Pride And Prejudice And Zombies

Described as being “The classic regency romance – now with ultraviolent zombie mayhem” (not to mention the oddly whimsical ultraviolent regency zombie mayhem illustrations…) this book turned out to have an odd charm of its own, whilst being horribly compulsive.

For anyone who has been enjoying The Jane Austen Fight Club on Youtube (until it got blocked for copyright reasons that is…), this is of a similar ilk, only it’s more Night Of The Living Dead, The Evil Dead, or Buffy than the original Fight Club.

Imagine that regency England has been suffering from a plague of zombies, with London partitioned into sectors, the military encampments more worried about the undead than Napoleon, and in which it is the norm for all unmarried women to study martial arts in defence of the crown…

Weirdly, it works, mainly because this is a mash up or slash endevour really, not an original work as such, but it works by using a distinctly Austen turn of phrase when describing even the most un-Austen like scenes of carnage. As well as the zombie/vampire related films and shows listed above, it also shares a surreal subtlety with Stella Gibbons’ ‘Cold Comfort Farm’, itself a satire on rural fictions such as those by Mary Webb. Gibbons could, with an apparently straight face, throw in lines about cows losing legs, and high melodrama in which overwraught spurned men collapsed into piles of sandwiches, whereas Seth Grahame-Smith gives us class snobbery over the distinctions between Japanese ninjas and Chinese grand masters, a disturbingly twee take on what to do with ‘tame’ zombies, and a training game called ‘Kiss Me Deer’;

“The rules were simple: Sneak up behind one of the large bucks grazing in the nearby woods, wrestle it to the ground, and kiss it on the nose before letting it go.”

In the horror stakes, who would have thought that Charlotte Lucas would suffer a fate even worse than simply marrying Mr Collins? that Elizabeth Bennett would arrive to see Jane in Netherfield not only all over mud, but also all over zombie?

Lady Catherine proves to be as infuriating as ever, albeit with martial arts skills and expensive ninjas, and Grahame-Smith gives Wickham a comeuppance that seems oddly appropriate, all things considered.

Not for the fainthearted, and it’ll ruin the original for you, but good fun nonetheless.