Look, I think this is pretty obvious, but if you're the type of fan who believesOriginally posted on Small Review
What kind of reader are you?
Look, I think this is pretty obvious, but if you're the type of fan who believes the original Pride and Prejudice is a sacred text that should never be tampered with, then this really isn't the book for you. If you don't like zombie books where the zombies are of the hoarding, mindless brain-eater variety, then you probably won't like Dawn of the Dreadfuls.
If, however, those sorts of zombie stories appeal to you and you don't mind inserting a little zombie slaying into Austen's classic, then you should definitely seek out a copy of this book!
Funny and fun times
This is kind of a strange mash up, but I thought it worked pretty well. There's just something about combining the "proper" civility and over the top husband hunting of Pride and Prejudice with the decidedly improper brain-seeking zombie that I find amusing. When Mr. Bennett is trying to drive home the importance of an impending apocalypse due to the rapidly spreading zombie infestation and Mrs. Bennett is simultaneously worrying about finding eligible bachelors to throw her daughters at, well, I giggle.
That's pretty much the strength of the book for me. It's just all so absurd and over the top, but it never once tries to take itself seriously. Even the humor seems to be of the level of a really bad pun that is hilarious precisely because it is so horribly bad, and it knows it. I was never really laughing out loud, but I did smirk through most of it.
The action is steady, not quite as brisk as I would normally like, but never slow. Short chapters also helped to move things along. The zombies were more amusing than scary, though there were a number of pretty gross images. Think typical zombie gore with rotting flesh and easily detached appendages.
The final showdown at the end was the highlight of the book for me and the only part that really got my pulse pounding. Up until that point the zombie threat didn't seem all that threatening, but that climax really had me wondering if our heroes were going to make it out alive or if everyone was going to die (even though, yeah, obviously everyone doesn't die given this is a prequel. But it still felt like it was possible).
Is there really a story here?
One of the biggest things I wondered when I picked up this book was if it would actually have a plot that could stand on its own beyond the gimmick of inserting zombies into a classic. The fact that it was a prequel worried me even more.
I'm happy to say that Dawn of the Dreadfuls is fully able to stand on its own with a solid and original storyline that kept me entertained throughout. While the girls do learn how to slay zombies like the blurb says, the plot revolves around a lot more than just watching them practice swinging a sword.
Original characters help flesh out the cast and provide romantic interests, antagonists, and comedic relief. None of the characters, even the Austen-created characters, were very fleshed out (I'm sure there's a pun in there somewhere), but I really wasn't expecting much depth of character anyway. The Austen originals behaved pretty well in line with the Pride and Prejudice versions.
This was more fun than horror, and is best approached with mild expectations. It wasn't my favorite book ever, it didn't change my world, and it won't stay with me for years and years. But I'm glad I read it. I had fun and I would read the rest of the series (though I'm less interested in the one with Jane Austen's text and the other author. Steve Hockensmith is a big draw for me and I enjoyed his book Holmes on the Range even more than this one). Recommended if you're looking for something light and fun with zombie slaying.