Zombies, or to use the tasteful Regency English term, dreadfuls, seem to have captured the imagination of technical professionals. I don't think I've ever spent more than a couple days in an IT shop with a casual dress code without seeing a zombie related t-shirt, for instance. Recently, zombie mania has joined the literary world with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austin and Seth Grahame-Smith. While this book may not yet be among the cannon of must-read literature for geeks, familiarity with the concept is. Imagine if you will, dear reader, that Jane Austin's England is subject to a veritable plague of zombies and the Bennet girls, much to their dear mama's dismay are zombie warriors.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls by Steve Hockensmith is the prequel to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. It shows how the problems with the dreadfuls in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies start and reveals the training and experiences that turn the Bennet girls from hopeful debutantes to hopeful debutante zombie warriors. Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorite novels and I found some of the revelations (or perhaps suppositions would be a better word) as to what formed Mrs. Bennet's rather shallow personality fixated on status and marrying off her daughters to the most eligible parte possible at the expense of all else extremely satisfying, even if some of them were more worldly than Jane Austin would have dared to consider.
Dawn of the Dreadfuls is a very enjoyable read and unlike many prequels, particularly those by other authors, does not feel derivative at all. While I think I found it more enjoyable because of my familiarity with the characters, I believe it stands well on its own as well. Since I know many readers are a stickler for accuracy, I must point out that there are a couple of inconsistencies with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. For instance, according to the back cover text, Dawn of the Dreadfuls takes place four years prior to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. (The only date element given in the text is Elizabeth's interrupted coming out.) In either case, it does not allow sufficient time for the multiple prior trips to the east mentioned in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. On the other hand, I find it hard to believe that so much traveling would have left the characters, particularly Mrs. Bennet and the younger girls with anything approaching the personalities given them by Miss Austen, so I think this was a worthwhile departure on Hockensmith's part.
I really enjoyed Dawn of the Dreadfuls and appreciate the opportunity Quirk Classics gave me to read it before everyone else for giving me a prepublication copy. If you like zombies or Jane Austin, I'd highly recommend it. While it may not qualify as literature like the original classic Pride and Prejudice, it's a fun read that provides a fuller picture of the Bennets as well as a fun zombie romp.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls at Amazon.com
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance - Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem! at Amazon.com
The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead at Amazon.com
Jane Austen Page at Amazon.com
Quirk Classics' Dawn of the Dreadfuls page