Book: Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters

T.U. Dawood

Looking for something fun and different to read this winter?  Want to immerse yourself in a classic novel, but something modern and trendy at the same time?  Check out Quirk Books’ latest winner, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.

Following the runaway success of  Pride & Prejudice & the Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance – Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem! by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith, this latest whimsical retelling of a Jane Austen classic is written by Ms. Austen (of course) and Ben H. Waters.

This time around, the monster action and quirk writing are about 40% as compared to approximately just 15% in Pride & Prejudice & the Zombies.  This works well for the concept, freeing the new writer to make a stamp on the story while ensuring better pacing and lucidity.  While “Sense And Sensibility And Sea Monsters” is still very much tongue-in-cheek, it retains enough essence of the original classic to ensure its place as a cult classic. 

Billed as “a tale of romance, heartbreak, and tentacled mayhem” and with a fun-filled Youtube trailer, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters delivers on its promise.  The story revolves around the penniless Dashwood sisters Elinor and Marianne who live in a shanty on a small island; as they adjust to the lost of their wealth as their need to marry well, as well as a nearby ocean filled with peril. While neighbour Colonel Brandon quickly falls for the lively Marianne, the damsel prefers the handsome and dashing Willoughby.  Older sister Elinor, on the other hand, pines for Edward Ferras, brother of her uncaring sister-in-law.  Will they live to find true love in these dangerous times?

The Sea Monsters in this novel are derived from many sources including Pirates of the Caribbean and Jules Verne’s 20,000 Under the Sea.

Some very cool aspects of Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters include Colonel Brandon grotesque tentacle-face (clearly inspired by Davy Jones of Pirates of the Caribbean), giant jellyfish attacks, giant fighting lobsters, pet orangutans and Willoughby’s “manly beauty and abilities as a swimmer and monster slayer.”  When Willoughby rescues Marianne from a giant octopus attack, our blood-soaked and gut-covered heroine discovers, “of all manly dresses a wet-suit and flipper feet were the most becoming.” 

The writing is quite hilarious at times and there is sufficient quirk content to keep the story fresh and interesting.  While die-hard Austen fans will fear the original authoress will be turning in her grave, there are plenty of charming moments in Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.  It is better written and more fun than Pride & Prejudice & the Zombies (which has been translated into 17 languages and optioned to become a major motion picture) and although the monsterization of Austen idea is no longer novel, it still works surprisingly well.