Wait a minute! Check that again. Did you read it correctly? Yep. Definitely says Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. And the cover proves it. Well now, there’s something you don’t see everyday.
Writer Seth Grahame-Smith has an eclectic oeuvre, author of Pardon My President, The Spider-Man Handbook, and The Big Book of Porn; he’s now a member of a growing group of writers who’ve decided there’s more to Pride and Prejudice than just the words penned by Jane Austen. In Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Grahame-Smith works on a simple premise: what if in the world of Mr. Darcy getting to know Miss Bennett the dead did not stay dead, but became zombies searching for delicious brains. Grahame-Smith has created a new art form here in taking a good percentage of the original text and inserting his own text alongside it. His talent is in using the same voice as Austen, so that the new scenes featuring zombie mayhem and impressive martial arts skills from the Bennett sisters are written in the same tone and therefore aren’t different or jarring.
There are two different schools of training in this world. The Bennett sisters are trained martial arts professionals, having spent years training under Master Liu in Shaolin, China. They each know how to use a variety of different weapons, though Elizabeth is best with her katana. When the five are together, facing a horde of zombies, they execute the Pentagram of Death fighting move that never fails. While Mr. Darcy was trained in Japan, under his aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, the most famous zombie killer in all of Britain. Along with the help of her highly trained ninjas, she is unstoppable. That is until she must face Elizabeth Bennett in an ultimate showdown over Mr. Darcy’s hand.
Austen fans need not worry that Grahame-Smith has ridiculed a work of art, but has merely added and in some ways “improved” it, giving the story a new look and new subplots. He even provides a Reader’s Discussion Guide at the end of the book. The last question reads: “Some scholars believe that the zombies were a last-minute addition to the novel, requested by the publisher in a shameless attempt to boost sales. Others argue that the hordes of living dead are integral to Jane Austen’s plot and social commentary. What do you think? Can you imagine what this novel might be like without the violent zombie mayhem?” After reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies you won’t be able to.
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Originally written on March 31st, 2009 ©Alex C. Telander.