Inquiring reader, Jane Austen’s World has joined many other blogs in promoting Dawn of the Dreadfuls by Steve Hockensmith, the prequel to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Quirk Books is offering the chance for you to win one of 50 Quirk Classics prize packs. To be eligible, each you must list where you read the review and post it to the Quirk Books site at this link. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls (Quirk Books; March 23, 2010; $12.95), by Steve Hockensmith, is an all-new work of fiction inspired by Jane Austen’s characters. My friend, Hillary Major, who reads more books than anyone I know, has graciously condescended to read and review the book.
A Dreadful Prequel, by Hillary Major
Before there was the Alamo, there was Netherfield Hall.
And who would you want by your side in a last stand of the living against the living dead but the sisters Bennet?
Set four years before Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Dawn of the Dreadfuls finds the Bennet siblings four years younger though already set in their ways: Jane is naively willing to see the best in everyone, Mary is sententious, Kitty a tagalong, and Lydia more lustily flirtatious than any eleven-year-old has a right to be. Elizabeth, however, finds herself at a crossroads when the long dormant undead choose to rise again only weeks before her coming out. Should she trade in her katana for an invitation to Mrs. Goswick’s ball? Should she content herself as the disciple of the handsome Master Hawksworth, her instructor in the deadly arts? Should she exercise her intellect by joining the Dr. Keckilpenny on his quest to re-educate the undead?
The Austen fan will be able to guess Lizzie’s decision long before the gathering zombies (that is to say, the unfortunate encroachments of certain unmentionables) make its outcome a matter of life and death.
Though Steve Hockensmith’s novel boasts only a dozen illustrations (illuminating such heartwarming scenes as an unmentionable “hump[ing] its way toward Mary like a massive, rabid inchworm”), the book is in many ways a cartoon. There’s a bumbling villain in the person of the portly and lascivious Lord Lumpley, who owns Netherfield Hall and fancies himself Hertfordshire’s version of the Prince Regent. (He also fancies Jane Bennet.) There’s a plenitude of martial arts as Mr. Bennet shares his past as a student of Shaolin and reveals that Mrs. Bennet’s flower shed was always intended to be the family dojo. Perhaps the most amusing twist of all comes when Mrs. Bennet’s lost love comes back into her life. Unfortunately, Captain Cannon finds himself rather diminished from his former glory…
Dawn of the Dreadfuls isn’t a thriller. We know the Bennet siblings will survive and go on to meet their Darcys, Binghams, and Wickhams. What, then, kept me turning the pages of this Quirk Classic? Could it be that (like Elizabeth, who defiantly uses the “z-word” even in company), I was simply fascinated by Hockensmith’s embrace of the vulgar, drawn in to walk the fine the line between the absurd and obscene?
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls, the third Quirk Classic, comes with illustrations from artist Patrick Arrasmith.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls will be available for purchase on March 23, 2010
Published by Quirk Books
Paperback, $12.95, 288 pages