“Z” Day Celebrations Begin with Dreadfully Ever After, by Steve Hockensmith – & a Giveaway!

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After, by Steve Hockensmith (2011) 200 x 307Welcome to “Z” Day here at Austenprose, the start of open season on zombies in the Jane Austen universe!

In honor of the launch today of Dreadfully Ever After, the third installment in the world-wide sensation Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, we are celebrating “Z” Day with a contest and tons of giveaways. Yes, gentle readers. The zombies are among us again and invading “our” Jane Austen.

Since we were the first blogger to even notice P&P&Z in 2009, before it ever became an international sensation spawning an entire franchise of mash-up books, we thought it only fitting that we wave the flag for the third book in the trilogy, Dreadfully Ever After. It is not a mash-up like Seth Grahame-Smith’s P&P&Z, but a new original novel written by Steve Hockensmith, the same author who brought us the prequel Dawn of the Dreadfuls last year. Here is a blurb from the publisher:

When we last saw Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy—at the end of the New York Times best seller Pride and Prejudice and Zombies—they were preparing for a lifetime of wedded bliss. Yet the honeymoon has barely begun when poor Mr. Darcy is nipped by a rampaging dreadful. Elizabeth knows the only acceptable course of action is to promptly behead her husband (and then burn the corpse, just to be safe). But when she learns of a miracle antidote being developed in London, she realizes there may be one last chance to save her true love—and for everyone to live happily ever after.

Complete with romance, heartbreak, martial arts, cannibalism, and an army of shambling corpses, Dreadfully Ever After brings the story of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies to a thrilling conclusion.

The good folks at Quirk Books have been so generous in sending us zombie stuff in attempt (one assumes) to woo our black Janeite heart into submission, that we wanted to share some of the loot with our readers. So in honor of “Z” Day, and the beginning of open season on zombies, we are offering a banquet of unmentionable goodies. Continue reading

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Graphic Novel, adapted by Tony Lee and Illustrated by Cliff Richards – A Review

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Graphic Novel, adapted by Tony Lee and Illustrated by Cliff Richards (2010)Guest review by Kimberly Denny-Ryder of Reflections of a Book Addict

Who would have ever thought that adding zombies to a classic novel like Pride and Prejudice would create the literary mash-up phenomenon? It started in 2009 when Seth Grahame-Smith took Jane Austen’s original work and mashed it together with flesh eating zombies. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has since spawned a graphic novel, a prequel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls, soon to be released sequel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After, and a movie adaptation is in production.

The storyline in the graphic novel edition has been adapted by Tony Lee from the Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith original. Regency England has become overridden with zombies, or unmentionables, and Elizabeth Bennet and her four sisters have each been trained in the “deadly arts,” a combination of both ninja skills and martial arts training, to fight off the maraudring hordes. Due to their father’s previous training in the “deadly arts”, the Bennet sisters are well known for being the fiercest and bravest zombie warriors in the Meryton area.

Illustrations by Cliff Richards for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Graphic Novel (2010)

Following the classic plot of Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Bingley, a single man in possession of a good fortune moves into the area sending the Bennet household into an uproar. Mrs. Bennet has five unmarried daughters and has designs upon him marrying one of them. Bingley is introduced along with his sisters and good friend Fitzwilliam Darcy to the Bennet family at a local Assembly ball.  Bingley dances several times with Jane Bennet, encouraging Darcy to enjoy the ball and dance with her younger sister Elizabeth. Darcy, not wanting to mix with the local gentry, tells Bingley that Elizabeth is “not handsome enough to tempt me.” Elizabeth overhears Darcy’s reaction and instantly decides that he is the most arrogant man she’s ever met and that she must kill him to revenge her honor. His life is saved only by the zombie attack that occurs at the ball. Elizabeth and her sisters save the townspeople by forming their pentagram of death and killing all of the attacking unmentionables. As Darcy sees them fighting, he notices Elizabeth’s stellar skills and begins to look at her in a different way.

Illustrations by Cliff Richards for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Graphic Novel (2010)

Throughout the rest of their acquaintance in Meryton, Darcy continues to look at her more and more in a positive light and begins falling in love with her. This is all unbeknownst to Elizabeth who still looks upon Darcy with contempt. The plot continues to play out similarly to the original with Darcy separating Bingley from Jane due to her inappropriate family, cousin and heir to Longbourn Mr. Collins arriving, Elizabeth rejecting his proposal, Charlotte in turn accepting him, Elizabeth’s trip to Kent, and Darcy’s failed proposal to her, etc. The elements of Austen’s story are all still there, only the added in zombie-killing action sequences have been added.

While the illustrations in the graphic novel are well drawn, it was a bit confusing trying to figure out who was who. The artwork is in black and white, so in scenes with lots of dialogue, it was confusing to figure out who is saying what.  As the novel progresses however, it’s easier to follow since the character list drops to just major characters only. I would have liked to have seen color illustrations in this graphic novel edition. I think it would have brought a different element to the zombie attack scenes. The lack of color made me feel like I was reading a newspaper comic rather than a graphic novel.

Illustrations by Cliff Richards for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Graphic Novel (2010)

The difficulty in following the character dialogue caused me to dislike the first half of the graphic novel. Once the plot picked up, and it was easier to follow the action, I found that I actually enjoyed it more. The mashed-up plot is an incredibly creative story that is a really interesting juxtaposition between ninjas, zombies, martial arts and Regency England. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: the Graphic Novel is an imaginative way to get more people to read classic novels, albeit not in their original context. Regardless, it is still making people check out the classics, which is very exciting.

This book is definitely not for the Austen purists out there. The story is liberally changed to make Lizzy an intense warrior, Lady Catherine the foremost zombie killer in all of England, and Charlotte Lucas into an unmentionable, just to name a few. For those willing to see a creative change in Jane Austen’s classic work, check it out, but do prepared for some gory, bloody bits!

3 out of 5 Regency Stars

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Graphic Novel, by Jane Austen, Seth Grahame-Smith, adapted by Tony Lee and illustrated by Cliff Richards
Random House Publishing Group (2010)
Paperback (176) pages
ISBN: 978-0345520685

2007 – 2011 Kimberly Denny-Ryder, Austenprose

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After (the sequel), by Steve Hockensmith

More zombies in our Jane Austen.

Rising from the grave (yet again) is the next installment in the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies franchise, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After, by Steve Hockensmith. Due out in March 2011, this sequel to the bestselling Jane Austen and Seth Grahame Smith literary mash-up Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2009) will be the third and final book in the PPZ trilogy. Also written by Steve Hockensmith, it follows his 2010 prequel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls released this last Spring.

Description from the publisher:

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and its prequel, Dawn of the Dreadfuls, were both New York Times best sellers, with a combined 1.3 million copies in print. Now the PPZ trilogy comes to a thrilling conclusion with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After.

The story opens with our newly married protagonists, Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy, defending their village from an army of flesh-eating “unmentionables.” But the honeymoon has barely begun when poor Mr. Darcy is nipped by a rampaging dreadful. Elizabeth knows the proper course of action is to promptly behead her husband (and then burn the corpse, just to be safe). But when she learns of a miracle antidote under development in London, she realizes there may be one last chance to save her true love—and for everyone to live happily ever after.

OK. Why do I question the bit about this being the last book in the trilogy??? Cuz…this is a zombie book, and the franchise will always be undead.

OMG! The cover of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After has eaten the cover of Emma and Knightley, by Rachel Billington (2008)! Zombies are now cannibalizing sequel covers too! Continue reading

Dawn of the Dreadfuls, by Steve Hockensmith – A Janeite Review

If you have not heard about the book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, you must be from another planet. The break-out best seller of 2009 (and soon to be a major motion picture starring Natalie Portman) took the publishing industry quite unawares making its co-author Seth Grahame-Smith a hot property, oodles of publicity for its publisher Quirk Books and mega moola for all involved. Who’da thought combining Jane Austen’s genteel Regency-era novel and bone-crunching zombie mayhem would create the literary mash-up genre and spawn a plethora of knock-offs using Austen novels and other classic authors in an attempt to cash in on the craze. I will admit the original novel was fresh and funny but the publicity it received was way out of proportion to its merits. Now its prequel Dawn of the Dreadfuls has risen from its grave placing the story four years before we first met Elizabeth Bennet, Mr. Darcy and the maraudring horde of unmentionables invading Meryton, Hertfordshire. Well — of course we need to know how the plague began and why the Bennet sisters are trained ninja warriors battling the sorry stricken. *Ahem*

While attending the funeral of a neighbor, Mr. Oscar Bennet, his wife and five young daughters witness the corpse return from the dead and attempt to attack the congregation. The unmentionables have returned after being vanquished for several years and Mr. Bennet a former ninja zombie slayer must train his daughters in the deadly arts to defend themselves and exterminate the scourge of sorry stricken who are among them again. He immediately sets about training his daughters who resist at first and flounder about with weapons and mild battle cries: ““Haaiieee!” said Jane. “Hiiyaaa!” said Mary. “Hooyaah!” said Kitty. “La!” said Lydia.” Shortly after a Master ninja warrior arrives to take over and all the girls are smitten with the young and handsome Jeffery Hawksworth. Lizzy has the most potential, but gradually they all learn and begin hunting in the neighborhood for the zed word (young ladies do not say zombies in polite society), meet others who have come to Meryton to engage the enemy, are ostracized by the community because young ladies do not kill unmentionables, kiss a deer, have romantic feelings for some of the young gentleman, and fight an epic battle. Along the way we are dished out a hefty dose of campy comedy, discover how dreadfuls sprout from the grave and witness enough rotten flesh, goo, gore and killing to appease any thirteen-year-old boy who hates to read. La!

The plot is “stoopid” but it is meant to be. This is a zombie book with Jane Austen characters in it, not a Jane Austen novel with zombies mashed into it as we previously experienced in P&P&Z. (no defense implied) On the upside, Hockensmith does get many of Austen’s character traits correct: Mrs. Bennet wines, wails and waves her lace hankie, Jane Bennet is beautiful and biddable, Mary is blossoming into an insipid moralizer, Kitty coughs and follows Lydia’s lead, and Lydia is the most precocious eleven year old going on twenty-five that you could ever wish to meet. Our heroine in the making Elizabeth is spirited, intelligent and as fierce with her tongue as she is with her weapons. We do get more back story on why Mr. Bennet takes action and converts his daughters from genteel young ladies into ninja warriors. His character is the most altered from Austen’s original negligent father who lives in his library in order to tolerate his harpy wife and that was a challenge for me, among other things.

The new characters add animation (in the cartoonish sense) to the narrative and are all caricatures atypical in a wacky Monte Python skit: Lord Lumpley the lascivious aristocrat who lusts after beautiful Jane Bennet, the mutton-chopped Capt Cannon who has survived multiple amputations from battling unmentionables and must be transported about in a wheelbarrow assisted by his aids who act as his limbs, Dr. Bertram Keckilpenny the eccentric doctor/Sherlock Holmes who wants to study zombies so he can cure the “unmentionable plague”,  the handsome ninja Master Jeffrey Hawksworth who teaches the Bennet girls the deadly arts and falls for his best student Elizabeth, dashing Lieutenant Tindall who ignites Lydia and Kitty’s passions for officers in red uniforms and many more. (unfortunately no lumberjacks) The downside, it is all pretty predictable fare. However, I will commend Hockensmith on his skilled wordmanship and cleverly crafted prose. He has captured the flavor of Austen’s novel with Regency-era words and phrases that are not too dense and intimidating for his target audience who complained that P&P&Z had too much Austen in it, and he has certainly squelched their objections to not having enough zombie action. I found that reading this novel made my head hurt after an accident so I listened to an audiobook recording read by Katherine Kellgren which made it much more palatable — except for the girls shrieking warrior cries which blew off my mob cap, startled my cats and interrupted my knitting. If movie producers like P&P&Z, they will love the easily adapted plot of DOTD into animated movie.

Did I like it you ask? Well, sort of. As previously highlighted the author is an accomplished writer who gave it his all. Some of the inside P&P humor made me chortle. If you love zombie grossness, than I recommend it highly. If you love Jane Austen, “I am afraid that the pleasantness of an employment does not always evince its propriety.”

3 out of 5 Regency Stars

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls, by Steve Hockensmith
Quirk Books, Philadelphia (2010)
Trade Paperback (287) pages
ISBN: 9781594744549

Additional Reviews

 

A Bookselling Moment with Dawn of the Dreadfuls, or a Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Emergency Room

Happy Easter everyone. I received my Easter egg a day early. It is sitting on top of my head and is not the chocolate variety. Add to that a nice shiner and I feel quite the proper street ruffian.

I joke about my enthusiasm to sell Jane Austen to the masses at my job at Barnes & Noble, but I never thought it would be extended to such lengths, nor be quite so dangerous. In the midst of a busy pre-holiday Saturday rush, a heavy roll-up window blind and metal fascia board decided to take a “spring break” when summoned to descend from its usual abode above a large window and landed on my head with a big crash. Ouch. My kind and cautious manager Cate called the EMT squad who promptly arrived to assess my war wounds. Off to the emergency room I would go, but not without my purse and more importantly my current book to be reviewed on my blog next week.

A funny thing happened on the way to the emergency room. The EMT guy Dwayne was quite a chatterbox and proceeded to tell me everything he and his family have read or are presently reading and pumped me for new book suggestions!!! Ever the diligent book seller, I figured I was still on the company time clock and should sell books even while laid out on a stretcher on the way to the emergency room. He asked me what I was reading. I hesitated, and then asked him if he knew about Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? YES! He was a zombie fan and his wife loved that P&P miniseries with Mr. Darcy jumping into a lake. (I secretly smile. Jane is indeed everywhere. Even in an ambulance!) As my head is pounding I tell him I am reading Dawn of the Dreadfuls, the prequel to P&P&Z. He gets all excited and wants the rundown on the zombie books. Oh Lord! I was not quite up to my usual enthusiastic Austen car salesman self and told him I would be happy to offer book suggestions and the scoop on the P&P zombie craze if he wanted to visit me at the store next week. Who’da thought?

We arrive at the hospital and they wheel me into the emergency room. On the way to my room, which took some expert driving through the narrow corridors, we rounded a tight corner and my purse tipped over spilling Dawn of Dreadfuls onto the floor. The nurse picks it up and asks, “Oh! Isn’t this that Austen zombie book?” I nod in amazement. When the doctor finally arrived I was certain that his questions would be: where does it hurt, is your vision blurry and which Austen character do you think is most deserving of being eaten by a zombie?

Never a dull moment in the Austen book selling trenches.