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Jane Slayre: The Literary Classic with a Blood-Sucking Twistby Charlotte Bronte, Sherri Browning Erwin
A timeless tale of love, devotion . . . and the undead.
Jane Slayre, our plucky demon-slaying heroine, a courageous orphan who spurns the detestable vampyre kin who raised her, sets out on the advice of her ghostly uncle to hone her skills as the fearless slayer she’s meant to be. When she takes a job as a/b>
“ READER, I BURIED HIM . ”
A timeless tale of love, devotion . . . and the undead.
Jane Slayre, our plucky demon-slaying heroine, a courageous orphan who spurns the detestable vampyre kin who raised her, sets out on the advice of her ghostly uncle to hone her skills as the fearless slayer she’s meant to be. When she takes a job as a governess at a country estate, she falls head-over-heels for her new master, Mr. Rochester, only to discover he’s hiding a violent werewolf in the attic—in the form of his first wife. Can a menagerie of bloodthirsty, flesh-eating, savage creatures-of-the-night keep a swashbuckling nineteenth-century lady from the gentleman she intends to marry? Vampyres, zombies, and werewolves transform Charlotte Brontë’s unforgettable masterpiece into an eerie paranormal adventure that will delight and terrify.
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By Charlotte Bronte
GalleryCopyright © 2010 Charlotte Bronte
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THERE WAS NO POSSIBILITY of continuing my walk that night. We had been wandering, indeed, in the leafless shrubbery an hour after dark, but since Mrs. Reed had picked up a scent (Mrs. Reed, when there was no company, hunted early), I was sent home so the others could stalk their prey.
I was glad of it. I never liked long walks, especially on chilly evenings. Dreadful to me was the coming home in the raw midnight, with nipped fingers and toes, and a heart saddened by the death of the poor thing they?d dined on, raw, right in the middle of the wood. Not that I frequently watched as they took their meal. I avoided accompanying them on the hunt as often as I could.
In fact, I interfered with their efforts by inadvertently making noises to scare off whatever beast they?d settled on draining for their dinner. Unlike my cousins, my senses didn?t sharpen at night. My inability to see in the dark, combined with my natural lack of physical grace, led me to trip over tree roots, branches, fence posts, or even my own two feet. Most often, once Mrs. Reed?s nostrils flared to indicate a scent on the air, I ran home alone to face the chidings of Bessie, the nurse, both humbled by my consciousness of my physical inferiority to Eliza, John, and Georgiana Reed, and delighted I didn?t share their condition.
The said Eliza, John, Georgiana, and their mama had returned and were now clustered in the drawing room. Mrs. Reed lay on a sofa by the fireside and, with her darlings about her (for the time sated), looked perfectly happy. Me, she had dispensed from joining the group, saying, ?I regret to be under the necessity of keeping you at a distance; but until I hear from Bessie and can discover by my own observation that you are endeavouring in good earnest to acquire a more fierce and bold disposition, a more athletic and controlled manner?something quieter, stealthier, more unnatural as it were?I really must exclude you from privileges intended only for ruthless, bloodthirsty little children.?
?I don?t like blood,? I responded matter-of-factly. ?And I wouldn?t be as clumsy if we could go out during the day.?
I?d returned home without disturbing their hunt. I?d eaten my steak as rare as I could stand for my dinner, which was admittedly not very rare indeed. Though Mrs. Reed longed for me to develop some tolerance to blood, I preferred my potatoes and spinach to anything that had actually lived. Bessie was often required to recount what I?d left on my plate or if I?d woken before dusk to steal a glance of sunlight out the window.
A breakfast room adjoined the windowless drawing room. I slipped in there and lit a lamp. The Reeds preferred to keep the house dark, even during their waking hours in the night. I found the bookcase and soon possessed myself of a volume, taking care that it should be one filled with pictures. I mounted into the window seat and sat cross-legged. Having drawn the red velvet curtain nearly to a close, I did my best to confine the lamp?s light to my hiding spot. Folds of scarlet drapery shut in my view to the right hand; to the left were the clear panes of glass, protecting, but not separating, me from the drear November eve. At intervals, while turning over the leaves of my book, I studied the aspect of that moonless winter night. I couldn?t see far for the rain, and thank goodness. Who knew what dead thing they?d left out on the lawn for the servants to remove in light of day?
I returned to my book?Bewick?s History of British Birds. Sometimes, during the daylight hours through which I was demanded to sleep, I could hear the birds outside caroling and carrying on. I longed to see them in the daylight, to watch them twitter and flit. Once, in a late afternoon, I?d chanced to move the heavy curtains and catch a glimpse, but John Reed had also been awake and sneaking up on me right in time to be singed on the hand by a ray of sunshine streaming in through the folds. His screams roused the entire household and I had quite the thrashing for it. Was I trying to kill my cousin? He who was so kind to let me live and not drink my blood at tea?
Mere pictures of the birds, mixed in amongst sunlit images of foreign lands, were to content me. Each picture told a story of life lived during the daytime hours, mysterious often to my undeveloped understanding and imperfect feelings, yet ever profoundly interesting. As interesting as the tales Bessie sometimes narrated on winter evenings, when she brought her ironing table to the nursery hearth. She allowed us to sit about it and, while she got up Mrs. Reed?s hunting habit, fed our eager attention with passages of murder and mayhem passed down by her own Romanian grandmother. Sometimes, if I woke in the afternoon and she chanced to be awake and in good humour, she would tell lighter stories for my ears alone, tales of love and adventure taken from old fairy tales or folk songs.
With Bessie busy elsewhere, I contented myself with the Bewick?s on my knee. I feared nothing but interruption, and that came too soon. The breakfast-room door opened.
?Boh! Madam Mortal!? cried John Reed. He paused. He found the room apparently empty. ?Where the devil is she! Lizzy! Georgy! Jane is not here. Tell mama she is run out into the rain?bad human!?
It was well I drew the curtain, and I wished fervently he would not discover my hiding place. John Reed would not have found it out himself. He was not quick of any sensation that normally served his kind at the hunt; but Eliza just put her head in at the door and said at once?
?I smell her from here. She is in the window seat, to be sure, Jack.?
And I came out immediately, for I trembled at the idea of risking close contact with the said Jack at a time when he?d barely finished his dinner and probably thirsted for more.
?What do you want?? I asked with feigned boldness.
?Say, ?What do you want, Master Reed?? I want you to come here.? Seating himself in an armchair, he intimated by a gesture that I was to approach and stand before him.
John Reed retained the form of a schoolboy of fourteen years old, four years older than I, for I was but ten. Large and stout for his age, with a greyish pallor, wide features, heavy limbs, and large extremities, he gorged himself habitually of prey, which gave him consistently red eyes and a leonine awareness, as if he were always on edge, ready to pounce on his next snack. He ought now to have been at school, but a fiendish child was used to waking at night and sleeping during the day. Besides, he would have frightened the others in class, and it would have been a tad suspicious had he risen through the ranks but remained all of fourteen in appearance.
John had not much affection for his mother and sisters, and an antipathy for me that I suspected derived from hunger. He pulled me close and sniffed me, not two or three times in the week, or once or twice in the day, but continually. Every nerve I had feared him, and every drop of blood in my veins coursed faster when he came near.
Some moments I was bewildered by the terror he inspired. I had no appeal whatever against either his menaces or his inflictions. The servants feared offending their young master lest he devour one of them, and Mrs. Reed was blind and deaf on the subject. She never saw him lick or bite at me, though he did both now and then in her very presence, more frequently, however, behind her back.
Though it was my habit to obey him, I did not approach. Something in his glowing eyes hinted at a craving not yet sated. It was possible that he didn?t get his fill of the stag or bear or whatever creature they?d feasted on. One day, I feared he would not be quenched with just a taste of my blood but would drink me dry or, worse, make a monster of me as he had one of the footmen, James, a poor lad who had once thwarted him and now had to forage in the night for bats or barn rats to eat his fill, being too small of stature to hunt effectively on his own.
?Hold out your hand,? he ordered. I stood my ground, hands behind my back. ?Approach,? he repeated, louder, sounding slightly annoyed, ?and hold out your hand.?
The room was small and no one would answer my screams. Whether I went to him voluntarily or waited for him to get me made little difference if my fate was to be John Reed?s dessert. Disobeying him might only fire his blood and force him to stop toying with me at last and do the deed.
I approached and, as ordered, held out my hand. He smiled the leering half smile he used when we were alone.
?Very good, my dear canap?.? He took my arm and roughly forced my sleeve up. His bulbous nose met my skin and traced a slow, damp trail up my forearm to the tender inner elbow, as far up my arm as my sleeve would expose.
Sighing, he paused a moment as if to take in my essence or to gather his wits. As he had no wits to gather, it must have been my essence giving him pause. Abruptly, he jerked me down into the chair, onto his lap, pulling my head to the side to better access my neck. With the pad of a finger, he stroked my throat.
?Your blood. I feel it thrumming through your veins.? His breathing slowed. I couldn?t see his face, but I imagined his pupils narrowing, a predator going in for the kill. I knew he would soon strike, and while dreading the bite, I mused on what it might be like to be one of them, to live forever in the dark with no hope of ever returning to the light. While Mrs. Reed did not give me leave to go out of doors in the daytime, in the back of my mind I kept the notion that I could. One day, given the right conditions, I would walk out and turn my face to the sun. John Reed was not going to take that dream from me.
I jerked free of his hold and sprang across the room.
With his superior build and skills as a hunter, he was on me immediately, shoving me to the floor and rolling with all his weight atop me. No doubt he read fear in my face, for he fed on it, twisting my arms up over my head and pinning me motionless beneath him. He licked my cheek, his tongue burning a path from chin to brow. I closed my eyes, squeezing tight, as if not seeing him would make him go away, but his breath was hot on my face and redolent with the smell of blood and entrails, his earlier repast. My stomach lurched.
?You taste sweet for such a vile, bitter little thing,? said he, ?sweet enough to be my reward for catching you sneaking around before you could hatch another scheme. Perhaps I should make you one of us and force you out into the sun. Then you?ll understand the pain you cause when you lift the curtains during the day.?
?I was only reading,? I said in my own defence. I was not in habit of answering John Reed?s accusations. My care was in how to endure whatever punishment he sought to inflict upon me. But now, his tone held new seriousness. I had always known he was on the edge of carrying through with his most severe possible threat, and at last he seemed ready to do his worst.
?Show the book.? He let me up to fetch it, both of us well aware that he would pin me down again, mouse to his cat, at his convenience.
I retreated to the window seat and returned to offer him the volume.
He flipped the pages, pausing at a scene of a gull soaring over a turbulent sea, clouds just beginning to cover a high midday sun. His eyes widened with an unmistakable look of envy. He slammed the book shut and threw it to the hearth, nearly pitching it into the fire.
?You have no business to take our books. You are a dependent, Mama says. You have no money. Your father left you none. You ought to beg, and not to live here with gentlemen?s children like us.?
?Soulless fiend children,? I corrected boldly, drawing a gasp from Georgiana and Eliza, who stood watching just inside the door.
He nodded, unfazed. ?You?re disgustingly mortal. We?ll live forever while you age and rot.?
I would not be so certain, I thought, and did not know from whence such a strong supposition took root. I suddenly had an image of myself standing over John Reed, a wooden stake in hand. I had no idea where I would acquire a stake, let alone find the strength to plunge one through John Reed?s heart, but the idea brought a queer little smile to my lips.
?Was that a laugh, Jane Slayre? At me??
I shook my head, the smile departing.
?Georgiana and Eliza, did you not hear it as well? The wretched little mortal thinks she has a reason to laugh! I?ll teach you to respect our power. Go and stand by the door, out of the way of the mirror and the windows.?
The Reeds could not stand to be near reflective surfaces, to find no self-image staring back. Most of the mirrors in the house had been removed, but the servants kept one in the breakfast room, a room seldom used by the Reeds since nature had forced them into the habit of hunting their meals out of doors.
I did as told, looking around futilely for a weapon as I crossed the room. I looked up just as he sprang to action, landing on me with enough force that we rolled several times to the side until I struck my head on the corner of the door. It made me dizzy, but I maintained consciousness enough to know the blow had left a cut, and the blood enticed John Reed to quiet contemplation of my head. My anger flared along with his nostrils at my scent.
?Wicked and cruel boy!? I said. ?You are like the monsters from Bessie?s tales, like Vlad the Impaler!?
Bessie often told of Vlad, of his cruelty and thirst for blood. I suspected she told the tale as a subtle warning to me not to thwart the Reeds, especially John; but suddenly, I was not afraid. He could do his worst, kill me even, but he could not force me to become one of his kind. I would not sacrifice my soul, as no doubt all of the Reeds had given theirs.
?What! What!? he cried. ?Did she say that to me? Did you hear her, Eliza and Georgiana? Won?t I tell Mama? But first??
I felt him grasp my hair and my shoulder and lick at the drop or two of blood that had trickled down my neck.
?So sweet,? he said. His fangs pierced my neck, a quick, sharp burn, and I was sensible of somewhat pungent suffering. These sensations for the time predominated over fear, and I received him in frantic sort. He drank until I began to weaken, and I had the vision again of my standing over him, victorious at last. I had no weapon, barely any consciousness, and yet I knew that I could fight. Fight! Something in me screamed. Fight! Live!
I rammed my knee up and connected with tender flesh.
?Rat! Rat!? he bellowed.
Aid was near him. Eliza and Georgiana had run for Mrs. Reed, who had gone upstairs. She now came upon the scene, followed by Bessie and Mrs. Reed?s maid, Abbot.
I lived in dread of Abbot. She frightened me far more than the vampyres, for I wasn?t certain what she was. I only knew that her limbs frequently detached and she had a devil of a time putting them back on. Sometimes, when Abbot nodded off for a nap and the Reed children were feeling especially naughty, they took delight in rearranging her as if she were a puzzle. Unfortunately, Abbot nodded off frequently, as she was not very vigorous, and the Reeds were always naughty. But what Abbot lacked in enthusiasm she made up for in strength. She held me by the collar with toes where her fingers should have been and pulled me away from John.
I heard, ?He?s going to eat her, Mama! May we all join in??
?No, no, dears! Her common blood will bring on fevers, maybe apoplexy! We only eat what we kill out of doors, or nobility!? Mrs. Reed?s insistence on purity of blood kept the servants feeling safe in her presence, but John Reed had occasionally shown that his appetite could overcome even this prejudice.
?But she smells tolerable,? Eliza said. I imagined her inching closer, fangs extended.
?She laughed,? Georgiana pointed out, as if to add to her mother?s argument about my disgusting common nature. ?She nearly drove us all out of mind with her unmitigated mirth.?
?What a wanton to tempt Master John with laughing and bleeding.? This from Abbot, monotone as ever but dutifully indignant on her mistress?s behalf. ?As if she wanted to be eaten.?
Then Mrs. Reed subjoined, ?Take her away to the red room and lock her in there, away from my children.? Four hands were immediately laid upon me, and I was borne upstairs.
? 2010 Sherri Browning Erwin
Excerpted from Jane Slayre by Charlotte Bronte Copyright © 2010 by Charlotte Bronte. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
A graduate of Mount Holyoke College, Sherri lives in Western Massachusetts with her nearly-perfect husband, and their charming actor son, amazing violinist daughter, a crafty corgi (Pembroke Welsh), and a very special pug. She has written historical romance for Dell under the name Sherri Browning and contemporary romance for Kensington under the name Sherri Erwin.
- Date of Birth:
- April 21, 1816
- Date of Death:
- March 31, 1855
- Place of Birth:
- Thornton, Yorkshire, England
- Place of Death:
- Haworth, West Yorkshire, England
- Clergy Daughters' School at Cowan Bridge in Lancashire; Miss Wooler's School at Roe Head
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I have always been a fan of both the classics and paranormal fiction, but I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about them mashed together. Jane Slayre made up my mind for me. I love it! Sherrie Browning Erwin stays true to the writing style of the original, but skillfully works in an edgy paranormal flair. (*Literary Purists, avert your eyes*) The paranormal elements actually make some of the Jane Slayre scenes more entertaining to read than the originals! This book has the same great characters and timeless romance, but with added entertainment value. You can't go wrong. I highly recommend this book to anyone. And Literary Purists: it just might convince you, too.
This is the third of the recent group of classic romance/horror humor mash-ups I've read and it is the very best of them. It succeeds in being a fun, light read because it avoided the traps of the almost-good "Pride & Prejudice & Zombies" and the waste of paper and time that was "Sense & Sensibility & Sea-monsters". No cheap jokes, no junior high sex puns, no glaring and stupid mistakes in the additions, no missed opportunities, and no pointless, tedious grafting onto the original story. The humor is dry, understated, and dovetailed nicely with the original voice of the main character. That Ms. Browning not only has read Jane Eyre, but understood and appreciated it, was apparent in her handling of the original material. She maintained qualities of the original characters and, while indicating the humor of the new situations in which she placed them, she never ridiculed or insulted them (I particularly liked her transformation of Mr. Brocklehurst -- it was everything I could desire). I didn't have a single eye rolling moment and my curiosity about how the story would develop and end remained high until the last few pages answered all. Quite a good, fun, light summer read.
First thing's first. If you are a Charlotte Brontë purist, you may not like or appreciate JANE SLAYRE by Charlotte Brontë and Sherri Browning Erwin. This story is similar to the original in the way 10 Things I Hate About You was similar to Taming of the Shrew; close enough to recognize the story, but that's about it. If you've ever read and liked these kind of adaptations before, I'm fairly certain you'll love this book. If you would rather keep Ms. Brontë's the story the way it is in your mind and don't want to experiment, don't read it. That being said, I highly recommend this book. Full of the paranormal, this is like crack for those of us who love the classics but just can't seem to get enough dark and creepy in our books. From the first page you'll get hooked as we meet Jane Slayre and learn a little bit about the family she is living with. While her cousins weren't my favorite children in the original, they are hilarious in this adaptation. Hilarious, but certainly not nice. You see, Jane has the unfortunate circumstance of living with a bunch of vampires. Not really something that to stick on a resume or use to boost one's social status. Like any good heroine in a paranormal story, Jane quickly learns that there is more to her history than she knew. She is a slayer, destined to hunt down creepy blood-suckers and end their miserable existence. All while wearing a dress and bonnet mind you. Can't have a girl's hair go frizzy, now can we. Probably the best aspect of this story was the hilarity of the situation. I haven't read a whole lot of these adaptations, so the whole idea is still pretty fresh and new to me. I just loved that I could revisit a favorite story of mine with a brand new twist thrown in. Combine that with the fact that one of my favorite romances now has an edge of suspense to it and you've got one heck of a book. Did I mention there are werewolves in JANE SLAYRE? Oh yes, there are! Zombies, vampires, werewolves...a paranormal girl's dream come true! Will Jane end up with Mr. Rochester? Will Mr. Rochester eat Jane? You'll have to read to find out! Even if this didn't have the original classic to cling on to and use for publicity, this would still be a great book. It can easily stand on its own against any paranormal out there right now. Well, that's my opinion anyway. What do you think Charlotte Brontë would say? I would hope she'd have a sense of humor and get a good giggle out of this story. I know I did.
I admit that although I've watched Jane Eyre on Masterpiece Theater, I haven't yet read the book in full. This may sound odd, but after reading this offshoot of the classic novel, I'd like to read the original Jane Eyre. With the vampyres, werewolves, and zombies, Jane Slayre is a playful adaptation of Charlotte Bronte's classic novel. Whether she's battling vampyres, zombies, or her growing attachment to Mr. Rochester, Jane Slayre is plucky, earnest, and endearing. I enjoyed the vampyre slayer aspects and didn't think that they detracted from the novel. Overall, I'd recommend Jane Slayre to fans of Jane Eyre and to those looking for a new take on the old vampyre and monster novels. It's a fun, satisfying read! ISBN-10: 1439191182 - Paperback Publisher: Gallery; Original edition (April 13, 2010), 400 pages. Review copy provided by the publisher.
I received this book as part of Gallery & Pocket Books SciFi/Fantasy Blog Tour Group. It is the first book of its type that I've had the chance to read. I borrowed Pride and Prejudice and Zombies from the library earlier this year but was too bogged down by books I had committed to review to read it. Since I know they have a copy I plan to borrow it again once I have managed to whittle my pile down a bit. I wasn't sure if I was going to like this book, but really wanted to give it a try. I recall reading Jane Eyre in high school but can't really recall a great deal. This book made it a bit more exciting, breathed a new and different kind of life into it. I don't recall disliking the original and have been meaning for years to reread it. I have a copy of it in my personal library for that day when I decide to read it again. The authors take on zombies, vampires and werewolves was interesting and really fits into a lot of the popular paranormal work I've seen lately. It was hard seeing Jane as an orphan living with her vampire aunt and cousins, being forced to stay awake at night and sleep during the day. Watching her grow and mature and live up to her name was an exciting adventure. This is a book I would recommend to friends and other readers. I am glad I had the opportunity to read it!
Being raised by vampyres doesn't change Jane's destiny as a slayer. She has a duty to rid the world of these creatures but it becomes a problem when she falls in love with a man who whose first wife is not only a werewolf, but also living in his home. In the end will love conquer all or will Jane be forced to live alone because of her responsibilities with the paranormal world? I thought this book was fantastic! I really loved the twists and turns, it was almost like a roller coaster ride. Two thumbs up!
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë has to be one of my all time favorites classic books. So, I was excited to learn that someone took that book and made a paranormal out of it. Sherri Browning Erwin has made what I believe as a successful adaptation of the Jane Eyre. I enjoyed this book a lot. I can also see why some people may not like it. The purists who hate to have a classic "messed" with might not have the same fun that I had with this book. The main story of Jane was altered a bit and not just by the paranormal parts. Jane had a more amiable time with the humans in her life than in the original book. Her fortitude seemed to come more from the frightening circumstances in her life before she was old enough to handle such things. Even Mr. Rochester was more likable from his introduction into Jane's life. It still was not a happy childhood, and Rochester is still forever the antagonist, but the main turning points in her life still held. It is as though a fan just tweaked parts of her life we would have all liked for our heroine. That I understand completely. :) I do recommend this book for those who want to have a bit of fun with their classic version of Jane. Finding a new way to cheer for her. For those that are purists of classic literature, I suggest you pass this one and read the original Jane Eyre. I gave this book 4 stars and had fun reading it.
Very unusual take on a classic. Definitely worth reading!!!
As one other reviewer put it, "Mr. Rochester and Vampires - I'm in". I felt the same way. Jane Eyre is my favorite book of all time, and I was intrigued to see a new twist on a much-loved tale. Jeez, what a complete waste of my time. Yes, there are vampires, ghouls, and a werewolf in the book. But their inclusion in the story seems haphazard and serves no purpose in the plot at all. I am very disappointed.
No offense meant to Ms. Bronte, but this version is so much better than the original! I love how she keeps to the bones of the story, but changes small details. I hope Ms. Browning Erwin adapts another classic, I would love to read it!
Vampire and Werewolves make Victorian Literature so much more fun. Loved it.
The best I can say about Jane Slayre is that it's a fun, action-packed read. But I would advise fans of the original not to set their standards too high. Charlotte Bronte took her sweet time developing Jane and Mr. Rochester both individually and as a couple. She gave her readers the time to know them and care enough to root for them to end up together. But Irwin here has other factors in play (the fantasy element) so the rapport between the characters takes a back seat in favor of the fantasy elements. Irwin just wants to get back to the "good stuff" (vampire-slaying and whatnot) and does so by rushing through the relationship of Jane and Rochester, changing their characters in the process. At this point, the book becomes plot-driven instead of character-driven. Proud, steadfast Jane deteriorates into a weepy, lovesick teenager, while Rochester's Byronic hero qualities are toned down to make him more like a white knight and less like Bronte's complex antihero. Furthermore, being familiar with Jane Eyre, I found that some portions of Jane Slayre were copied, word-for-word, from the original novel. Every now and then, amid demon-slaying ventures and metaphorical dream sequences, a phrase or an entire paragraph directly pulled from Jane Eyre would jump out at me, and it felt out of place. The formal 19th-century dialect of Bronte's literary voice disrupted the rather whimsical fantasy element. In other words, Irwin and Bronte's writing styles don't quite mesh. Jane Slayre is an overall entertaining read. Despite the botched characterization and inconsistent writing style, this book does deliver its share of fun.