Brendan's Reviews > Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Steve Hockensmith
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's review
Dec 01, 10

bookshelves: 2010, adventure-thriller, fantasy, fiction, horror, humor, scifi, zombies
Read from November 29 to December 01, 2010

I enjoyed Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, as you would expect. But I considered it a one-hit wonder, an idea that was of its moment but from which it was a mistake to try and pull more material. I’m happy to say I was wrong. Steve Hockensmith had a real challenge before him to take Seth Graham-Smith’s innovations to Austen’s original and to expand the story. He did very well.

Dawn of the Dreadfuls tells of the earlier days of the Bennett family, the return of the unmentionables to England, and the story of the men who taught Elizabeth and her sisters to fight so well. We follow Elizabeth as she struggles with two suitors — a taciturn young martial arts instructor and a nearly-mad scientist — and with the undead crawling out of the ground throughout England. A few thoughts:

* As I suggest above, I expected this to be a quick knockoff with no value beyond squeezing a few more dollars from the original PP&Z hit. I was quite mistaken — Hockensmith develops his own narrative that balances nicely the needs of the original narrative, the needs of the Zed narrative layered on top, and the needs of its own story. He develops the mythology skillfully, creating a back story that helps soldifiy the chilly relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Bennett, and he makes the emergence of the zombies work very well. Perhaps most impressively, the book lays out several key points that make for interesting foreshadowing of the later story.
* The scientist makes an interesting addition to the story, representing quite clearly the Victorian version of the nearly-mad scientist in Day of the Dead, even going so far as to name the zombie chained to the wall and to take delight in its minor (and disputable) progress.
* Hockensmith crafts an excellent villain in the Lecherous Baron who spends the whole book scheming to defile the lovely and demure Jane.
* The layout, style, tone, and art of the book makes it a clear prequel to PP&Z, and presumably the later book, Dreadfully Ever After, concludes in a similar style. I could easily see this book and the latter two being satisfying in the plot order — even to someone with no interest in Austen’s original.
* Perhaps my favorite part of this book is its skillful introduction of the “deadly arts” into British high society, the suggestion that the rituals of fighting would have undermined social standing for the Bennetts, and the resolution of those issues in such a way that the stage is set for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies‘ ubiquitous acceptance of the problem.

Overall, quite enjoyable.

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