Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
This book wins the ‘I wish I’d written it first’ award. Hands down.
Now aside from the initial twinges of jealousy that none of my fandoms are in the public domain, and so none of my fanfiction is thus publishable for any sort of critical review or monetary reimbursement, it is incredibly gratifying to see just how much Austen-fic is scattered about in Barnes & Noble, available in trade paperback for $12.95. I was gratified as well to find a reading group question guide at the end of this piece of NPR reviewed crackfic. I must share two questions with you.
7. Does Mrs. Bennet have a single redeeming quality?
10. Some scholars believe that the zombies were a last-minute addition to the novel, requested by the publisher in a shameless attempt to boost sales. Others argue that the hordes of living dead are integral to Jane Austen’s plot and social commentary. What do you think? Can you imagine what this novel might be like without the violent zombie mayhem?
Violent zombie mayhem, indeed. There is plenty of it, but thankfully our heroine Lizzy is not without her bootknife but once, and even so I lost count of how many zombies she dispatched in the sacred tradition of the Shaolin monks, with whom she spent the better part of three years training in the Orient. Better than the bootknife is her Katana, but not nearly so ladylike, and so she occasionally makes due.
Very little of the substance of the plot was changed, save the background noise of a 55-year infestation of zombies that rivals the nightmares of Michael Jackson’s Thriller video without the redeeming quality of dancing and dazzlingly dressed versions of the same. Materially, three things only were changed. First, the regiment was not quartered in Meryton to defend Hartfordshire from the French; they were there to aid the five Bennet sisters (sworn to the King to defend Hartfordshire until death, dismemberment, or marriage take them). Second, Mr. & Mrs. Collins both end up dying tragic but not unforeseen deaths due to complications of said infestation of unmentionables. Third, Darcy gets to beat the ever-living crap out of Wickham, though sadly off-page.
All three changes were surprisingly satisfying.
I do love a good AU. It never dawned on me to ask myself, ‘I wonder what it would have been like if there had been zombies in Regency England,’ but I’ll be asking that question from now on. (I’ll grant you, I’m more likely ask it of vampires, but that is just because they’ve always had a soft spot in my heart, from Bela Lugosi right on through to Robert Pattinson, with Lestat, Louis, Jean-Claude, Angel, Spike, Bill and Eric in between.) Ah, magical realism. How I adore thee.
I remember when I first started reading it that I knew the dramatic showdown between Lady Catherine and Elizabeth would be epic.
And it was.