“You think me a prig,” Lt. Tindall said rather ruefully. “But what I am is a soldier who loves his country. Its traditions. Its values. Everything it stands for. And if we destroy the unmentionables but allow them to destroy all that — including our ideal of genteel English womanhood — can we truly say we've won?”
“Yes,” Elizabeth said, pleased to throw the word back in the lieutenant's face with certitude equal to his own. “And if you preserve genteel English womanhood while serving up genteel English women as so much steak tartare, I would say that you have most definitely lost.”
Dawn of the Dreadfuls is technically a prequel to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, giving us the story of how the Bennett family came to be the people we met therein. It shows the first return of the unmentionables to Meryton, and the beginnings of the deadly martial arts training of the Bennett girls. We also get hints of romance, with two suitors each for Jane and Elizabeth.
The writer does an excellent job creating younger, more innocent versions of the Bennett girls and he does equally well in showing their growth. We meet a young Elizabeth Bennett who's still smart and feisty, but who is much more open to romance than she would become. And we see the hopes and disappointments that led to her mistrust in love.
We learn more of Mr. Bennett and the first invasion of the unmentionables, and we see a new side of the impossible Mrs. Bennett. But Hockensmith is especially adept at creating the foppish, stupid, arrogant, and downright evil people who look down on the Bennetts, especially Elizabeth.
I never imagined just how satisfying it would be to see all of those stuck-up, classist, horrible, horrible people eaten by zombies. I know my high school English classes would have been a lot more fun (and more people would have paid attention) with a judicious application of zombies. If Hockensmith can figure out a way to off Heathcliff and Catherine in this same delightfully gross way, I might just ask him to marry me.
The writing style is just as dead-on as in the first book, so if it gave you troubles there, it's likely to do so again. But the rewards of the story itself are worth the effort.
If you liked Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, by all means give this one a look. But if you didn't read it, even if you never read Jane Austen in your life, if you like your stories full of action, romance and a dark sense of humor, you'll enjoy this tale of love and zombies.
If you'd like to see for yourself, the book comes out March 23 (a few weeks from now, at this writing). Buy links are at the sites above. Go to the the message board at QuirkClassics.com and post about the book and where you read the review. Participants are automatically entered to win one of 50 Quirk Classics Prize Packs, which include:
• An advance copy of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls
• Audio books of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters
• A password redeemable online for sample audio chapters of Dawn of the Dreadfuls
• An awesome Dawn of the Dreadfuls poster
• A Pride and Prejudice and Zombies journal
• A set of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies postcards