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Something Like a Review: Dreadfully Ever After by Steve Hockensmith

When the first whispers of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies hit the internet, I didn’t even notice. My geeky little clique did, however, and talked about it non-stop from the first announcement. Their enthusiasm was unavoidable, and contagious. I wanted to read it, but I was skeptical. I was too much of an Austen fan to think that anyone else could do the original work justice, especially with the unconventional addition of zombies. Instead, I stalked the book until it was released, then downloaded a sample to my Kindle.

Before I finished reading the sample, I went to the bookstore and bought the dead tree version. (As a side note for you who are not familiar with this blog or my somewhat quirky tendencies, I consider hardcopy books -aka “dead tree versions”- an investment. For books I’m not likely to read again, I just buy the digital version, since they take up a heck of a lot less shelf space.)

When I found out there was a prequel, I was intrigued. I read Dawn of the Dreadfuls and liked it. I wasn’t blown away by it, but it was entertaining. It took a look at the zombie-slaying Bennet sisters from the beginning of their training. Hockensmith did well deconstructing the development of the characters and reconstructing them from the ground up, making their transition into P&P&Z flow seamlessly from one book to the next. He also did a good job setting up loose ends that led into the third book, Dreadfully Ever After. After the first two books, I expected to enjoy as a light, fun read. I expected solid, consistent characters since the author, Steve Hockensmith, was the author of the prequel. I will admit that I got a little more than I bargained for.

The story begins after Lizzy and Mr. Darcy’s “happily ever after.” Life isn’t as happy as the newlyweds deserve after the trials and tribulations they went through to get to their “I do’s.” The bridegroom gets nipped by a dreadful and then his bride begins her quest to save her beloved. While this certainly won’t stand up to a literary criticism or comparison to the original Austen novel, I found that I didn’t really care if it did or not. The story was engaging and fun and exciting. The characters were strong, and entertaining. Lizzy and Darcy maintained the vibrancy they were given in the original mash-up, and the reader gets treated to a new, albeit not entirely surprising side to Lady Catherine. What surprised and delighted me most of all was the development and growth in other characters, like Mary and Kitty. Both the dour girl and the frivolous shadow to the most frivolous Bennet girl both become more well-rounded characters than even Austen created. The development of Kitty was my favorite surprise of them all and I would happily read this series again just to see her growth from beginning to end.

The story was really enjoyable, and the cavalier action shown in the original continued, but with a the same shadows of decorum haunting each choice and action the Bennets take throughout the tale.There were enough twists to keep the story moving just a little bit faster than the reader, but each was plausible within the new context of the story. I was happy to see there were themes and loose ends carried through the preceding books to create a fulfilling trilogy.

As a set, the original book is the best, but Dreadfully Ever After is a close second. For the skeptics and literary purists who are wary of a classic being altered, I’d challenge them to put their stodgy sensibilities on the shelf for a bit and give this series a chance. The three books are clearly written by authors with a real appreciation of the original work, and while they are written with a sense of humor, it’s not one maliciously directed at the story. The humor through all three are enough to get the story light and enjoyable, but without detracting from the characters or the movement of the story. Even a classic work can be warped into something a devoted fan will enjoy when it’s done with as much skill and a sense of homage that Steve Hockensmith obviously invested in his work. I recommend investing in a dead tree version of Dreadfully Ever After and keeping it right beside Pride & Prejudice & Zombies.

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  1. March 22, 2011 at 6:01 am

    Thanks for that review! I may give them a try after all. I have the kindle sample awaiting my next free half hour.

    • March 23, 2011 at 8:14 am

      You are very welcome! I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. 🙂

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