IT IS A TRUTH universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains. Never was this truth more plain than during the recent attacks at Netherfield Park, in which a household of eighteen was slaughtered and consumed by a horde of the living dead.
This book, very simply put, is Pride and Prejudice meets Dawn of the Dead. It’s the classic story, rewritten to include zombies, also known as “unmentionables” and “the sadly stricken.” I felt that the author, Seth Grahame-Smith, did a wonderful job of integrating zombies into such a beloved classic, and I found those to be my favorite parts of the book. This story had me smiling and even laughing out loud because I loved the dry, tongue in cheek humor found throughout this book.
In some ways, this is a tough review to write because I enjoyed the idea of the story more than I enjoyed the story itself, and I can't stress enough that that was no fault of the author. In fact, the entire problem was my own. For the first 1/3 of the book, I had such a hard time reading and understanding the Austen era writing – the day to day language – and often found my mind wandering because I just couldn’t seem to follow along with the story. I’ve only read small parts of the classic itself and from what I could tell, Mr. Grahame-Smith stayed true to the original story, and that made the incorporation of those poor “dreadfuls” all the more fun, and kept me reading even though I was, as I said, having a hard time following the dialogs.
I think the best way I can give you a true idea of what I’m trying to convey is to share with you some of the more memorable moments:
1. This scene takes place while Elizabeth is staying at Netherfield Park during Jane’s convalescence:
The day passed much as the day before had done. Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley had spent some hours of the morning with the invalid, who continued, though slowly, to mend; and in the evening Elizabeth joined their party in the drawing room. The card table, however, did not appear. Mr. Darcy was writing, and Miss Bingley seated near him, was watching the progress of his letter and repeatedly calling off his attention by messages to his sister. Mr. Hurst and Mr. Bingley were at piquet, and Mrs. Hurst was observing their game.
Elizabeth took up the oiling of her musket stock, and was sufficiently amused in attending to what passed between Darcy and his companion.
2. This takes place during a dinner with Elizabeth and 2 other main characters, one of whom is turning into a "dreadful," but for some odd reason, only Elizabeth notices it.
As dinner continued in this manner, Elizabeth's eye was continually drawn to (deleted to avoid spoilers), who hovered over her plate, using a spoon to shovel goose meat and gravy in the general direction of her mouth, with limited success. As she did, one of the sores beneath her eye burst, sending a trickle of bloody pus down her cheek and into her mouth. Apparently, she found the added flavor agreeable, for it only increased the frequency of her spoonfuls. Elizabeth, however, could not help but vomit ever so slightly into her handkerchief.
3. During a dinner being held at Netherfield Park, Bingley is annoyed because his kitchen staff hasn’t come to clear away the dishes. He went down to the kitchen to find out what was keeping them and discovered that his staff had become dinner for the “unmentionables.” He goes back upstairs to get Mr. Darcy’s help cleaning up the mess, and Elizabeth Bennet, a highly skilled slayer, insists on coming along to help:
Mr. Bingley led the two of them down a hidden staircase and into the cellar, which was divided into two halves by a long corridor, one side belonging to the servants' quarters and armory, the other to the exercise parlor and kitchen. It was in the latter that a most unfortunate sight awaited them.
Two adult unmentionables, both of them male, busied themselves feasting upon the flesh of the household staff. How two zombies could have killed a dozen servants, four maids, two cooks, and a steward was beyond Elizabeth's comprehension, but she knew precisely how they had gotten in: The cellar door had been opened to let in the cool night air and relieve the oppression of the woodstoves.
"Well, I suppose we ought to take all of their heads, lest they be born to darkness," she said. Mr. Bingley observed the desserts his poor servants had been attending to at the time of their demise-a delightful array of tarts, exotic fruits, and pies, sadly soiled by blood and brains, and thus unusable.
"I don't suppose," said Darcy, "that you would give me the honour of dispensing of this unhappy business alone. I should never forgive myself if your gown were soiled."
"The honour is all yours, Mr. Darcy."
Elizabeth thought she detected the slightest smile on his face. She watched as Darcy drew his blade and cut down the two zombies with savage yet dignified movements. He then made quick work of beheading the slaughtered staff, upon which Mr. Bingley politely vomited into his hands. There was no denying Darcy's talents as a warrior.
"If only," she thought, “his talents as a gentleman were their equal."
4. I wish I could post more and more scenes, but I’ll stop with this final, sweet, heartwarming snippet which takes place after Elizabeth and Darcy have finally declared their affections for one another:
As they made for the house, Elizabeth and Darcy happened upon a herd of unmentionables, no more than a dozen in number, which had quartered itself in a garden not ten yards from the road. The creatures were crawling on their hands and knees, biting into ripe heads of cauliflower, which they had mistaken for stray brains. Elizabeth and Darcy laughed at the sight, and for a moment, resolved to keep walking-as the zombies had failed to take notice of them. But, sharing a glance and a smile, the pair realised they had stumbled onto their first opportunity to fight side by side.
And so they did.
The bottom line – if you found <i>Pride and Prejudice</i> an agreeable read, and your senses wouldn’t be overly offended by the liberties taken by Mr. Seth Grahame-Smith’s inclusion of “dreadfuls” throughout the story, I’d encourage you to give this a try. You might just like it as much as I did.