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Dawn of the Dreadfuls: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies    by Jane Austen & Steve Hockensmith Amazon.com order for
Dawn of the Dreadfuls
by Jane Austen
Order:  USA  Can
Quirk, 2010 (2010)
Softcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Whereas Pride and Prejudice and Zombies offered a unique take on a literary classic, the original prequel, Dawn of the Dreadfuls, is just plain fun. For any zombie fans who avoided Pride and Prejudice and Zombies because of Austin's stilted (to modern readers) style, Dawn of the Dreadfuls will be a welcome addition to this new phenomenon. Steve Hockensmith keeps faithful to the time period and characters, but the writing is pure 21st century historical horror.

Four years prior to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, England is at peace. Everyone is going about in typical Regency fashion and the dead are being buried with their heads still firmly attached. The Terror that many of the men of Mr. Oliver Bennett's generation fought is a thing of the past until Mr. Ford awakens at his own funeral. Mr. Bennett knows what is happening and regrets going against this vow to raise his children to be warriors. He immediately takes action, first by killing the late Mr. Ford and then cleaning up his dojo so he can train his five daughters in the way of his master.

To speed up their training, he brings in a new master who, despite being harsh with the girls, becomes the object of both Lizzy's and Mary's affections. Jane, having come out the year before, is the object of many men's affection at least until her father starts their training regime. Shunned by society, Jane must become a bodyguard for her only remaining suitor, Lord Lumpley, a lecherous yet influential man. However, there is no time for love as this is war and the zombie quickly amass in numbers and start attacking the good people of England once again.

Hockensmith's writing is such that the reader is instantly drawn into the tale and kept on the edge of his or her seat until the end. Although anyone familiar with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies or with Pride and Prejudice, for that matter will know what the only possible outcome can be, Hockensmith makes the journey a terrifying delight to read. While zombies can be gruesome, Hockensmith takes a light hand with them, keeping with the humorous vein of the original altered tale. The characters here, though, come out even more strongly, with all five Bennett daughters having distinct personalities. The secondary characters are also a lot of fun with their unique quirks.

For some good, solid zombie fun, pick up Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls by Steve Hockensmith. No matter what you thought of the original, this fast-paced humorous horror is sure to become a cult classic in its own right.

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