“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.”
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 & Prejudice & Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith & Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies tells the familiar tale of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy as they cross wits among scandal, heartbreak, and romance in the English countryside.
Except this time there are zombies.
Yes, the dead have risen and the ladies and gentlemen of English society have taken up swords, pistols, and daggers against them. The Bennett sisters are masters of the martial arts, Lady Catherine de Bourgh has an army of ninjas at her beck-and-call, and Mr. Darcy is credited with slaughtering one thousand of the ‘unmentionables (zombies) since the Fall of Cambridge.
Also apparently Cambridge has fallen, but that’s really not important here.
What is important is that this book is incredible, wicked fun from start to finish, taking everything I love about the original classic and adding in the Bennett sisters as unstoppable zombie killers. Elizabeth Bennett is still the formidable, spirited heroine she’s always been, and proud Mr. Darcy is still her match; except now the characters can cut you down with more than just perfectly timed and devastating sass.
Given that large stretches of the book are still the original text, the book loses almost none of its wit and humour, and the civilized verbal sparring is only added to with the addition of actual sparring on more than one occasion.
Grahame-Smith’s additions blend very closely with Austen’s original text, although sometimes the sheer audacity of the change was enough to make me question my sanity. Maybe Elizabeth did threaten to decapitate Darcy for insulting her honour in the original, but who can say for sure?
By far the part I enjoyed most was how completely unfazed everyone was about the fact that the country is basically overrun by zombies. It’s just a fact of life in the English country, and completely unworthy of remark unless one is unfortunate enough to lose a footman to the undead.
There’s a scene where a character rips a heart from a man’s chest and eats it and yet the main focus is that someone gets snubbed at this social gathering. I don’t think this was intended to parody Victorian manners and social etiquette, but if it was then I tip my top-hat to you, Mr. Grahame-Smith.
If nothing else, this is probably the best possible outcome to an idea developed by smashing together public domain works with fanboy favourites like ninjas and pirates.* In fact, it’s hard not to enjoy a book when it has a concept that’s so over the top and is so utterly unapologetic for it.
My main critique is that, despite all the fun the author is clearly having with this concept, the idea doesn’t really evolve past its initial shock value.
The author’s changes and additions are pretty minimal aside from the occasional appearance of the undead, and what is there doesn’t really add anything new to the plot. Zombies have risen, but nothing really changes because of it, even in parts where it really should. Some important story elements are complete undermined, but somehow this never makes an impact on the original plot.
Additionally, because the plot is almost unchanged, there’s not much to surprise readers aside from the addition of the undead. If you’ve read the original book, you’ll know almost exactly what to expect – aside from the occasional ballroom brawl.
However, since the original Pride & Prejudice is still something I return to at least once a year, this isn’t a flaw that prevented me from enjoying the story. But I wasn’t blown away either.
Was Pride & Prejudice & Zombies overrated and over hyped when it came out? Yeah, probably.
Do I care? Absolutely not!
If you like the idea of English gentlemen and ladies facing down scores of the undead with devastating skills in sarcasm AND swordplay, then I highly recommend it for some silly, horrify enjoyment this spooky season.
This is not a book to be taken too seriously, but it can still be a lot of fun.
Title: Pride & Prejudice & Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith & Jane Austen
Release date: May 1st 2009
Series: Pride & Prejudice & Zombies #1
Publisher: Quirk Books
Where you can find it: Amazon(CA) / Goodreads
Have you read this book? Did you enjoy it or chuck it at the nearest zombie? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.