The first indication that the dreadfuls had returned was when Mr. Ford rudely tried to walk out of his own funeral. This is where teenaged Elizabeth Bennet sees her first unmentionable. (The zed word is not said in polite society.) Mr. Bennet was involved in the previous zombie war, but gave up the deadly arts when the menace appeared to have been vanquished. Now that the dreadfuls have returned, he seizes the chance to redeem his honor and train his daughters in the deadly arts. Elizabeth may not be the most talented or accomplished pupil, but she is definitely the most energetic and voracious. Between the initial zombie war and the recent outbreak, there had been a long time of people being buried in the normal way: with their heads attached. Now, all of these long buried dead have clawed their way out of graves all over Hertfordshire. Can the horde be stopped by the Bennet family and a hundred new, barely trained soldiers or will all hope be lost?
Hockensmith took great characters and put them in an entirely different situation while still preserving their essential being. The origins of the Bennet sisters fit very well with the image of them in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Jane's kindheartedness and compassion endures through her harsh training. Elizabeth is disillusioned and alienated by two different men, leading to her hard outer shell. The new characters introduced were wonderful. They are very flawed characters with dimensions, but most of them still managed to be likeable. The two that evoked the most feeling in me were Dr. Keckilpenny and Lord Lumpley. The doctor was quirky, cute, and absent minded. His extreme focus on finding scientific solution to the zombie problem was interesting. Lord Lumpley, on the other hand, was disgusting, lascivious, and made me feel dirty just reading about him. I liked that the point of view was in the third person and focused on different characters throughout the novel. It gave a peek into the inner workings of characters that wouldn't normally be showcased.
I was very interested in the way society was portrayed in the novel. When the Bennet girls first start to train, they are seen as social pariahs. This has to do with the tradition role of women in society and racism. Of course when the sisters were saving people that ostracized, the girls were popular and welcome. The attitude of the government when it didn't let people know the full extent of the zombie outbreak to keep people calm is reminiscent of many modern zombie novels. I've never seen this before in a book set in a different time period. These two aspects gave the story a bit of realism that made it easier to suspend disbelief and made me more engrossed with the story.
Dawn of the Dreadfuls was awesome. I loved this book. It was a great, fast read that moved fluidly. I think Steve Hockensmith had a slight advantage over Seth Grahame-Smith in that he didn't have to fit his writing into an existing text and try to blend the two together. This all new story was a much faster read than its predecessor, but just as enjoyable. (You can read my review of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies here.) The big zombie fight at the end really had me on the edge of my seat. I look forward to whatever Steven Hockensmith will do in the future.
My rating: 5/5 fishmuffins
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