Book Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – Author Steve Hockensmith

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES: DAWN OF THE DREADFULS
Written by Steve Hockensmith
Published by Quirk Classics
Publication Date: 2010
Format: B&W – 288 Pages
Price: $12.95

The zombies have returned to wreak havoc on the Bennet Family! Or, let me rephrase: the zombies have returned for Mr. Bennet, leaving the father more than eager to ready his daughters for their first bloody battle with the undead. Those who read the original monster mash-up Pride and Prejudice and Zombies know that we entered the Regency Era and followed the Bennet Family as they fought to keep their lives in a world overrun with “unmentionables” (ie, zombies). In Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls, Author Steve Hockensmith, the reader is taken to the time right before this zombie apocalypse. This prequel (not based on an original Austen work) further develops the story, as the audience is taken through the rise of the zombie nation and how the Bennet girls became the ninja warriors we knew them to be in the original.

Read on for a review of the book, as well as information on how you can win your own copy and other great prizes from Quirk Classics!

The book begins, fittingly, at a funeral:
“Walking out in the middle of a funeral would be, of course, bad form. So attempting to walk out on one’s own was beyond the pale.” And here, both the reader and the Bennet sisters are soon introduced to their first zombie, a man formally known as Mr. Ford. The Bennet sisters, being the well-mannered, respectable young ladies that they are, found themselves struck with awe, confusion, and horror, along with the rest of the community in attendance, when Mr. Ford suddenly opened his eyes and proceeded to sit up in his casket. Only one person present knew how to handle the scene at hand: Mr. Bennet. In an attempt to ready his children for what was to come, he insisted that Elizabeth chop Mr. Ford’s head off with a pair of hedge clippers. Read the novel to find out whether or not Mr. Ford was Elizabeth’s first dreadful killing!

The reader also learns in this first chapter that Mr. Ford is not the beginning of the existence of unmentionables, but rather, their return. Mr. Bennet, having been a master of the martial arts at one point in his life, had even fought the undead in a few epic battles. Now he fears the worst: the return of the living dead! In anticipation, he requests a student from is old deadly arts dojo (known as simply The Order) to be sent to instruct his children in the ways of the ninja. Soon enough, Geoffrry Hawksworth arrives; the Bennet girls learn to call him “Master.”
Read the novel to find out what happens to the Bennet girls and the training they go through to become such skilled warriors in the deadly arts, while also having to deal with rejection from their community, and even Jane’s and Elizabeth’s first loves.

I was skeptical when I first picked up this novel up: another Jane Austen spin-off? I thought Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was great, but figured all would end there. But, it soon turned into a Jane Austen obsession, first with Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, and now, PP&Z’s prequel: Dawn of the Dreadfuls. Nonetheless, I was pleasantly surprised with Dawn of the Dreadfuls and how it nicely tied into the original story. The characters all stayed true to form, in some way playing off of their development in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. For instance, Elizabeth was as steadfast and strong-willed as ever, but it is seen how her personality developed and grew with her new experience becoming a martial artist and entering into womanhood. Furthermore, Mrs. Bennet was even more extreme in her push to find her daughters proper suitors. Her actions in the prequel made me want to, figuratively speaking, take Elizabeth’s katana and chop off her mother’s head!

My favorite part of Dawn of the Dreadfuls, though, was the amplification of the living and undead interaction. Since this book was written from scratch, with no predetermined Austen story to follow, the zombies were better woven into the story, having a greater attendance and more destructive tactics. The zombies seemed much more relentless in these “beginning days” then they were during the times of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Fittingly, the Bennets were just as ruthless back: “Jane flipped down from the canopy, snatched up the battle-axe, and used all her momentum to bring the blade down into the zombie’s skull. The chop split the dreadful down the middle like a rotted-out log.”

I am happy to say that Hockensmith knocked a zombie right over the head with this one! If you liked Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, you are sure to like the prequel, as it has everything the first had to offer, just with more blood, guts, and gore. Look for the book’s release on March 23, 2010 and read more about it here: http://www.quirkclassics.com/index.php?q=dawnofthedreadfuls.

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