Pride & Prejudice & The Zombies

T.U. Dawood

Looking for some light mid-summer reading?  If so, pick up a copy of the charming Pride & Prejudice & the Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith.  Think Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets the Augustan era.

Now, plenty of people have remade, updated or spoofed Austen both in novels as well as films. Her work is so consistent structurally, it generally more successful  in films than in written form. Whether it is film adaptations of “Emma” (the Gwyneth Paltrow, the superior Kate Beckinsale versions, of the best version of all, Clueless), Pride and Prejudice (anything from the Greer Garson-Laurence Olivier to the the classic BBC with Colin Firth to even the overrated Keira Knightley version) or the award-winning Sense and Sensibility and critically acclaimed Mansfield Park, these visual feasts are well worth watching.  Even last year’s quaint Lost in Austen story in which a typical British girl switches places with Elizabeth Bennett was a guilty pleasure.

It’s the written updates and the sequels in particular (I highly doubt  anyone by choice remember the ghastly Pemberley) that make fans cringe.  So far, there hasn’t been a universally admired one.

Pride & Prejudice & the Zombies changes all that.  Brought out by the exciting budding publishing house Quirk Books, it’s not meant to be a long awaited sequel or telling of what happens next, nor does Grahame-Smith really play around too much for the story.  It’s just what the title says:  a beloved story with some unexpected visits from the undead.

Darcy may not find Lizzy initially pleasing enough to his eye, but he’s got to admire her kung fu ability, particularly during such precarious times.  He himself, of course, is renowned for how many zombies he has wiped out.

Mr. Bennett is seen as quirky but ultimately with great foresight for training his daughters in the martial arts and the first time his fab five form their killer Pentagon in battle, they will enchant you.

As Darcy & Lizzy do their age old dance to find true love, there’s an undercurrent of fun and of simply not taking things too seriously (which many P&P addicts have a tendency to do). There’s ninjas, zombies and even bawdy sex jokes (yes, Jane Austen would definitely had not appreciated those) and a great excuse to read a favourite story in an original, quirky way.

On the other hand, if you are a purist, there are definite cringe-worthy moments and sadly, not much wit. The concept is superior to the execution and as far as satires go, this one is not very incisive nor does it pick up on many of the subtleties of the original text.

It’s summertime, however, and Buffy’s been off the air for so long, there is no better time to chill out, relax and read about two lovers falling in love in a battlefield of blood, gore and despite their own pride and prejudices.

The book has become so trendy and buzz-worthy, Grahame-Smith has been contracted to write two follow-up books, one of which is reported to be titled Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.