Release Date: March 13, 2017
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is where it all began, but in the years following the runaway success of that particular piece of genius inspiration, several dozen authors have taken on the task of mixing time-honored literature with creatures out of whimsy — and whimsical nightmare.
Here, a comprehensive guide to the many, many titles putting the novelty into classic novels, from Jane Austen to Mark Twain to Chaucer, Montgomery and Tolstoy.
PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES
The Classic Regency Romance – Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!
By Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
Published by Quirk Books, 2009
Based on Pride and Prejudice (1813)
“My sisters and I cannot spend any substantial time searching for Wickham, as we are each commanded by His Majesty to defend Hertfordshire from all enemies until such time as we are dead, rendered lame, or married.”
Synopsis: Miss Elizabeth Bennet and her four sisters are trained warriors who fight the legions of the undead (the “Dreadfuls”, or “unmentionables” — one doesn’t use the “Z” word) in between attending country dances, being wooed by various eligible bachelors — plus, Wickham — and generally scandalizing the local gentry.
Why It Works: For Mr. Darcy to meet Elizabeth for the first time and hold her to be tolerable enough but secretly admire her mad skill with a katana is both satisfying and surreal. Pliant Jane, flighty Lydia and Kitty, and even pious Mary wielding weapons of war with gay abandon is also a study in compelling contrast. The idea of such a measured and restricted society as that of genteel 19th century England being forced to deal with the unpleasantness of animated rotting corpses is just very, very amusing. And the pleasingly just punishment exacted upon the irksome Mr. Collins must surely gladden Austenite hearts the world over.
Why It Doesn’t: One doesn’t really understand how the respected Lady Catherine de Bourg can be accounted a heroine of the Dreadful resistance and yet the Bennett girls’ Resident Evil-esque anti-zombie crusade is considered bad form. Also, Grahame-Smith is no Jane Austen: his prose is at times incredibly prosaic, more than occasionally crude, and some of the alterations made to both characters and dialogue are quite facile. For example, Lizzy in a zombie-infested world? Kind of a psycho.
Conclusion: The instigator of all of this literary monster mash-up craziness, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was an instant classic, the kind of book that made you wonder why no one had ever thought of it before, and yet be astounded that anyone had thought of it at all. The perfect blend of outrageousness, parody, reverence and homage, it quite rightly took the literary world by storm by not taking it — or itself — too seriously. Because it’s Pride and Prejudice, and there are zombies in it! Simply, awe-inspiringly brilliant.
By Amanda Grange
Published by Sourcebooks Landmark, 2009
Based on Pride and Prejudice (1813)
Darcy smiled, his eyes bright in the torchlight. “But I am a vampyre,” he said.
Synopsis: Mr. and Mrs. Darcy leave English shores for a honeymoon through Europe. Bizarrely, their marriage remains unconsummated in the months that follow and Darcy’s behavior is both odd and hurtful to his new bride. Eventually — very, very eventually — she discovers why. He’s a vampyre!
Why It Works: Ah, so Darcy was always so cold and forbidding and determined to keep everyone at a distance because he’s a vampyre! Makes total sense now. And Grange’s vampire mythology is actually pretty clever, to wit: “‘A cross could not hurt him,’ said Lady Catherine contemptuously. ‘A vampyre can only be hurt by something older than itself, and the Ancient was old when Christ was young.’” Nice one.
Why It Doesn’t: Mr. Darcy’s shocking revelation (that’s he’s a vampyre) more than three quarters of the way through the book would be more shocking and revelatory if it wasn’t, y’know, in the title. The book dwells lovingly on the aftermath of Pride and Prejudice, the wedding and the reception and the impromptu Grand Tour, including visits to sundry of Darcy’s shady acquaintance with very, very bad French accents and confrontations with overblown villains — and, yeah, Lady Catherine. Throughout it all, Lizzy’s tiresomely suspicious but silent for 250 damn pages until suddenly, hey, vampyre husband! Which she’s weirdly cool with. The biggest sin of this book, however, is that the style in which it is told could not be further from Austenian, for all that it is supposed to be a direct sequel to her most celebrated work. This is definitely a subtext- and irony-free zone.
Conclusion: For any fan of the plentiful “what happened next” Pride and Prejudice sequels who might also have an inclination toward to paranormal romance side of the bookshelf, this may appeal; it’s essentially so-so Austen fanfic with a vampire twist.
VAMPIRE DARCY’S DESIRE
A Pride and Prejudice Adaptation
By Regina Jeffers
Published by Ulysses Press, 2009
Based on Pride and Prejudice (1813)
He let his eyes fall on the second daughter. Although not as arrestingly beautiful as the eldest, Miss Elizabeth was alluring nonetheless—petite, small waist, dark hair with auburn highlights, almond shaped eyes—a dark green, nearly black—full red lips and a slim aristocratic nose. She simmered sensuality, and whether he liked it or not, his body reacted to her appearance.
Synopsis: Miss Elizabeth Bennet meets Mr. Darcy and the two are immediately attracted, then swiftly marry. She had also been drawn to the dashing Mr. Wickham, but the two gentlemen are enemies… ancient enemies! Elizabeth must then help Darcy break the curse that holds his family in its evil sway (so that she can have sex with him) and save her silly sister from certain sacrifice at the hands of an unlikely supervillain.
Why It Works: Seeing the story from Darcy’s perspective is quite refreshing, and it’s not terrible seeing an alternate version of Pride and Prejudice in which Darcy and Elizabeth fall in lust at first sight…
Why It Doesn’t: … no, wait, yes it is! It’s terrible! No pride, no prejudice, just fulsome mutual admiration and the two of them almost doing it every dozen pages or so. The title of this novel is also a complete fallacy, as Darcy isn’t even a vampire here, he is a dhampir… albeit a version of this legendary half-human/half-vampire creature that can choose to be a vampire if he so, er, desires. Stilted dialogue and appalling copy editing will get even the most forgiving reader riled up; pinning the whole tale on a Scottish ballad is tiresome; and the forced love triangle with Colonel Fitzwilliam at the end? Just dumb. When Wickham is the most believable and sympathetic character in your P&P adaptation, you know something is very, very wrong.
Conclusion: If you go into the novel expecting Darcy-and-Elizabeth raunchy vampire sex, you’ll be disappointed. The title promises all kinds of things it doesn’t deliver, which is either a good or a bad thing, depending on how salacious you like your paranormal romance. (And how vampire-y you like your Darcy.) However, there’s no Lady Catherine in here at all. So, there’s that.
12 000 words
Release Date: February 13, 2018