The Only Austen Sequel Worth Reading: Cassie-la Reviews “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After” by Steve Hockensmith

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After by Steve Hockensmith (Advanced Reader Copy)
Release Date
: March 22, 2011
Genre
: Fiction, horror, humor, parody, zombies, best sequel to a mash-up of all time
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Summary: This sequel to surprise bestseller Pride and Prejudice and Zombies finds Elizabeth Darcy née Bennet in a marriage lacking in zombie killing. That is until her swoon-worthy husband Fitzwilliam Darcy is infected by an unmentionable and she’s thrown into the warrior lifestyle once again.

With the help of her father and her younger sisters Kitty and Mary, Elizabeth is in a race against the virus to find a mysterious antidote in London. Will she save her Mr. Darcy, or will he be doomed to spend the rest of his life as the sexiest literary zombie of all time?

I thought it couldn’t be possible to make Pride and Prejudice and Zombies into a trilogy without Jane Austen. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I immediately realised this when I picked up Steve Hockensmith’s prequel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls which deals with the Bennet sisters training in the Deadly Arts and zombie slaying. It also deals with lots of ninjas.

The book was good, but it was missing one thing: Mr. Darcy. Thankfully Dreadfully Ever After features him in spades, although he has a tendency to have fevered dreams involving blood pudding and Lizzie’s intestines.

Dreadfully Ever After is set a four years after Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, briefly touching upon Jane and Bingley’s wedded bliss (specifically their extreme fecundity) and Elizabeth’s dissatisfaction with her wife-ly duties (mainly, putting aside her katana). Kitty is equally unhappy, with her mother having married off three children and suddenly no longer caring about the future of the other two. Mary is the same old Mary with her nose stuck in a book, and Lydia is mentioned only in passing as being an errant whore who has children that most likely don’t belong to Wickham. Suffice it to say, everyone is pretty true to character.

Unlike the other books, which deal with Elizabeth and Jane, Hockensmith focuses this story on the lesser understood/explored characters, specifically Kitty, Mary, and Mr. Darcy. Albeit zombie-esque Mr. Darcy. He’s a little bit cannibalistic and a little bit sexy.

Without the silly influence of Lydia, Kitty is much less vapid, and only occasionally spouts “La!” after every joking remark she makes. She is charged with the task of seducing socialite Bunny MacFarquhar, whose father Angus runs the Bedlam Royal Hospital, rumored to hold a cure for zombiesm. For some reason I much preferred when the story focused on Kitty, partly because of her decision to become more of a strong female character, partly because of her adorable love story with Lady Catherine’s ninja Nezu, and partly because I kept imagining her as Kitty Pryde minus Lockheed.

Mary is her usual intellectual self, and is constantly touting Mary Wollstonecraft, women’s rights activist and mother of Frankenstein author Mary Shelley. Rather than seducing socialites to gain access to the cure like Elizabeth and Kitty, Mary uses her brains and subterfuge to enter Bedlam. Like Kitty, she is also thrust into a romantic relationship, albeit with a limbless man living inside a box pulled by two well trained dogs. If you read Dawn of the Dreadfuls, you will most certainly remember this blast from the Bennet past. If not, you’re in for a twist, thankfully not of the M. Night Shyamalan kind.

Finally, there is Mr. Darcy (which you must say with a British accent for the pronunciation to be 100% effective). After Darcy is bitten, we begin to learn the inner-workings of his mind as well as that of an unmentionable. He gains an insatiable urge for raw meat, is able to walk among zombies without fear (while simultaneously pretending to be a tree a la the wood coming to Dunsinane), and can see the life force of objects. It is revealed that zombies see everything in a dull gray color, except for things with a strong life force, which is visible as a glowing bright light. For some reason, cabbage has this same life force, although it is never explained why. Just as it is never explained why Bunny has a pet rabbit named Brummel who has an affinity for dressing like a dandy.

Despite the fact that the story no longer features the words of Austen, Hockensmith still focuses his narrative on the subjugation of women. Elizabeth is torn between her duties as a wife and her desire to chop off zombie heads, Kitty wants to strike up romance with a ninja despite it being taboo, and Mary has a thing for agoraphobic quadriplegics that can’t be brought home to Mom. Their foil is the frightening Lady Catherine de Bourgh, who after beheading her husband is able to kill unmentionables without shame, and gains the freedom that most Regency era women in Austen novels seem to desire. The same can be said for her daughter Anne, who due to a mysterious affliction is able to represent alienated girls everywhere as the first mall goth of her time.

The only downfall of the novel are the illustrations, which seem even worse than they were in Dawn of the Dreadfuls. All the Bennet girls look like old women, and occasionally old men. The woodcut style is not flattering in any way, and the artist seems to have a lot of trouble figuring out perspective. As with the prequel illustrations, all the characters are drawn with giant torsos and small legs. Thankfully, the remaining Quirk Classics are not cursed with hideous looking women and diminutive legged men.

THE GOOD:
-Brain and vegetable munching zombies
-Fast paced story, fun, easy read full of laughs and gasps
-Get to learn more about Kitty, Mary, Mr. Darcy, and the inner-working of the zombie mind
-A brief scene in which fops and dandies get into an altercation

THE BAD:
-Awful artwork detracts from the story
-Georgiana Darcy seems to be a useless, throw-away character

One way that indie publisher Quirk Books markets their series Quirk Classics is through incredibly enticing book trailers. While they tend to stray from the source material slightly as in the Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters trailer, and less slightly in the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls trailer, they are enjoyable AND well-made nonetheless. Hard to find in most book trailers.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After Book Trailer

Don’t let all the mist fool you, this isn’t the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows epilogue.

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