Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls: Regency England with zombies, the prequel to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I admit to finding myself caught up with just the thought. Jane Austen, provided she is still resting peacefully, is probably rolling over in her grave. No, wait, she did that already when they wrote Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and put her name on it. So undoubtedly she’s done with the spinning and started with the smashing her way out of the coffin to join the others in the search for brains. I must admit, before I go any further, to a personal dislike for Jane Austen fostered by having to read her a bit too often throughout my academic career. This dislike was so strong that I found myself wanting to dislike this book in spite of the promised zombies and my curiosity as to how author Stephen Hockensmith would manage to liven up this dreadfully boring period in history.

Hockensmith makes two promises to his reader in the first two sentences. One: Propriety will be center stage. Two: It will be sharing that stage with a zombie. Personally, I think he keeps both of those promises extremely well. Despite my aforementioned distaste for Jane Austen, I found the book to be irrepressibly funny, capably poking fun in the direction of propriety at every turn and yet managing still not to turn the book into a complete farce. His wit consistently shines through and makes what could otherwise be a dull plodding read into a minor laugh riot.

As with all Jane Austen novels, or those of that vein, a strong female main character is required. For Dawn of the Dreadfuls, that heroine is Elizabeth Bennet, the second of the five Bennet girls. Up until the opening of our story, and the unfortunate events of the funeral of Mr. Ford, these five girls (Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Lydia, and Kitty) lived the expected lives of those of their station. They learned needlepoint and went to dances, ever encouraged by their mother to try and make the best match possible to elevate their family further up the social ladder. Then Mr. Ford crawls out of his coffin and smashes their quiet lives to shambles.

Mr. Bennet is forced to press his daughters into the service he has been avoiding, that of zombie slayers. Or rather, the dreadfuls as no self-respecting English lady would use the “Zed word”. Enter young Master Hawksworth, the teacher who will turn the Bennet girls into the fighters they were meant to be by right of birth and one of the two men who will vie for Elizabeth’s affections. This is a novel based on Jane Austen, you knew there was going to be some kind of romantic entanglement in here somewhere. He is a staunch, hard-headed, and proud fellow who turns out to be less than he appears though manages to redeem himself quite admirably in the end. His opponent, Dr. Keckilpenny, the absent minded professor who wishes to see the Dreadfuls brought down by the keen scientific English mind as opposed to the Eastern barbarism that Hawskworth represents. I would love to tell you how it all turns out, but that would take all the fun out of reading.

Add in the ladies and gentlemen who turn up their noses only to begrudgingly admit they need help and one lecherous nobleman to feed to the brain deprived masses and you have quite a story. One I fully intend to read over and over again until the pages start falling out of the book.

Dawn of the Dreadfuls is brought to you by Quirk Classics.

Don’t go yet, we’re not done. Quirk Classics wants to show their love to those who find their work through bloggers by offering a chance at one of fifty Quirk Classic Prize Packs. Just go to their public forum (http://www.quirkclassics.com/index.php?q=QuirkClassicsContest_DOD_Reviews) and mention my blog [Creative Chaos]. Share your thoughts and you could get:
An advance copy of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls
Audio copies of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies & Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters
An online password redeemable for sample audio chapters of Dawn of the Dreadfuls
An awesome Dawn of the Dreadfuls Poster
A Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Journal
A box set of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies postcards.

You give Quirk a few minutes of your time and they give you a hundred plus dollars worth of swag. Sounds like a fair trade to me. Wish I could take part, but I am blogging about it. Go now, go quick, go share!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hmm you make this tome sound nearly palatable. Your voice is very interesting to listen to as well, which probably accounts for my new interest in this book. Keep it up!