It isn’t often that I come across a book that leaves me in utter disappointment to the extent that I would go so far as to discourage anyone else from reading it–especially if reading it involves spending any money–but Emma and the Werewolves by Jane Austen and Adam Rann is just such a book.
Anyone who loves Jane Austen will be at first struck by the fact that most of the story is the original Emma as written. In fact it is stated on the copyright page, “In this publication, the original text of Emma has been left intact to perserve Jane Austen’s work as intended. The only liberties taken were to accommodate formatting for this edition and mild editing of the original text to correct any blatant errors and the occasional adjustment to suit the story.”
If the original text is left intact (pretty much entirely) to “preserve Jane Austen’s work as intended” then this begs the question, why attempt a monster mash-up? It also makes “the occasional adjustment to suit the story” seem more like Rann inserting interjections that interrupt the story, deviate from the established writing style, and stutter the tone.
Spelling and grammatical errors persist in just about every section in which Rann has made an adjustment to include the werewolf subplot elements. This is particularly distressing as many of these errors could have been addressed with better editing (note that “mild editing of the original text” was the only editing to be mentioned, but there are errors there as well).
- No wild beast had ever wandered onto it lands before and she possessed no reason to believe this murderer of men and children would come now. [p3-4]
- He clothes looked as if they had been thrown on and his hair a mess. [p5]
- And with that, Knightley hurried away to business he professed he must he attend to else where. [p8]
- Only by God’s grace had he had been able to eliminate a few of the things already. [p17]
- Knightley knew he must keep his appearance and the norms of his behavior during the day no matter how trying it may be as thus he elected to call upon his good friends as he had always had done and Mrs. Weston and hers ranked high among them. [p25]
And there are more including entire paragraphs without proper punctuation. The argument can even be made that the original text was not edited as it maintains spellings such as surprize, shew, and chuse, which may have been as Jane Austen intended but have fallen into the misspelling category for modern writers. This becomes even more an issue when Rann uses the modern standard spellings in his sections.
For anyone attempting a Jane Austen mash-up of any kind where the original text will be utilized the first rule is to understand Jane Austen’s writing style–not just how she develops characters and presents situations, but wording and phrasing. I should mention that before I began reading Emma and the Werewolves I had never actually read the original Emma; however, even without that background, I was able to tell every alteration made simply by the change in style, word choice, and errors. There is no seamless blending of Austen and Rann as claimed by one reviewer.
As to the story, Emma is as delightful and witty a story as one would expect from Jane Austen. In regards to the werewolves they are too much hinted at, but there are some very interesting things hinted at. I would love to read this story again in it’s better edited and polished form because I struggle to believe that this is the final, correct version as published. Some grievous mistake must have been made for this many errors to be present in a published work from a publishing house with multiple titles, even if it is Adam Rann’s first.
It is for all of these reasons that Sarah and I decided not to encourage any other DJABC members to purchase or endorse the reading of the book, and why we decided to switch to reading Emma as Jane Austen intended.
Points of note:
- Emma and the Werewolves (2009) is Adam Rann’s first publication according to the author information printed in the book.
- The book was published by Coscom Entertainment which specializes in superhero and monster fiction with several other mash-up monster titles in their catalog.
- At the time this post was written there were only 3 customer reviews on Amazon‘s page for Emma and the Werewolves, none of which mentioned the spelling, grammar, and other editing errors.
- The book is available as a paperback, Kindle via Amazon or for Nook via Barnes & Nobles. I bought the paperback while Sarah bought the Nook version–we both noticed the same errors.
*Photo: Writing Tools by peteoshea, obtained through Flickr.