Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tea, Katanas and Shambling Corpses ...

Oh yeah!Guess what time it is? Time for a review of the sequel to 2009's smash hit Pride Prejudice and Zombies! Oh yeah, it is that time - welcome to my review of

by Steve Hockensmith

Are you as absurdly excited as I am? Thought so!

So, a couple of weeks ago this delightful little gem of a book landed in my mail box: 

Lizzie definitely has some meat here ...
...And so does Zombie girl here
As with the other covers (see to the side) the theme is kept the same: One Part beautiful and classic painting (this one different in that a person who is not a zombie - that is, she seems to be alive. For more of this dual nature of a cover, see Sense, Sensibilities and Sea Monsters.), one part CGI and a final part zombie awesomeness ... though this is more skeletal than zombie. And bu more I mean almost compltely - and for a moment, as I stared at it, I was like "Oh, please, please, have more meat in the book then there seems to be on Mr. Darcy ..."

Well bloggers, no need to worry! Plenty of meat in this one, too!
Onwards with the good Zombie books! 

First off, here is the synopsis, directly from the source
The story opens with our newly married protagonists, Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy, defending their village from an army of flesh-eating “unmentionables.” But the honeymoon has barely begun when poor Mr. Darcy is nipped by a rampaging dreadful. Elizabeth knows the proper course of action is to promptly behead her husband (and then burn the corpse, just to be safe). But when she learns of a miracle antidote under development in London, she realizes there may be one last chance to save her true love—and for everyone to live happily ever after.
First let me make mention of this (since I was slightly confused, though it's sort of irrelevant) - the Darcys have been married for four years when the story begins. I know, stupid little detail - but it effected the way I read the opening scene.

And about that opening scene! You see, this book just picks up direct, with no stopping and no pausing. It started right with the dreadful attack at Pemberly and moves right forward, going through a crash course in Elizabeth's own head before plummeting back to the practicalities of wanting to save one's husband:
Then she turned back to Darcy, experiencing a sensation that had been unknown to her for many a year: fear.
She'd faced legions of reanimated cadavers without flinching. She hadn't batted an eye while dueling her Shaolin masters on tightropes stretched over poison-tipped punji sticks. She'd kill a dreadful with a pebble, a pair of ninjas with their own toes, and a bear with nothing but a long hard stare, all without sinking so low as to break a sweat. (17)

Deciding that she must find this rumoured cure for Darcy, Elizabeth travels to London, only to be met by a mysterious Ninja, Nezu (probably my favourite character in this one) and her father and sister, Kitty. Kitty is remarkably changed from the previous two novels. Mentioned many times, she has been freed from the influence and clutches of her older sister Lydia, and as such is struggling to find her own personality. Instead, she is forced to become a tool in Lady Catherine's plans to obtain the cure for the Dreadfuls. She rises to the occasion, ungracefully, her job to entice the son of the head doctor at Bedlam Insanity Hospital, Bunny. Like his name, he has a fondness for the long eared critters.

Moving away from the plot, I would just like to mention the really interesting triangle of personalities (since it's not really a love triangle) that arises between Nezu, the serious ninja, Bunny the incorrigible dandy and Kitty, the girl trying to figure out where she stands and who she should be. I think this is the most interesting facet of the book for me - yes, Darcy is at death/redeath's door, and Lizzie needs to save him, but that seems like subplot to me in light of the going-ons of Kitty and these two men. 
Again, I particularly like Nezu. I can't help it - stuffy, over-serious ninjas get to me! Especially since he also blushes. Yes, he does. 

Back to point: I was reading the blog of an author who seems to specialize in both zombies and love triangles, and she, that is, Carrie Ryan,  had an interesting point - A love triangle is not really about love at all. Rather it is a junction in a life, and our protagonist must choose what sort of person she (in this case) will be - in this case, will she be a warrior woman or a silly thing? 

I really liked the development of Kitty from tree-branch-swinging, "La!" yelling child, to a more serious and compelling character. She develops through the novel in such a way that you're not even really thinking about it - and then it hit you. I think the scene that really displays this is close at the end, so instead of ruining it for you with a descrpition of the scene, I will just post a few lines that convey this change in her:
"You once asked how I could be a warrior and remain so human. I suppose it's because I never saw the two things as mutually exclusive. And so what if they are? Then I would be neither a true warrior nor a true lady. I would be something for which there is no label. And I wouldn't care! Just call me Kitty!" (267)

Asides from this development, DEA also doesn't disappoint with the laughs. Many "La!"s were had - from the first page to the end. The ongoing commentary by Oscar Bennet on his wife, his daughters and life in England in general, continues through, beginning early on with: 
Oscar Bennet was a man who appreciated peace and quiet. Yet for years his library had been the only place he could find either. Out in the green fields of Hertfordshire were the shambling, ever-ravenous escapees from Hell that it was his sworn duty to return to Satan in as many pieces as possible. His home, meanwhile, had been invaded long ago by more alarming creatures still - a swarm of strong-willed females. One foe he fought fearlessly. In the face of the other, his preferred tactic had been, most frequently, retreat to his book-lined safe hold. (39)

And not stopping. He has always (especially in PPZ: Dawn of the Dreafuls) been a character that embodies both funny moments and strict adherence to a warrior code. I think this dynamic is particularly developed in PPZ: DotD, but here it works as a page turner, in a sense. Instead of bringing attention to these aspects of his personality, the jokes and the comments Bennet makes are emphasizing his daughters' roles in the story - he has become a narration of sorts, and the real action is given to his daughters. Even the scene where he takes on two grown men - debt collectors - who have stolen very personal property of an acquaintance of teh Bennets, his fight scene is left to the imagination, and the reader is drawn into both Kitty and Lizzie's stories instead. The only mention of the fight being its conclusion: 
"Trouble?" he said under his breath.
"Sir Angus came home unexpectedly," Elizabeth replied.
"Trouble," her father said, sighing. 
Elizabeth peered down at the rabbit in his arms.
"Don't worry." Mr. Bennet wiped at the blood that speckled the rabbits thick fur. "It's not his." (186)
I think the relegation of Oscar Bennet to the sidelines of this story is a good move for Hockensmith - it allows him to develop the girls to the best of his abilities - and their own freedom. 

Another one who is developed is Mary. The often forgotten sister, she's a bookish sort who I always liked, but never got a real taste for until PPZ: DotD, where she was seen as almost a competitor for Master Hawksworth's approval and possible affections, with Lizzie. I loved watching her come out of her shell - and now, four years later and after reading Mary Wolstonecraft to death, she is at the right time in her own narrative to really come out on top. I think the best jewel among her scenes is this one where she goes into a book store to buy a map of London:
Once book and coins had changed hands, Mary said, "Do you also have in stock Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman?"
The shopkeeper nodded, half-smiling, as if her question answered one of his own.
"Indeed I do." Two shillings. But wouldn't the young lady prefer a nice frothy novel?"
Mary put the coins on the counter. 
"I'm not buying the book for myself," she said. "Be so good as to give it to the next young lady who comes looking for a frothy novel." (123-4)
Mary is witty and sharp, eeven if she is more of a quiet girl. her adventure is probably my second favourite subplot in the novel - and I won't tell you why, but I will say that whoever enjoyed PPZ: DoTD - you will LOVE this! 

But of course, the characters aren't developed in a staid world taht is colourless and boring, oh no. Hockensmith creates a flush London and England, riddled with Dreafuls, yes, but very complex in all its regency glory - some of the best parts of this world are unfortunately my secret to keep - I refuse to spoil more then I should! But there is a strain of English humour that courses through the book, and I will make light of one event, since it struck me as oddly funny and I laughed out loud, scaring the people next to me in the med center waiting room.
The first Irishman of the day was off and running. Seconds later, the gates opened , and out charged the dreadfuls. 
As always, a few zombies, catching sight of the great buffet arrayed in the stands, turned and rushed the high walls protecting the spectators. This was met with boos from  those who'd wagered on them to win. The rest of the pack, meanwhile, galloped after the Irishman, their colourful silk tunics flapping as they ran. (94)
Oh my, that British wit ...

A lot has been said about zombies these days - they seem to be everywhere and in everything. There is also a lot of revamping classics. However, do not be overwhelmed! This book is true to its predecessors and a great read where new characters will sweep you off your feet, old characters will really come into themselves, and some forgotten characters will rear out of the woodwork to demand more of the limelight. 

Honestly, this is my favourite of the series! Well done Hockensmith and well done Quirk! You did it again! 

Now if only I had some of the amazing illustrations to show you ...

The book comes out today (March 22), so if you want to share in all the glorious Regency Zombie fun - go pick up a copy at your local bookstore today and get to reading!

Awesome book, a great read and a great addition to the Zombie and Classic Mash up lit that's out there right now.

Now, as you should have come to expect from Quirk , given their other books and such that have come reader's way - they do not stop at giving you an awesome read, oh no. They also provide wicked book trailers, great facebook pages and other fun stuff. And for PPZ: DEA - they delivered!

For your pleasure (and those who love a good contest, La!), I am copying the message, with links, from Eric Smith at Quirk that came with my book!:
We've also commissioned Etsy artist SpecialMeat (who some of you know from Witch Craft) to create special Dreadful Antidote pendants. We'll be giving away eight of these at random to folks who give the Dreadfully Ever After page a 'like' on Facebook. Carol does amazing work, just check out these bottles
So, you just have to go over to their FB page , like it and be entered! Wicked, right? I already did ...

If that weren't enough, the high flyers over at Quirk are also releasing a book trailer on the 24th by the same creative geniuses behind the PPZ: Dawn of the Dreafuls Trailer (below). We were promised some high-flying kicks, blood, ninjas and katanas - so keep a look out for that! I will post it when it becomes available! 

I cannot wait for their new release, too - The Meowmorphosis! Though I promised myself I would start and finish Android Karina first ... sigh .. so many good books! 

Until next time - 

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful review Ammy!! I can't wait for Meowmorphosis either. It's been a while since I've read Kafka's original but I so enjoy the Quirck cover lol