Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After
As a kid who reveled in the classics and all things science fiction, the mash up genre is pretty much made for me. I read Little Women, Pride and Prejudice, and Sense and Sensibility over and over again during the summer holidays of my childhood. My favorite mash ups thus far have been those involving the Pride and Prejudice universe. Primarily because they took women who were already rare for their era (at least Elizabeth was) and made them completely bad ass. Mary, who was the character I used to loathe due to her blathering on about religion and piety, becomes a Shaolin master who kicks ass, literally. Don’t even get me started on Elizabeth. She was always my favorite character in this universe, the one I could most easily identify with, and adding zombies and a katana only increased my affection for her.
Now, to this book, the plot:
Elizabeth and Darcy have been married for four years now. After a visit to Jane and Mr. Bingley, Elizabeth and Darcy are walking back to Pemberley when the youngest son of Darcy’s steward stumbles out of the undergrowth. Distracted by the conversation he had just been having, Darcy bends down to greet the child, failing to notice the gray pallor of his skin and the awkward angle of his neck. Before any of that could register the fresh zombie child sinks his teeth deeply into Darcy’s neck. After a second’s disbelief, Elizabeth dispatches the child, whipping it around in a circle until its head is vaporized by a tree trunk. Seeking any means of saving Darcy, Elizabeth swallows her pride (ironic given the source material) and contacts Lady Catherine de Bourgh, knowing that she has a means of putting off the onset of the dreadful change. Lady Catherine, of course, seizes the opportunity to humiliate Elizabeth and the Bennets. She orders her to London where she is to seduce the Scottish doctor, the only person known to have a cure for being bit.
I’m not sure if this book really qualifies as a mash up, since it’s not really the addition of new material into classic literature. It’s more of a use of pre-existing characters in completely original material. Regardless of the technicalities, I f@&king loved it. More opportunity to see the Bennet sisters kick some ass? Yes please. I will happily read that every time. This book doesn’t disappoint.
In fact, it furthered my affection for the family. There isn’t a whole lot mentioned of Mrs. Bennet who I cannot stand, with her nerves and her loudness. But, you guys, Kitty steals the show. Prior to this book, I had always relegated her to the silly girl category, but without Lydia (who I loathe almost as much as Mrs. Bennet) she grows into a Valkyrie. She’s strong and confident, yes, but she carries a hint of the silly girl she used to be. This is why I love these books; they make it so that I love characters for who previously I had felt only ambivalence and one who I sincerely hated. Though I will say, in this book in particular, Anne remains as repulsive and untrustworthy as always. She doesn’t simper anymore, but I found myself viewing all of her actions with a distinct lack of trust. There’s something deceitful there just under the surface and I found myself holding out, knowing that she was up to something.
Okay, enough about the characters. The story is magnificent. There was only one place that it got a little slow, but that literally only lasted for two pages and it’s somewhat nullified by the biggest zombie incursion ever to take place. Hockensmith does a great job of maintaining the tension by flipping between the Darcy storyline and the Elizabeth storyline. We’re shown Darcy just trying to maintain as a human, waiting for some word from Elizabeth, counterbalanced by Elizabeth in London with Kitty and her father, trying to seduce the doctor who created a cure to a zombie bite. Every time you get comfortable following one storyline, Hockensmith flips to the other. It’s not jarring at all. It mostly just serves as a reminder that the Bennets are being forced to play a game and it’s truly life or death.
The story is entirely entertaining with tons of zombie slaughtering fun for the whole family (or sometimes of the whole family). 4 ink bottles. Not exactly the high literature that generated the characters, but many would argue a whole hell of a lot more exciting.