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By Steve Hockensmith
Available now from Quirk Books
My aunt and uncle bought me PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES shortly after it came out. Not for any occasion; they simply saw it and thought of me. After the novel became a hit, Steve Hockensmith took over to write a prequel. DREADFULLY EVER AFTER is the sequel and the final novel in the trilogy. I have not read the prequel, but I have read PPZ.
DREADFULLY EVER AFTER has a large advantage over the original mash-up since Hockensmith's prose does not have to directly compete with Jane Austen's. It makes for a smoother reading experience. Now, Hockensmith is no Austen, but he does weave class issues and other societal troubles into his zombie tale.
My main problem with the series is the fact that the main characters are Shaolin warriors and pal around with ninjas. I get that it's cool, but it feels so weird to me. It's too close to how Britain actually was in the 1880s. (By which I mean, obsessed with Japan, not overrun with ninjas and zombies.) It keeps pushing me out of the time period.
The story in DREADFULLY EVER AFTER picks up four years after PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES. While on a walk with Elizabeth, Mr. Darcy is bitten by a dreadful. Elizabeth, despite her pride, goes to Lady Catherine de Bourgh for help. She and her younger sister Kitty are to seduce Sir Angus MacFarquhar and his son Bunny, in order to gain access to the cure housed at Angus's hospital.
I rather liked Angus and the silly fop Bunny, which I did not expect. The characters play well off of the Bennets' tempraments in this 'verse. I was expecting them to be forced to seduce people more loathsome, so the MacFarquhars truly were a pleasant surprise.
Meanwhile, Lady Catherine is unsurprisingly trying to regain control over Darcy and put her plans for her family back into place. It's kind of amazing that she stays so much the same when other characters are greatly transformed. Also meanwhile, Jane is having a difficult pregnancy. (Which I kept forgetting about.)
There are those who loathe the concept of mash-ups. DREADFULLY EVER AFTER won't change their minds. For those who are willing to have some fun with Austen's milieu, it's a good choice. It's fast-paced and funny, if not overly faithful. I enjoyed it more than PPZ, to be honest.