employer. An unhappy experience in his past is a constant reminder of the mistake he made, one that he doesn't wish to repeat, but he cannot help but be drawn to Bertha's strength and the fear and vulnerability he glimpses at times. As their friendship develops, he is aware she is keeping secrets from him. When these secrets are revealed in all their horror, she finally shares with him how she thwarted Rochester's plans, became guardian of the two little boys and the efforts made to keep her household safe.
John Eyre is another triumph for Mimi Matthews. It offers a unique and exciting take on an old favourite that I'm sure will be enjoyed by other readers whether they have read the originals or not.
I received a complimentary copy of this book as a participant in a blog tour.
I'd just like to start out by saying that I'm probably not really the right person to be reviewing this, because I would never have picked up such a book but for the author, who's never disappointed me yet. And it was an eye-opener! Realistically, I probably won't read it again, but it was an amazing example of the way that superb writing can make even something I would normally avoid, enjoyable. The story kept me enthralled from first to last, despite (a) the hints (and more) of the supernatural; (b) the fact that I don't even like the book Jane Eyre!; and (c) a heroine I didn't really like (she's selfish and tyrannical - though with hints of vulnerability that make her at least a little more relatable). Summary: if I was able to enjoy the story, those at whom it is really aimed - fans of Jane Eyre, and those who enjoy more supernatural-type stories - should love it. I'm rating it as 4 stars, but for the intended audience I'm sure it would be a 5-star read. However, I'm looking forward to the author going back to more her usual style... :-)
Note that I received a complimentary copy of the book from NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review and this is my considered opinion of the book.
Top reviews from other countries
However, I found this novel difficult and not to my taste and didn't finish it. I may go back to it, but the hints of "darkness and shadows" are too vampirish for me to continue, and I feel it is a travesty against the original Jane Eyre.
But I'm sure there will be others who like it
Another big change is the introduction of a supernatural element (while the strange and scary things happening in Jane Eyre ended up explained in a more "normal" way). The events described in Bertha Rochester's letters and journal entries (a format that matches the other classic book that inspired those sections) happened more than a year before John Eyre arrived at Thornfield Hall but are presented in chapters that alternate with the main narration so, by the time John finds out what Bertha was hiding from him, the reader already knows most of her backstory. I thought it worked very well.
Let's face it. My view of this book starts out from a personal bias about one of the original classics. The heroine of Bronte's JANE EYRE, along with Jane Austen's heroine Fannie of MANSFIELD PARK, have long been two of my least favorite female protagonists. Insipid and mostly spineless (perhaps Jane a bit less so than Fannie) and boring to boot, IMO. But that's just me, probably.
However, when you take colorless Jane and just turn her into an even more colorless John, it doesn't bode well for my enjoyment. So the Jane Eyre portion of this book did not thrill me. Mrs. Rochester even turned out to be just as self-centered and aloof as Bronte's Mr. Rochester. What can I say? If you're going to write a take on a classic, maybe improve on it a bit, rather than just doing a gender flip.
The saving grace of this book, for me, was our attic-bound Mr. Rochester. His back story, based on another Victorian classic, was more interesting and was integrated nicely into the Bronte classic. If Matthews could have done as good a job of playing around with the gender-flipped Jane Eyre part, I would have given this four stars.
As it is, I found the character John Eyre to be too beta and too lacking in personality to be interesting or compelling. The romance between him and Mrs. Rochester was not convincing and it lacked any spark or passion. (Not talking about sex. Matthews doesn't do sex scenes. I'm talking about getting that romantic attraction and the feelings down on paper in their interactions. They weren't there.)
John Eyre leaves his job as a school master in disgrace and heads to Yorkshire, England to tutor two strange young boys at Thornfield Hall. The boys, Stephen and Peter, look like war refugees, and both are mute. Thornfield Hall is an odd place - creepy laughing and noises fill the night, a terrifying wolf roams the moor, and there is an ever-present silvery mist on the property. In the middle of all this is the intriguing and beautiful widow Bertha Mason Rochester. Sixteen months before John arrives, heiress Bertha was traveling to exotic lands, and she met the alluring Edward Rochester and married him. Through letters to a friend and journal entries, she detailed how their life together quickly fell apart; Mr. Rochester was much more than he appeared to be, and it was all terrifying. Now John and Bertha must fight the darkness together and pray they all survive.
I admit although I know much about Jane Eyre and the other unnamed classic, I have not read either of those books. Don't judge me! (I can hear you judging me! I'm just not a classics sort of gal). This version is told in a dual timeline, and parts of the story are told through journal entries and letters. And of course, this book is obviously gender flipped. It's a Victorian gothic novel mixed with both horror and supernatural aspects; it sounds weird, but it works! John was a great hero. He left his current position behind and moved to a totally surreal estate where he was to teach two peculiar little boys. Stephen and Peter will break your heart! You can feel the love and caring that John feels for his two charges, and it was wonderful to see them begin to bloom under his care. The burgeoning horror John felt at Thornfield Hall was palpable. Also, he couldn't help but be drawn to the enigmatic Bertha, even though he was her employee. I didn't care for Bertha at all for about a third of the story; however, as I began to discover her past from her writings, she became a much more sympathetic figure, and revealed just how strong a woman she really was. The romantic feelings between John and Bertha were slow to build, though there was immediate attraction. I felt a growing sense of dread as the story came close to its conclusion. I had no idea how things could end happily, or how they could even survive! This is such an amazing story; if you're new to the writings of Ms. Matthews, I'm sure you'll love her work as much as I do...if that's even possible!
I received an ARC of this book courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley. I received no compensation for my review, all all thoughts and opinions expressed are entirely my own.