John Eyre was suspenseful, and atmospheric gothic reimagining of classic novels, Jane Eyre and Dracula, with atmospheric and vivid setting and beautiful, lyrical and descriptive writing.
I’m pleased to be part of virtual book tour of JOHN EYRE:A TALE OF DARKNESS AND SHADOW, Mimi Matthews’ highly acclaimed Bronte-inspired Gothic romance, July 12-25, 2021. Check out other bloggers joining the tour at the end of the post.
John Eyre: A Tale of Darkness and Shadow by Mimi Matthews
Publication Date : publication: July 20th 2021
Publisher : Perfectly Proper Press
Genre : historical fiction, Gothic romance, paranormal fiction
Pages : 364
*** Disclaimer : I received e-copy of this book as a part of blog tour via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Laurel @Austen Prose for tour invite and publisher, author, NetGalley for review copy. ***
Yorkshire, 1843. When disgraced former schoolmaster John Eyre arrives at Thornfield Hall to take up a position as tutor to two peculiar young boys, he enters a world unlike any he’s ever known. Darkness abounds, punctuated by odd bumps in the night, strange creatures on the moor, and a sinister silver mist that never seems to dissipate. And at the center of it all, John’s new employer—a widow as alluring as she is mysterious.
Sixteen months earlier, heiress Bertha Mason embarked on the journey of a lifetime. Marriage wasn’t on her itinerary, but on meeting the enigmatic Edward Rochester, she’s powerless to resist his preternatural charm. In letters and journal entries, she records the story of their rapidly disintegrating life together, and of her gradual realization that Mr. Rochester isn’t quite the man he appears to be. In fact, he may not be a man at all.
From a cliff-top fortress on the Black Sea coast to an isolated estate in rural England, John and Bertha contend with secrets, danger, and the eternal struggle between light and darkness. Can they help each other vanquish the demons of the past? Or are some evils simply too powerful to conquer?
“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
“An entertaining spin on a classic with thrilling twists and turns…Matthews skillfully transforms a well-known story into a truly original tale.”— Kirkus
“[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
“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, bestselling author of The London Restoration
“[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
John Eyre was intriguing and interesting gothic reimagining of Jane Eyre and Dracula that revolved around school master John Eyre, his employer Bertha Rochester and her secrets, and darkness that lurked around Thornfield Hall. The story was about light after dark, good vs evil, will and determination, betrayal, love, friendship, greed, women empowerment, endurance, and trust.
Writing was beautiful, lyrical and descriptive and engaging. It was written in dual timeline- present 1843-44, third person narrative from John’s perspective and past was Sixteen months earlier 1842-43 in first person narrative from Bertha’s POV in letters and journal format. I haven’t read both original books so reimagining worked well for me as I couldn’t compare it and that made it enjoyable.
Plot was dark and suspenseful. It started with John Eyre taking job at remote Thornfield Hall as a tutor of two boys after the tragic loss of his former employers’ wife. On arriving Thornfield, he realised much was kept from him in his employment letter- Boys were ward of Mrs Bertha Rochester his mostly absent employer, there was no background of kids, they were mute, didn’t exactly understood English and looked like living corpse. There was constant unease ever since he arrived Thornfield, chilling scraping, hissing and whispering at night, odd screaming, and there was ever present unnatural silvery mist around Thornfield. He felt there was much to the kids and also to his employer.
It was interesting to read why there was mysterious mist around Thornfield, what happened during Bertha’s travel, what was Mr Rochester and happened to him, how Bertha found her wards, how she escaped and return back to Thornfield, how John would uncover all secrets of Thornfield and of Bertha, would his feelings for Bertha change once he knew the truth, would he leave his job like his previous employment or would support Bertha.
John was likable from the beginning. He was man of words and thoughts, his position as tutor and orphan childhood made his position as subordinate very clear in his mind and he didn’t wish to cross it, to make his life complex and troubled, he wasn’t man of violence and never considered himself a hero. He felt his nature of being in his limits caused tragic loss of his former employer’s wife who wanted to be more than friends with him. The guilt and regret of it weighing on shoulder ever since. But at Thornfield he slowly found home, he started to care for Stephen and Peter (Bertha’s wards), and he brought lot of change in them by applying many different methods. His work with these boys showed how wise, smart, sensible he was. I didn’t like him jumping to assumptions for being opinionated towards Bertha but that looked reasonable from his view point as he didn’t know anything about her until revealed and yet I enjoyed how slowly his view changed and started to fall for Bertha. I admired him for how he reacted and what he decided on Bertha’s revelation.
Bertha was hard to read from John’s perspective but her narration through her intermittent letter and journal revealed her character and I understood her more. It showed what she might have gone through and what she endured to be strong, hard, formidable, emotionless and blunt from lively, loving and vulnerable young lady she was before her marriage. I admired her for her forward thought, for not settling when she was told but taking time to explore the world and settle down when she was ready. But what was more admirable was her sheer will and determination to survive and live, to escape the darkness of her marriage and how she took revelation of her husband’s true self. Her stay with her husband revealed how much she endured and to what length she went to keep herself, her fortune, and her wards safe. It was so sad that she couldn’t confide in anyone, not even to John until she was forced. She was true hero of the story.
Setting of Thornfield and Nosht-Vulk in Senniskali village, Bulgaria was best part of the book. It kept the sense of anxiety alive throughout the story. Its descriptions were vivid and truly gothic. It felt like character itself. Another aspect I enjoyed was the time period. Elaborate description of dressing, places, society, beliefs and Christianity took me back to Victorian era and it was easy to imagine what life people might have and how they lived, position of women in world of men, how less their opinion mattered, and importance given to religion and superstition.
This wasn’t exactly romance. The main focus was suspense and paranormal aspect. Romance was something additional to it. Both Bertha and John had differences in the beginning. John being opinionated, not knowing Bertha well and what happened to her while Bertha kept her distance, intimidating side up, not trusting with her secret. But as story progressed their conversations grew and they formed friendship and feelings that they couldn’t deny. It made me frustrated and impatient waiting for Bertha to reveal the truth but when it was done it tested their relationship.
That revelation came in climax. John’s reaction was realistic and this part showed how patient, observant and rational he was. I loved him for not running away right after it and was ready to hear what Bertha had to say. It kept me on the edge and curious to see what John would do after that and how they would get rid of the darkness that surrounded their life and Thornfield. I have to say I was surprised with events that followed. End was hopeful and happily ever after.
Why 4 stars-
My only issue was slow pace. It felt like suspense kept building and building until I was impatient and just wanted to flip pages faster to reach to the revelation that came at around 70% or later than that.
Overall, John Eyre was interesting, suspenseful, and atmospheric gothic historical fiction and reimagining of Jane Eyre and Dracula.
I recommend this if you like,
Less romance and more focus on plot and characters
atmospheric and vivid setting
Slow to moderate pace
Historical fiction set in Victorian era
USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews writes both historical nonfiction and award-winning proper Regency and Victorian romances. Her novels have received starred reviews in Library Journal and Publishers Weekly, and her articles have been featured on the Victorian Web, the Journal of Victorian Culture, and in syndication at BUST Magazine. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes a Sheltie, and two Siamese cats.
July 12 The Caffeinated Bibliophile (review)
July 12 Syrie James (review)
July 12 Austenprose—A Jane Austen Blog (review)
July 13 Bronte Blog (interview)
July 13 Laura’s Reviews (review)
July 13 All-of-a-Kind Mom (spotlight)
July 14 Gwendalyn’s Books (review)
July 14 Austenesque Reviews (review)
July 15 Bookworm Lisa (review)
July 15 Nurse Bookie (review)
July 16 Savvy Verse and Wit (excerpt)
July 16 The Lit Bitch (review)
July 17 My Bookish Bliss (review)
July 17 From the TBR Pile (review)
July 18 Rosanne E. Lortz (review)
July 18 Books, Teacups, & Reviews (review)
July 19 The Secret Victorianist (review)
July 19 Christian Chick’s Thoughts (review)
July 19 The Gothic Library (review)
July 20 Getting Your Read On (review)
July 20 The Silver Petticoat Review (review)
July 20 Lu Reviews Books (review)
July 21 Scuffed Slippers and Wormy Books (spotlight)
July 21 The Green Mockingbird (review)
July 22 Unabridged Chick (review)
July 22 A Darn Good Read (review)
July 23 Kathleen Flynn (review)
July 23 So Little Time… (review)
July 23 The Calico Critic (review)
July 24 The Bronte Babe (review)
July 24 Probably at the Library (review)
July 24 Impressions in Ink (review)
July 25 From Pemberley to Milton (review)
July 25 Vesper’s Place (review)
July 25 Cup of Tea with that Book Please (review)
Thank you for reading! Let’s chat…
What do you think about book and review? Have you read this already? Have you rad these original classics? Which Classic retelling/reimaging/retelling you enjoyed most?
Just in case you missed…
Sign of Four – Book review
Why I Comment on Other Bloggers’ Posts Even If They Never Visits My Blog? – Discussion Post
Cast in Firelight – Book Review
Sign up to receive email whenever I publish new post-