Pop Culture Princess

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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

The Jane Austen Monster Mash continues with Dawn of the Dreadfuls

After the immediate success of Pride & Prejudice & Zombies,the good folks at Quirk Classics took heed of the need for a sequel from their thrilled fan base and commissioned Steve Hockensmith to write a prequel with a very zombie lover friendly title.

Dawn of the Dreadfuls takes place in the early days of the unmentionables' uprising in Regency England and particularly at Meryton,where the two eldest Bennet daughters,Jane and Elizabeth,are due to be presented to society at their first ball,much to the delight of their eager to marry them off mother and silly younger sisters,Lydia and Kitty.

While the whole family attends a local funeral,the unexpected contribution to the event by the recently deceased alerts Mr. Bennet into taking action and calling upon his children to start learning the deadly arts of defense in order to protect their home and country from the surge of the sorry stricken which has fallen upon their homeland yet again:

Mr. Bennet is all too familiar with fighting off zombie hordes as he was a well respected warrior when the Troubles first began in England and put down his sword after they were deemed to be over and started a family.

With the appearance of more of the dreadfuls in their neighborhood,Mr. Bennet is determined to make up for neglecting the training of his daughters,so he accepts the young teacher sent to him by his former Order in order to make up for lost time.

Master Hawksworth is very strident in his training,even on Mr. Bennet himself,but he is soon both impressed and intrigued by Elizabeth's natural warrior instincts and determination to prepare herself for the looming threat of the living dead.

Lizzy does take to her training well but is also wondering if she is starting to feel more than respect for her Master(who her sister Mary has a bit of a crush on as well) while befriending the odd Dr. Keckilpenny and observing his "scientific" approaches to combat the dreaded Zed. More than one battlefield is in turmoil for Elizabeth which threaten both her head and heart,in some cases quite literally:

Lizzy isn't the only one given amorous distractions from her duties;Jane is receiving most unwanted attentions from Lord Lumpley,the nearby Baron who wishes not to have the unmentionables upset his steady routine of seductions and snobbery and the quietly ardent admiration of Lt. Tindall,who has come to their shire with a small militia led by limbless Capt. Cannon,a former suitor of Mrs. Bennet's that takes every opportunity to enjoy her company.

The tone of DOD is very different from PP&Z,not only due to the change of authors but the fact that this story is not a merger of Jane Austen's classic work with all new material but an original story based on an Austen reimaging. That makes Dawn of the Dreadfuls more of an Austen inspired work,which has a whole different set of standards to judge it by.

The advantage of an Austen inspired book from a reimagined one is that more leeway is granted in creating new characters and original subplots that allow the already established ones to go down rather offbeat paths that should,nonetheless,feel right to faithful readers. Since DOD takes off from an alternate Austen universe to begin with,holding yourself back from the pleasure of enjoying another Regency zombie party by any doubts about how this all adds up to Austen at the end is as silly as listening to one of Mrs. Bennet's rants about her nerves.

Dawn of the Dreadfuls is a gloriously gruesome romp that gives you a great excuse to reread PP&Z and indulge yourself in Jane Austen zombie delights. The book will be out on March 23 but if you want a chance at winning a free copy before then,just leave a comment that mentions this review at this Quirk Classic blog post to enter their DOD Prize Pack giveaway.

The gang at Quirk Classics have 50 of these packs to hand out and the ghoulish goodies include not only an advance copy of DOD but also audio editions of PP&Z and S&S&SM,a password for online access to audio chapters of DOD,PP&Z journal and postcards and a Dawn of the Dreadfuls poster,which is pretty cool(I was sent one along with a review copy as part of their blogger outreach campaign for the new book). Good luck to all who enter and I really hope that one or more of my readers winds up on the winner's list.

I don't know if we will get any more Austen monster mashes in the future(the next Quirk Classic title takes on Tolstoy with Android Karenina)but it has been fun while it's lasted. Some might be perturbed by this trend,however anything that entertains and encourages a new legion of readers into embracing the wonders of Jane Austen's work is a worthwhile pop culture pursuit,indeed:

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