Dawn of the Dreadfuls
by Steve Hockensmith and Jane Austen
[Make sure you stick around until the end of the post to learn how to enter to win one of 50 Prize Packs from Quirk Books!]
In Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, we witnessed one of literature's favorite heroines, Elizabeth Bennet, fall in love while fighting valiantly against the zombie menace that had overtaken England. Now, in this lively prequel, PPZ: Dawn of the Dreadfuls, learn how the hoardes of unmentionables became said menace, and lively Lizzie found herself becoming one the British Isles foremost warrior-maidens.
There are going to be some of you reading this -- those of you who were around for Helluva Halloween -- who are going to be surprised that I decided to read this. You may recall from my review of Seth Grahame-Smith's Pride and Prejudice and Zombies that I was, shall we say, less than pleased. You're thinking, 'Why would she even bother if she didn't like the first one?' It's simple: Dawn of the Dreadfuls has a different author. It was a risk I was willing to take.
It was worth it.
PPZ: Dawn of the Dreadfuls blew the socks off the first book. Now, Steven Hockensmith did have some advantages in that writing a prequel was a bit more of a clean slate; though he did have to remain faithful to the world and characters created, he did not have to try to work his words into those of another and make it seamless. That's not to say he had an easy task. He still had to mimic Austen's writing, create a believable prequel that could plausibly lead up to both the original text and Grahame-Smith's altered one, and he still had to find a way to strike a balance between Regency-era novel and zombie romper. I think he did admirably on all counts.
In PPZ: DOD we get to watch as the dreadful plague, thought vanquished for years, returns to England. The Bennet girls find themselves in a peculiar situation, as their father intends them to learn the ways of the warrior, whilst their mother (and society) wishes them to go to balls and marry well. Young teens all, they've never been faced with the zombie menace -- or the handsome, red-coated officers who come to Meryton to battle them. The resulting mash-up of their experiences -- learning how to wield battleaxes and practice the Pouncing Panther and remain demure, proper English ladies at the same time -- makes for exactly the type of story Quirk Books is trying to present: fun parodies of literature's Greats that hit the mark without being condescending, insipid, or utterly ridiculous.
The best compliment I can give Hockensmith is that there were times, in the midst of the ridiculous Regency zombieness, that it felt like Jane Austen could have written it. Nearly all of the things I didn't like in the first book were well done in this prequel. Unlike G-S, Hockensmith captured her tone and liveliness and humor well, and he remained faithful to the characters and world she created. Lizzie is both the sharp girl of Austen's classic, and the budding fierce warrior of Grahame-Smith's parody. Her sister, Jane, is as charming and sweet-natured as ever, and Mrs. Bennet is ever anxious that her daughters marry well before someone fall victim to the unmentionables and leave them all ruined. He kept their characters and personalities intact, while skewing the story just enough to make their actions still make sense in much-altered circumstances.
All told, there's a little something for everyone: fans of Jane will find a fun twist on her work, and a real effort to stay true to her and her language, with little surprises planted for those familiar with her most famous work; fans of zombies will find brain-munching dreadfuls in abundance; fans of romance will find some romantic plot twists and general funness; fans of strong female characters will certainly love Elizabeth. If you didn't like the first one, I think you'll like this. If you did like the first one, I think you'll like this more. And if you've been unsure of whether to try one of these lit parodies that's suddenly all the rage, I think this is a good place to start. I would recommend getting your hands on a copy in time for Helluva Halloween II...(yeah, it's coming).
Alright, you've read what I have to say about it. Now you can go enter Quirk Books Super Awesome Amazingtastic Contest: the All-Out-Worldwide-Zombie-Blog-Explosion 2010!. Just click the link and let them know where you read the review (here on Book Rat, of course).
Doing so will automatically enter you to win one of 50 Quirk Classics Prize-Packs, each of which includes:
o A Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Journal
o Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Postcards
o Audio Books of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters
o An advance copy of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls
o A password redeemable online for sample audio chapters of Dawn of the Dreadfuls
o A Dawn of the Dreadfuls Poster
Super Awesome Amazingtastic, right? I think there may even be a few more, all surprise-like. Well, what are you waiting for? Go, go!
disclosure: I received this book for review
disclosure: I received this book for review