Monday, December 15, 2014

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: A Penny Dreadful Review

            A Steampunk in possession of books is always in need of more books. In this review, I give you three: the apogee of the mash-up genre and the two companions it spawned. I loved them all, and they live in a cherished spot on my bookshelf. Gentles, I give you Pride and Prejudice and Zombies!
            The work of -  either genius or a sick, sick mind -  that started a craze for mash-ups came out in 2009, penned by Jane Austen with some adjustments by Seth Grahame-Smith. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a bit like marmite. The reader is either delighted or disgusted. Personally, I was delighted. I think that the Bennett sisters make excellent warriors and that giving Lady Catherine an army of ninjas was a stroke of genius. True, it isn’t always the most seamless of combinations, but it is a good deal of fun. I have read other mash-ups that don’t execute their concept as well as this one. For example, I read a treatment of Tom Sawyer that was identical to the original except for a few hints of zombie infestation. Nothing nearly as transformative as this book. That transformation is where the real charm lies. That and the illustrations. I find the included woodcuts of the Bennett sisters overcoming zombies (and ninjas) to be quite satisfying.
            Following the odd and unexpected success of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, a prequel was born called Dawn of the Dreadfuls. It is precisely what it sounds like – the story of the Bennett sisters’ early training and early romantic entanglements. What, you thought Mr. Bingley the first man to notice Jane’s charms? Come, now. The style of Dawn of the Dreadfuls does mirror Miss Austen’s prose, yet Steve Hockensmith is allowed much more freedom since his prose does not have to mesh directly with her words. He is an excellent storyteller, and this book is quite good. Any title I return to contains a fascinating world, and I have re-read this one twice.
            Recently, I ran across Dreadfully Ever After in a shop. Before I quite knew what was happening, I’d bought it and read the first three chapters. It is a satisfying conclusion to this trilogy (if it really is a trilogy….) and provides a hope for the cure of the dread plague. I was quite delighted at the way things turned out, especially for the sisters that made it through Pride and Prejudice unwed.
            Is this a perfect series? No. There are a few inconsistencies between the books and the timeline of the backstory is a bit muddy. This is not designed to be a thinking series, so I ignored all minor contradictions in the interest of enjoying myself.
            How do I rate this series? I give Pride and Prejudice and Zombies three and a half gears out of five, and the other two get four gears out of five. That gives me an average with an awkward decimal in it, so I shall just award the series four gears out of five and be done with the calculation. I suggest you try the series for yourself.


Your Correspondent From The Bookstore,

Penny J. Merriweather