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Dreadfully Ever After by Steve Hockensmith

1/04/2011. Contributed by Sue Davies

Buy Dreadfully Ever After in the USA - or Buy Dreadfully Ever After in the UK

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pub: Quirk Classics/Quirk Books. 287 page paperback. Price: $12.95 (US). ISBN: 978-1-59474-502-7.

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If you were worried that the Darcys would get bored living at the delightful Pemberton after their marriage then 'Dreadfully Ever After', the sequel to ‘Pride And Prejudice And Zombies’ will put your mind at rest. Naturally as a lady, Mrs Elizabeth Darcy is unable to carry a weapon, this does not prevent her from improvising when the need arises. Nevertheless, she is a little constrained by society’s requirements and is always pleased to get in a little fight, before or after breakfast.

Boredom is the least of her worries, though perhaps complacency and carelessness means that after a successful foray into the park involving some zombie lopping, Darcy is bitten on return by a random undead child.

The worst is expected, widowhood and stigma looms. Elizabeth may have to decapitate her own darling Darcy to prevent him rising again. This is serious enough for the dreaded lady Catherine de Bourgh to offer assistance at a price. The chance of a cure sends Elisabeth to London and possible disgrace.

We are in uncharted territory for Miss Jane Austen never ventured too far into the turbulent outsides world. With apologies to Miss Austen this really is a great story. High art it’s not but a rollicking good read that might have been a penny dreadful in its day. Using the traits of the Austen characters, Steve Hockensmith has taken them on a journey of discovery to perhaps find their true selves under the crinolines. I was gratified to see Mr. Bennett, an inoffensive but rather milk-coloured man in the original, coming out of his shell away from his whinging wife. His adventures in the original 'Pride And Prejudice' were off the page. We also get the other Bennett girls in on the action, romantic and otherwise with some expanded narrative for them.

My only criticism and I’m not sure it is the only one is how quickly it all got tied up at the end. A few pages from the end I was having the sinking feeling that we were headed for a cliff-hanging ending with a sequel. It was wrapped up very fast but in a very tidy way. The logic hung together to the end and, bizarre as this episode of the Bennetts' life story was, I was glad to have read it. I still maintain that you should read the originals that the pastiches are attached to as you will get a whole lot more out of these. Yeah for English Literature courses and it’s just great that we can enjoy the send-up, too.

Sue Davies

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