A Most Amiable Read


I am about halfway through the very entertaining Northanger Abbey and Angels and Dragons. The book was written and illustrated by Vera Nazarian as a paranormal parody of Jane Austen’s book Northanger Abbey (which was Jane Austen’s parody of the dark fantasy novels so popular in her day). Nazarian gives equal credit for writing Northanger Abbey and Angels and Dragons to Jane Austen, which was a smart and fair thing to do. I haven’t read Northanger Abbey, but what prose I have seen suggests that the angels and dragons are Nazarian’s literary contribution to the parody; Austen’s prose is still there. I watched Masterpiece Theatre’s adaptation of Northanger Abbey, and Nazarian’s parody does not alter this likable heroine or the charming flow of the story.

I am enjoying Northanger Abbey and Angels and Dragons. It’s light, witty, and fun to read. The premise is that Austen’s heroine, Catherine Morland can see angels, as well as demons and dragons. Nazarian’s descriptions of the angels is particularly pleasing. Her style is very visual, and I can really ‘see’ the little angels and their firefly glow illuminating cravats, bonnets, puffy sleeves, and Georgian interiors. The demons masquerade as members of society, but the fact that Catherine can see and hear them as they really are makes for very amusing characterizations. The dragon is cool — I gather it plays a larger role in the 2nd half of the novel and look forward to its reappearance. There’s another creature that’s appears unexpectedly to vex people in the extreme — I won’t tell you what it is, but it will make you smile.

I haven’t read other paranormal parodies of Jane Austen novels, so I can’t say how Northanger Abbey and Angels and Dragons stacks up against them. I can only tell you that I find this novel very easy to read. The structure of the paranormal world is neatly drawn and makes sense. The dialogue and description just sort of roll you through the paragraphs (props to Ms. Austen for this, but Nazarian’s additions blend without any glitch in style). Nazarian’s contributions make me chuckle. You will probably like this if you like Jane Austen and classic chick lit of the 19th century, if you like fantasy novels, and if you like lighthearted horror elements. I like the dark, horrific stuff too, but that’s another type of book. For my lighter side, Northanger Abbey and Angels and Dragons does quite nicely.

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