So begins Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an expanded edition of the beloved Jane Austen novel featuring all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie mayhem. As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton—and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she’s soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy. What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers—and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield. Can Elizabeth vanquish the spawn of Satan? And overcome the social prejudices of the class-conscious landed gentry? Complete with romance, heartbreak, swordfights, cannibalism, and thousands of rotting corpses, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies transforms a masterpiece of world literature into something you’d actually want to read.
Okay, for those literary purists out there, let me just say that I am a huge Jane Austen fan, I’ve read all of her works… some of them several times over. I appreciate her work…yet I also appreciate that we can poke fun at what some consider a stuffy classic. Others may be lifting a brow, wondering what the heck this book is about. Pride and Predjudice…and Zombies?? I know, I was skeptical myself. I adore this original work and I was really afraid that the book would suffer through this business of literary-horror “mash-up”. However, there is no need to fret on that count. You will find 85% of Jane Austen’s original content… with a healthy dose of zombies and ninja’s which has produced, without a doubt, the funniest and classiest zombie story you will ever read.
Like me, you may find yourself laughing throughout the first chapter alone, reading what may be very familiar to you, yet made drastically different when discussions regarding zombies ensue. It was quite funny to read the usual discussion between the Bennets and how they wish to marry off each of the their daughters, and see it disintegrate to an argument regarding survival in the English countryside littered with the undead.
As I mentioned, 85% of the central story is the same…as are the characters and the language. It is only the circumstances that have changed. The Bennet sisters are still looking to be swept off their feet and their mother is determined to marry her daughters off to respectable and preferably wealthy gentlemen…yet their father trains them in martial arts in order to defend themselves and Meryton from the brain-eating zombies that run rampant.
The youngest Bennet sisters spend a lot of their time in Meryton, flirting with soldiers who are stationed there while the eldest two, Jane and Elizabeth, take their duties as skilled zombie-killers quite seriously. Things change, however, when a wealthy bachelor named Mr. Bingley shows up in Meryton, which has Jane hearing wedding bells. Accompanying Mr. Bingley is his arrogant friend, Mr. Darcy, who is also a renowned zombie-assassin, distracting Elizabeth from her sworn duty to protect their country.
As a lover of classics and horror novels, this book was a highly enjoyable read for me. Pride and Prejudice is one of my all time favorites so I was happy that it retained all of the qualities I love about it. Elizabeth is still the witty, intelligent heroine…she just happens to be able to kick some serious zombie ass. Some of the lines between her and Darcy will have you rolling. I think that Grahame-Smith did an admirable job of integrating the zombie story line in with Austen’s work. Who knew that the proper society manners of Georgian England would work so well with zombies and blood and gore? What happens when a zombie attack concludes? Everyone continues on, good manners intact, as if nothing at all is amiss. You need a sense of humour and appreciation for camp to successfully navigate this story. If you have both, you will not be disappointed.
Some of my favorite quotes:
“As guests fled in every direction, Mr. Bennet’s voice cut through the commotion. “Girls! Pentagram of Death!””
Caroline Bingley:”I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!”
Mr. Darcy: “Spoken like one who has never known the ecstasy of holding a still-beating heart in her hand.”
Lady Catherine: “Five daughters brought up at home without any ninjas? I never heard of such a thing. Your mother must have been quite a slave to your safety.”
Darcy: “Elizabeth, having rather expected to affront him, was amazed at his gallantry; and Darcy had never been so bewitched by any woman as he was by her. He really believed, that were it not for the inferiority of her connections, he should be in some danger of falling in love, and were it not for his considerable skill in the deadly arts, that he should be in danger of being bested by hers–for never had he seen a lady more gifted in the ways of vanquishing the undead.”
“Elizabeth: “Your balls, Mr. Darcy?”
Darcy: “They belong to you, Miss Bennett.”