Fitzwilliam Darcy and his blushing bride, Elizabeth Bennett, are settling into a steady married routine. Fitzwilliam has settled into his life as a country gentleman, and Elizabeth has put down her katana and the tools of war for the proper life of a nobleman’s wife, where fighting is best left to hired ninjas and the man of the house. Meanwhile, every spring, the dreadfuls thaw out and roam the countryside, looking for unsuspecting folks upon whom to sup.
Like all marriages, after the blush of the first few years has passed, things are starting to settle. Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth have eschewed the life of the noble for a simpler existence, but Elizabeth is starting to grow bored with her role, as would anyone used to the hustle and bustle of organized combat alongside England’s finest removers of unmentionables, namely her sisters and father.
However, during a nice walk on their estate, there’s an accident. Namely, Fitzwilliam is bitten by a dreadful, and he’s only got one shot at survival: Lady Catherine De Bourgh, who has continued research on her anti-zombie serum (used to slow the effects of Charlotte Lucas’ zombification in the first book). Unfortunately, Lady Catherine’s serum will only slow the effects, not cure them. The only cure is rumored to be in London, possessed by the brilliant Dr. Angus MacFarquhar, head man of the infamous Bethlem Royal Hospital.
Of course, Lady Catherine suggests, the only way to get the serum is to get in to Dr. MacFarquhar’s good graces, and that would involve Elizabeth, Mr. Bennett, and Kitty going undercover into London’s noble set, which produces its own interesting take on Regency England’s social scene as influenced by the dreadful curse. Elizabeth is tasked with infiltrating Dr. MacFarquhar’s confidence by any means necessary, while Kitty is given over to Dr. Mac’s foolish son, Bunny, who is so known thanks to his beloved pet rabbit, Brummell.
Still, it’s a race against time for all involved. Will Fitzwilliam be saved? Will Elizabeth and the Bennett family’s disguise hold for long enough? Will the powder keg that is London in the time of typhus explode? Will a cure be discovered for the dreadful curse? Will the re-coronation of King George III take place without a hitch? Will Kitty and Mary ever find husbands?
If there’s one thing you can say about Steve Hockensmith’s contributions to the Pride And Prejudice And Zombies universe, it’s that he brings some coherence into the universe. Yes, it’s still kind of crazy after all these years to combine the traditionally stuffy comedy of manners with ninjas, Shaolin monks, and zombies, but Hockensmith’s skill as a writer and his interesting sense of humor have assembled a real world out of a pair of contrasting ideas that really shouldn’t work together. Hockensmith takes great pains to make sense of the role of warrior women like the hero of England, Lady Catherine, versus the role of married women like Elizabeth Bennett-Darcy.
This is a very sharp, very fun book, and it’s a very well-paced, quick read. That’s a testament to Hockensmith’s skills as a writer, as well as a testament to the strong characters created by Jane Austen. Even in this bizarro-Regency, the characters continue to shine, but these aren’t Jane Austen’s characters anymore. Nor is this the universe created by either Austen or Seth Grahame-Smith.
This is Hockensmith’s world now. He’s the one who laid the groundwork of how the Bennett sisters became the most formidable warrior family in all of England, and he’s the one writing up a proper ending to the series. Or, what I assume is a proper ending, as you can never be sure something is over until it’s officially over.
Still, Pride And Prejudice And Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After, is a highly entertaining book. While it is light on substance, it’s heavy on fun, with a whole lot of amusing sequences, the return and redemption of older characters, and the development of some of the more neglected Bennett sisters, namely Kitty and Mary.
I’ve got nothing but good things to say about Hockensmith’s work here, and somehow he’s managed to take Grahame-Smith’s reimagining of Austen’s work and make it his own. Say what you want to about original properties versus licensed sequels, but to play in someone else’s sandbox and make it feel like your original work is definitely a skill.
Dreadfully Ever After isn’t a starting point for those new to the Regency Zombies universe, but it is a wonderful addition to the world that Quirk Books has been carefully cultivating in their literary/B-movie mash-ups. If you enjoyed Dawn Of The Dreadfuls, you’ll really enjoy Dreadfully Ever After. If you didn’t enjoy Dawn Of The Dreadfuls, someone needs to check your pulse.
Pride And Prejudice And Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After is out now and available from Den Of Geek Store.
If you’d like to get your hands on some free swag, head on over to Quirk’s Dreadfully Ever After Facebook page here and give it a like. Eight randomly selected winners get a custom-made Zombie Antidote pendant designed by Etsy artist, SpecialMeat.
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