Once again in English history, a legislative act leads to disaster. The repeal of the Burial Act in the quiet years following The Troubles (several past zombie battles) meant that English citizens could be buried as they came into the world, with their heads still attached to their necks. It was a gesture of hope that past horrors could be forgotten and normal English life proceed, and it was just asking to go awry. Mysteriously, there remained in English soil, or in the chemistry of the English themselves, some agent that caused intact bodies to erupt from loosened graveyard soil in a shuffling, lurching search for fresh meat. They were referred to in society as ‘dreadfuls’ or ‘unmentionables’ much the way Lord Voldemort was ‘he who shall not be named’ or Rumpole’s wife ‘she who must be obeyed.’ They were hard to kill the second time around, requiring specialised skills that few people seem to possess. When the first dreadful raises its rotting head, an eager Oscar Bennet, trained in ninja fighting techniques and a veteran of The Troubles, determines that his five daughters will only avoid becoming tasty brain puddings by learning to defend themselves.
Unlike Seth Grahame-Smith’s collaboration with Jane Austen on Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Steve Hockensmith’s gore-laden prequel bears little resemblance to the original (I actually missed the rhythm of Austen’s language). The Bennets, in their home at Longbourn, are really the only familiar faces; Netherfield Park is occupied by the lascivious Lord Lumpley and his smarmy butler/enabler, Belgrave. With no obvious help to hand to destroy the expected zombie hordes, the Bennets’ garden house is converted back to a dojo, weapons come out of hiding, and a handsome stranger with a secret, Master Hawksworth, arrives to whip the Bennet girls into shape. It’s not all work, though (don’t forget Mrs. Bennet’s purpose in life). In spite of the tattered corpses wandering the nearby woods, love in all its variety also makes itself known to the Bennet girls: whether unwanted, unrequited, lost, found, cooled, ardent, or selfless, they learn lessons of the heart almost as well as they’ve learned to handle throwing stars, katanas, and the Fulcrum of Doom. The bodies (mostly arms) pile up as the Bennets carve their way to uncertain safety, protecting a society that realises they won’t survive the night without the Bennets’ fine, though admittedly socially uncouth, skills with ninja weaponry.
Check out this latest release from Quirk Books here. And don’t forget! Quirk Books is offering 50 Quirk Classics Prize Packs. Follow this link and mention this blog and you will be entered to win an advance copy of the book or a poster or audio books! The poster is like the one I embellished above. Good luck!