By: Steve Hockensmith
Series: Pride & Prejudice & Zombies Trilogy
Readers will witness the birth of a heroine in Dawn of the Dreadfuls—a thrilling prequel set four years before the horrific events of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. As our story opens, the Bennet sisters are enjoying a peaceful life in the English countryside. They idle away the days reading, gardening, and daydreaming about future husbands—until a funeral at the local parish goes strangely and horribly awry.
Suddenly corpses are springing from the soft earth—and only one family can stop them. As the bodies pile up, we watch Elizabeth Bennet evolve from a naive young teenager into a savage slayer of the undead. Along the way, two men vie for her affections: Master Hawksworth is the powerful warrior who trains her to kill, while thoughtful Dr. Keckilpenny seeks to conquer the walking dead using science instead of strength. Will either man win the prize of Elizabeth’s heart? Or will their hearts be feasted upon by hordes of marauding zombies? Complete with romance, action, comedy, and an army of shambling corpses, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls will have Jane Austen rolling in her grave—and just might inspire her to crawl out of it!
First off, when I started reading this series in the order of publication, I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as when I read them in story line order. I think this had a lot to do with the story jump from book to book as well as character development. Plus there is the added bonus of seeing how the stories really fit together.
Dawn of the Dreadfuls starts with a funeral and just keeps running. As we are first introduced to all of our favorite characters as we all know and love them, they are sent on their way by a sound none have heard in the longest time... the sound of the undead. What I particularly enjoyed about this book in particular is that the "dreadful" epidemic isn't something new. It is something they have seen and survived before and Mr. Bennet, in particular, has faced them head on. I really fancied how Mr. Bennet's character really shines in this book. He was always such a gem in the original Pride and Prejudice but didn't get enough play time and here he just about jumps off the pages. My other favorite (and to be honest who doesn't love her) Elizabeth Bennet is younger and even spunkier than the original. The battle cry scene really brings out their amazing qualities and it is within the first 50 pages.
"Mr. Bennet assumed the Spread Eagle Stance, scowled, and bellowed,
It was a very good battle cry indeed. So much so that Kitty instantly burst into tears. Once her father had her calmed, he asked Jane to try a cry of her own.
"Haiee," she said.
"Did you hear that, girls?" Mr Bennet cupped a hand to his right ear. "I do believe a mouse just coughed."
Jane tried again.
"A consumptive mouse," Mr Bennet said.
"Which has stubbed his toe."
Mr. Bennet held up a hand and shook his head before Jane could unleash another of her half-hearted squeals.
"Your battle cry does more than announce you presence," he said. "It prepares you for combat by shattering the shackles of good manners and gentility. It is not a sound a gentleman or lady would choose to make. It is an animal sound-the roar of a killer stalking the jungle. As Master Liu used to say, a good battle cry 'unchains the tiger within.'"
"Perhaps I don't have a tiger inside me," Jane said.
"Everyone does, daughter. Everyone." Mr. Bennet turned to Lizzy. "You try it."
Elizabeth spread her legs, turned her feet outward, bent her knees, and took a deep breath, closed her eyes-and split the world in two.
When she opened her eyes again, Elizabeth found her four sisters gawping at her, slack-jawed.
"She certainly has a tiger," Lydia muttered. "and it's rabid."
"No," Mr Bennet said, "It is hungry."...
There are so many amazing things in this book! It shows such an amazing new perspective on the time and the characters. I really loved the training and battle scenes were not only stimulating but also illuminating. These scenes bring a new perspective you just don't get from the original Pride & Prejudice. The animalistic side of the characters brought all their traits into sharp focus where there used to be a great amount of subtlety. As far as the new characters, you will just have to discover them for yourself but they are certainly an interesting lot. The reason being that its difficult to not give away the story line when speaking about the characters in depth as these books are definitely character driven and rely heavily on the decisions and reactions of the characters rather than conflict and battles.
This book was so much fun and excellently written but it does have a couple of negatives. Continuity and Time Period. This book and the third book are obviously written by a different person and I am not talking about Jane Austen. I don't expect anyone to completely meld with the great Jane Austen but I did expect there to be a little more synergy with Seth Grahame-Smith. Also the way the story is done in regard to reactions and the syntax comes off as a little more modern than period appropriate. Both of these discrepancies are minor but are still noticeable. That was my same view as with Jane Slayre so maybe that's just my view of this style.
All in all, Steve Hockensmith really told the story wonderfully because he managed to make the characters sweet but raw, delicate but also savage. He kept true to form as well as fitting the growth of the characters with Pride & Prejudice & Zombies. However since this prelude was written after Pride & Prejudice & Zombies there is some disjointedness but it quickly finds pace. The rating on this beauty is a 4 because it was well written but lost points due to the above. I would definitely consider this a must read especially for a zombie or Jane Austen fan. Happy Reading!