Friday, July 09, 2010

"Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls" by Steve Hockensmith

"Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls"
by Steve Hockensmith
read by Katherine Kellgren
produced by Brilliance Audio
approx 9 hours

So you've read "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith, what next? I highly suggest following up with this novel, the prequel. The zombie smashing mashup that mixed the undead with Victorian primness was hilarious and yet a bit educational. Sure you were reading about zombies, but by golly, Jane Austen's classic was still in there so you got some culture. This time around, though, there is no classic literature involved. I will give you a heads up in that this book still captures some of that same mood and writing involved in Jane Austen's style. This time around there is a lot more humor. I know, humor and zombies, what is he talking about? Trust me, there are many laugh out loud moments.

Let me first give the proper praises to the reader, Katherine Kellgren. She read/performed this book with the same Victorian delivery, trying to keep the culture in the story telling, but when it came to zombie howls and moans and the Bennet sisters' battle cry, she delivered with uncanny realism. So while listening you feel high-brow until the carnage begins and the battles roar.

Basically in the first book we learned that England has been over run by zombies, or rather the "unmentionables," because no proper English person would ever speak the "Z" word. The Bennett sisters have been trained, like their father, in the "Deadly Arts." They were trained int the fashion of Shaolin monks, with skills in the martial arts, katanas, nun-chuks, and throwing stars, in order to defeat the undead scourge sweeping the country. In this prequel we learn not only the hows but the whys of their training and of their prejudices in finding suitable men to marry.

As the book opens the Bennett family is attending the funeral of a friend. All is quiet and solemn until the deceased rises from his coffin and begins to moan. Mr. Bennett, having fought the undead in the previous war, knows what is happening and more importantly knows what must be done. Ushering everyone, except his two oldest daughters out of the church, Mr. Bennett then begins the process of separating the unmentionable from his head. However he has his daughters do the dirty work so they can begin to be trained in what must be done because the zombies have returned.

Returning home from the funeral and beheading of the zombie, Mr. Bennett reclaims his Dojo (Mrs. Bennett has turned it into a gardening shed, hanging tools from the various swords and arsenal), and begins the Bennett girls' training in the Deadly Arts. At this time he also alerts the nearest officials that the zombies are back, and sends word back to his master that he needs someone to train his daughters.

This book is full of fun and zombie smashing once the troops arrive. The troops are all very young boys led by a recently promoted captain who has no arms or legs. To make up for the lack of appendages he is wheeled around by some soldiers referred to as "Limbs." When he needs to shake someone's hand he orders, "Right Limb, shake that man's hand." This creates many comical moments. It also seems that the Captain and Mrs. Bennett have a history that works in some more fun. The troops are accompanied by a mad scientist. This mad scientist is out to catch a zombie and try to turn him back into a proper Englishman.

The Bennett sisters begin their training once the Master arrives from the Far East, and during their training sessions there is more hilarity, especially having to deal with the different personalities of the sisters.

The book leads up to Elizabeth Bennett's coming out ball and a zombie invasion in which they all seem to be doomed. But knowing that this is a PREQUEL, you know the important characters survive, but you will be on the edge of your seat while listening to this supremely funny horror classic. I would have to say that this book is more fun than the first book but keep in mind the first one was a mashup in which Jane Austen's writing was the basis.

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