Ms. Austen’s Zombies – “Pride & Prejudice & Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After” by Steve Hockensmith
To all the readers who have always felt that Mary and Kitty Bennet didn’t get nearly enough to do in Jane Austen’s classic novel “Pride and Prejudice” — You need to read “Pride & Prejudice & Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After.” Like, NOW.
Seth Grahame-Smith’s mash-up novel, “Pride & Prejudice & Zombies” was a sensation. As it launched a trend of monster stories mixed with classic fiction, it remained the best, most entertaining, and best written example of the genre.
Having read a great deal of this genre, I feel qualified to say loud and proud that the people at Quirk Books are the best at producing this kind of book. Mash-up is a special type of beast, and just because it’s a good concept doesn’t mean it’ll actually work out on paper. (“Little Women and Warewolves” is a perfect example of ones that didn’t pull it off, while Quirk’s “Android Karenina” is among the best.)
It was with incredible joy that I received my advance copy of Quirk’s latest installment in the “P & P & Z” trilogy (which also contains the prequel, “Dawn of the Dreadfuls.”) The series, which recasts the lovely Bennett sisters as five highly-trained zombie-battling swords-women taking down England’s zombie outbreak, is charming, funny, and actually one of the best tributes to Jane Austen ever written.
Usually, when I see sequels to Austen novels, I groan. (“Mr. Darcy Takes A Wife?” Zzzzzz.)
However, I gave this one a shot. I mean, it has zombies.
Steve Hockensmith’s “Pride & Prejudice & Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After” is one of the most tremendously entertaining books I’ve come across in a long time. As a fan of Jane Austen, I’ve always felt there were certain characters (like the previously mentioned Kitty and Mary) who didn’t get enough play in the original novel – and this book lets them shine. Though the story centers around Mr. Darcy’s having been bitten by a dreadful (what zombies are called in this parallel regency world) and lingering in limbo between staying human and becoming a full-fledged dreadful himself, it’s hardly the least interesting plot. Elizabeth, aided by her sister Kitty and her father, has to obey the always-scheming Lady Catherine to obtain a potential cure for the zombie disease in order to save Darcy before it’s too late. Along the way, they face ninjas, a creepy hospital, a young dandy with a rabbit, and several familiar faces in new settings. Will they get the cure to Darcy in time? Is Lady Catherine on their side after all? Will Darcy be tricked into thinking Elizabeth has abandoned him in his time of need?
Elizabeth, of course, is the main character. That said, the book belongs to her two sisters – two characters who’ve often been overlooked by Austen’s readers. Here, Kitty and Mary are highly trained, dedicated warriors on their respective quests for the truth. Kitty (who’s always felt herself boring) puts on silly airs to win over the heart of a young man who might prove useful to them, all the while falling for someone who society would never accept her having a relationship with. For her part, Mary is headstrong and heads off into the darker side of London’s underworld.
Also! Anne de Bourgh (another character too quickly overlooked in the original novel) gets a full fleshing-out here, and becomes a strangely fascinating character – and not nearly as obvious of a bad guy as she was the first time around.
The above is all I can say without giving something away. Full of twists and turns and things you don’t expect, this is a really great read.
Like it’s clever predecessor, I loved this book – a lot. If this is the end of the zombie-fighting Bennett sisters, congratulations to Steve Hockensmith for letting them go out with a bang.