Posts Tagged ‘Steve Hockensmith’

“What? Do I really have to read another Pride and Prejudice and Zombies review by Vic?”, you are asking yourself. Blame it on Quirk books, who recently sent me Dreadfully Ever After, the sequel to P&P&Zombies.

The folks at Quirk Books have been such good sports about the tongue-in-cheek barbs that I have slung in their direction, that I simply could not resist reviewing this latest zombies installment. I have slowly been finessed by their cagey publicists – who keep tossing books, and posters, and zombie paraphenalia my way – and whose understanding of promoting and branding a product in today’s tech savvy world could teach a marketing professor a thing or two.

Dreadfully ever After is Steve Hockensmith’s second foray into Regency England, land of the dead. After Seth Grahame-Smith’s record smashing P&P&Zombies, Hockensmith wrote the prequel, Dawn of the Dreadfuls, explaining how the undead plague invaded England and how those darling Bennet girls were trained to become fierce Shaolin warriors, able to lop off the heads of marauding dreadfuls with an economy of movement that Steven Seagal can only dream about.

After reviewing P&P& Zombies two years ago, I outsourced the Dawn prequel to another reviewer, who has hardly spoken to me since. And so, wishing to keep the few friends I still have, I decided to tackle this book on my own. I kept putting off Dreadfully Ever After, but the review’s deadline was looming. I then drank a bottle of wine or two and began to slowly read the book.

Well, the joke is on me, for as I read it I kept going. Wisely, Hockensmith made no effort to write like Jane Austen. He created a rousing tale using his own words and Jane’s familiar characters in a setting that is both familiar (Regency England) and unfamiliar (filled with zombie slayers and the undead).

Darcy and Elizabeth have been married for four blissful years when he is bitten in the neck by young master Brayles, a freshly made zombie. Unfortunately, Lizzie cannot lop off the affected limb, for that would mean beheading her husband and result in a book that ends after two chapters. Fortunately, Lady Catherine de Bourgh reputedly has access to an antidote that might save her nephew’s life, however she does not possess a cure that might reverse the deadly effects of a zombie bite.

She sends Elizabeth on a dangerous mission to London, saying, “If I told you there was but one path to this salvation—and it was also the path to your utter degradation—would you, I wonder, be able to bend that stiff neck of yours and do what you must?” Without hesitation a stoic Lizzie hands Darcy’s care over to her nemesis and sets off for London with her warrior father and sister, Kitty to look for a physician who holds the cure to the strange plague. Her sister, Mary, is left behind. But she is no namby pamby miss and scurries after them, knowing her skills as a warrior might be of use.

And so the stage is set for a rousing zombie tale. While Darcy exists in a twilight world and experiences unspeakable urges, the troupe in London follows the few leads they’ve been given. The city has been divided into a series of quadrants and is surrounded by fortress walls and watchtowers. Much like airports today, travelers must wait to go through security:

A line of coaches and wagons more than a mile long stretched from the Northern Guard Tower, and it took hours just to be near enough to spot the red-coated soldiers stationed at the gate. The queue was full of merchants and peddlers and performers, all drawn to town by the upcoming recoronation of George III. The king, finally cured of his “nervous exhaution” (otherwise known as “insanity” when it afflicts those of lower rank), was about to reclaim his throne.”

This short passage explains why prepubescent boys and fans of gory mash-ups love the P&P&Zombies series – except for the plague of the undead, lack of electricity and running water, and a smattering of history, Regency England is not so very different from our dangerous world today. And so the plot moves swiftly on, prompting the reader to ask: Will Darcy be saved in time, or will Lizzie, Kitty, Mary, and Mr. Bennet dawdle in London so long that he will turn into a slobbering, mouldering, flesh-eating mess?

Steve Hockensmith’s way with a phrase can be a hoot. On page 158, Kitty declares of Nezu, Lady C de B’s ninja warrior: “He’s like a male Mary!” To which Mr. Bennet retorts, “Mary’s like a male Mary.”

Steve Hockensmith

Parents who worry that these mash-ups will liquify their childrens’ brains  need not worry, for these books, while exposing their offspring to plenty of gore and carnage, provide no untoward exposure to gooey sex scenes or slimy kisses. And so I leave it to you, gentle reader, to decide whether you should subject yourself and your progeny to a zombified England, or gently turn your backs to a series of runaway bestsellers whose ability to generate an impressive stream of revenue would make even Nora Roberts jealous.

Dreadfully Ever After, generously illustrated as all Quirk mash-ups are,  goes on sale today.


Carnage rating: 5 out of 5 severed limbs
Romance rating: 1 out of 5 torn-out hearts
Humor rating: 5 out of 5 brainless zombies

Read Full Post »

Inquiring reader, Jane Austen’s World has joined many other blogs in promoting Dawn of the Dreadfuls by Steve Hockensmith, the prequel to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  Quirk Books is offering the chance for you to win one of 50 Quirk Classics prize packs. To be eligible, each you must list where you read the review and post it to the Quirk Books site at this link. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls (Quirk Books; March 23, 2010; $12.95), by Steve Hockensmith, is an all-new work of fiction inspired by Jane Austen’s characters. My friend, Hillary Major, who reads more books than anyone I know, has graciously condescended to read and review the book.

A Dreadful Prequel, by Hillary Major

Before there was the Alamo, there was Netherfield Hall.

And who would you want by your side in a last stand of the living against the living dead but the sisters Bennet?

Set four years before Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Dawn of the Dreadfuls finds the Bennet siblings four years younger though already set in their ways: Jane is naively willing to see the best in everyone, Mary is sententious, Kitty a tagalong, and Lydia more lustily flirtatious than any eleven-year-old has a right to be. Elizabeth, however, finds herself at a crossroads when the long dormant undead choose to rise again only weeks before her coming out. Should she trade in her katana for an invitation to Mrs. Goswick’s ball? Should she content herself as the disciple of the handsome Master Hawksworth, her instructor in the deadly arts? Should she exercise her intellect by joining the Dr. Keckilpenny on his quest to re-educate the undead?

The Austen fan will be able to guess Lizzie’s decision long before the gathering zombies (that is to say, the unfortunate encroachments of certain unmentionables) make its outcome a matter of life and death.

Though Steve Hockensmith’s novel boasts only a dozen illustrations (illuminating such heartwarming scenes as an unmentionable “hump[ing] its way toward Mary like a massive, rabid inchworm”), the book is in many ways a cartoon. There’s a bumbling villain in the person of the portly and lascivious Lord Lumpley, who owns Netherfield Hall and fancies himself Hertfordshire’s version of the Prince Regent. (He also fancies Jane Bennet.) There’s a plenitude of martial arts as Mr. Bennet shares his past as a student of Shaolin and reveals that Mrs. Bennet’s flower shed was always intended to be the family dojo. Perhaps the most amusing twist of all comes when Mrs. Bennet’s lost love comes back into her life. Unfortunately, Captain Cannon finds himself rather diminished from his former glory…

Dawn of the Dreadfuls isn’t a thriller. We know the Bennet siblings will survive and go on to meet their Darcys, Binghams, and Wickhams. What, then, kept me turning the pages of this Quirk Classic? Could it be that (like Elizabeth, who defiantly uses the “z-word” even in company), I was simply fascinated by Hockensmith’s embrace of the vulgar, drawn in to walk the fine the line between the absurd and obscene?

Steve Hockensmith as a Dreadful

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls, the third Quirk Classic, comes with illustrations from artist Patrick Arrasmith.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls will be available for purchase on March 23, 2010
Published by Quirk Books
Paperback, $12.95, 288 pages
ISBN: 978-1-59474-454-9

Read Full Post »

Four recently released books about Jane Austen or the Regency period are in my review queue. The weather man forecasts snow, so I can’t think of a better way of spending the weekend than to curl up in front of a cheery fire and read these new additions to my library shelves:

Bellfield Hall: A Dido Kent Mystery by Anna Dean ( released on February 2nd).

It is 1805, and Miss Kent is summoned to her niece’s country manor to comfort her afte her fiance, Richard Montague, disappears.  Worse, the body of an unnown young woman is found on the grounds. As Dido works to resolve the mystery, she falls in love. With observations like these, who cannot like Dido Kent or look forward to reading the book?:

Mr. William Lomax …has a very fine profile. He has also the very great recommendation of being a widower. And, all in all, I am rather sorry that I gave up the business of falling in love some years ago.

The Misses Harris are too much engaged in being accomplished to take a great deal of exercise and their mother must save all her breath to gossip with.

About the author: Anna Dean set about crafting stories at the age of five under the impression that everyone was taught to write in order to pen books. By the time she discovered her mistake, the habit was too deeply ingrained to give up. She resides in the Lake District of England.

You may order the book directly from the publisher. For the time being I am boycotting Amazon.com, and I highly recommend that you also eschew this bombastic pricing bully.

Jane Austen: Christian Encounters by Peter Leithart (to be released on March 2nd, 2010).

Some may know Jane Austen simply as the English novelist whose books are required reading in high school and college. Perhaps it wasn’t until the BBC’s extremely successful TV miniseries of Pride and Prejudice or Emma Thompson’s film Sense and Sensibility that many became entranced. Now younger readers are flocking to Austen with a unique twist in the bestselling Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance, by Seth Grahame-Smith. In this Christian Encounters biography, fans of Jane Austen will discover the Christian faith that was in the weft and weave of her character and how it influenced her writing and her life.

Order the book from the publisher, Thomas Nelson.

Mansfield Park and Mummies by Jane Austen and Vera Nazarian

Oh, yes, another Jane Austen mashup. But with writing like this, how can one resist a look-see?:

In the morning the ball was over, the mummies nowhere in sight, and much of the cleanup still to come And the breakfast was soon over too. All throughout, everyone ate in due solemnity, Sir Thomas decidedly troubled and deep in thought. Mr. Crawford impeccable, Edmund grim and absentminded, and only William darting quick happy looks at Fanny and whispering repeatedly, “Best ….ball….ever!”

The website for this book says it all: Spinsterhood or Mummification!
Ancient Egypt infiltrates Regency England in this elegant, hilarious, witty, insane, and unexpectedly romantic monster parody of Jane Austen’s classic novel.

Our gentle yet indomitable heroine Fanny Price must hold steadfast not only against the seductive charms of Henry Crawford but also an Ancient Egyptian Pharaoh!

Meanwhile, the indubitably handsome and kind hero Edmund attempts Exorcisms… Miss Crawford vamps out… Aunt Norris channels her inner werewolf… The Mummy-mesmerized Lady Bertram collects Egyptian artifacts…

Order the book from the publisher, Norilana Books

Last but not least is the prequel to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies published by Quirk Books. Dawn of the Dreadfuls by Steve Hockensmith ( coming out in March!)

The story opens with the Bennets attending a funeral for a local shopkeeper, who — before the burial — suddenly sits up in his coffin. Everyone in the crowd is shocked except Mr. Bennet, who has some knowledge of zombie incursions in other parts of England. Realizing that the scourge has come to their village, he decides to protect his daughters by having them schooled in the martial arts — nunchuks, katana swords, and the like…

Look for a special promotion of the book on March 3.

Order the book from the publisher, Quirk Books

More reviews on this blog:

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: