Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Dawn of the Dreadfuls by Steve Hockensmith
The title says it all, a book set in the time of the much lauded Bennet family, but one where vicious zombies (is there any other kind?) have returned to cultured England after a previous war to exterminate them failed. This book is a prequel to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (if they keep on adding bits to the original title then book 8 is going to be a mouthful…) and I loved it!
Let’s face it, the original Pride and Prejudice was shite. There I’ve said it and I’m not sorry. All that quaffing about is enough to give a man an ulcer, and don’t get me started on Mr Darcy, who requires a good solid kick in his upper class bollocks.
Yet in Dawn of the Dreadfuls (zombies are quaintly referred to in this way, as well as being called ‘unmentionables’, how absolutely delightful!) we have Elizabeth and Jane and their younger siblings as kick-ass ninjas, wielding swords and axes as skilfully as their contemporaries would use a needle and thread. Their poor mother, meanwhile, continues to stubbornly attempt to secure appropriate husbands for her wayward daughters, whilst conveniently ignoring the zombie chaos that has erupted across her previously idyllic world.
All the regular Pride and Prejudice attitudes and bigotries are here, but they fall to the background out of necessity as Elizabeth et al. slice and dice the rampaging zombie hordes, and Mrs Bennet tries not to swoon -no one swoons any more, what a pity – at the sight of all that blood on their beautiful dresses… and how unladylike such behaviour is… and whatever will the neighbours say…
There are a number of love interests for the beguiling Bennet girls, including the mysterious Master Hawksworth (Master because he is an expert at martial arts, not because he is a boy, although I suppose all men are still boys to some extent), and Dr Keckilpenny, the government sponsored scientist.
Yet the question soon becomes, are any of these determined men good enough, or strong enough, to capture the hearts of such delicate English flowers as would lop the heads off numerous, ravenous unmentionables without breaking a nail, whilst simultaneously contemplating which gorgeous dress they will wear to the upcoming ball?
The answer lies not in these lines, but in the book. Go and read it and don’t be so bloody lazy!
I really wish that Jane Austen had thought to write this story instead of the cac I was forced to read and write upon for school exams. Imagine giving a 16 year old a book with zombies and telling them to learn about character definition, motivations, plot-lines and sub-plots. I feel that there would be a great deal more A students in the world of English literature, if such an approach were adopted.
What if Heathcliff and Catherine had encountered zombies, vampires or even werewolves on the moors (think American Werewolf in London)? Now that would be a classic novel.
Dawn of the Dreadfuls is a very witty and well-written book. It is extremely engaging if you’re ok with zombies. It might have been even better with some raunchy sex scenes thrown in. I bet loads of people would enjoy the idea of Elizabeth and Jane getting sweaty with their suitors as they test their stamina amid all those flouncy big dresses and posh clipped accents… oops, did I just write that… ahem… moving swiftly on…
Sult Scale rating: 7 out of 10. Recommended.