Austen, Warriors and Zombies REVIEWING Dawn of the Dreadfuls

Welcome to The Real World According To Sam! Today we are talking about a prequel to a Pride & Prejudice retelling I reviewed a few years back. Let's jump back into the world of the Bennet family with.....

 Pride & Prejudice & Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls

Author: Steve Hockensmith
Genre: Historical Horror Fiction
Year: 2007

Dawn of the Dreadfuls


Journey Back to Regency England - Land of the Undead!

Readers will witness the birth of a heroine in Dawn of the Dreadfuls - a thrilling prequel set four years before the horrific events of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. As our story opens, the Bennet sisters are enjoying a peaceful life in the English countryside. They idle away the days reading, gardening, and daydreaming about future husbands -- until a funeral at the local parish goes strangely and horribly awry. 

Suddenly corpses are springing from the soft earth -- and only one family can stop them. As the bodies pile up, we watch Elizabeth Bennet evolve from a naive young teenager into a savage slayer of the undead. Along the way, two men vie for her affections: Master Hawksworth is the powerful warrior who trains her to kill, while thoughtful Dr. Keckilpenny seeks to conquer the walking dead using science instead of strength. Will either man win the prize of Elizabeth's heart? Or will their hearts be feasted upon by hordes of marauding zombies? Complete with romance, action, comedy, and an army of shambling corpses, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls will have Jane Austen rolling in her grave -- and just might inspire her to crawl out of it!


I read this book a couple years ago, but never reviewed it here and couldn't really remember it too well. So I decided that this Halloween would be a perfect time to revisit it and actually review it. 

Dawn of the Dreadfuls takes place before Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which was written by a different author. It details the rising of the zombies in Hertfordshire and the warrior training that Elizabeth and her sisters go through. It details the initial fight with the zombies and the reaction of the other inhabitants of the area to the impropriety of the deadly arts. 

This book is not written in the same kind of English as Jane Austen's works. It uses slightly elevated language and some similar sentence structuring, but overall tells its own story in its own way. It is not overly colloquial, but it also doesn't come close to Regency era English. As far as comparisons to Pride and Prejudice, it's generally okay. Elizabeth feels a little off at times, but overall it is still a decent version. Jane is particularly weak early on given the circumstances, but given her niceness and shy personality as well as the strange circumstances they are all thrown into abruptly, it works. Kitty and Lydia are as giggly and enthusiastic as ever. Mary is still relatively dull compared to the rest, but has points where even she gets to stick out independently. 

A couple of new characters are introduced in this novel that don't appear in the next one. This includes Master Hawksworth, who trains the Bennet girls to fight zombies, and Dr. Keckilpenny, who is an eccentric scientist wanting to study zombies. These characters are very distinct and provide a great deal of humor to the morbid events taking place, and each is shown to be very flawed. The characters are all well-developed and react accordingly to who they are. 

The action of the book is very straightforward. Zombies rise from the grave and begin going after the living. Some people take up arms, others worry about social propriety, and the Bennet sisters get their reputations trashed early on by learning how to fight. There are lots of zombies, there is a lot of blood, and there is a lot of mayhem. Lots of action makes for a pretty consistent pace. As far as zombies go, they are run of the mill. They want brains and kill to get them, converting others into zombies. There is nothing different or particularly special about them. 

This book is decently fun, with average macabre horrors, and a Pride and Prejudice coating. It isn't nearly as charming as the original novel and it isn't as good as some other adaptations, but it does add on to the lore of this particular group of retellings. This is a new story with slightly familiar characters in a familiar setting. If you don't take it seriously, it can be a pretty good time. It isn't the best Pride and Prejudice retelling, but if you like the original novel AND zombies, then putting them together might be exactly your cup of tea. If you don't like the original story and characters being blending with the macabre in a weird mix like this, then avoid this one. I give Dawn of the Dreadfuls a Lone Star rating of ✯✯. It's fun, but again, it isn't a book to take seriously. It definitely has enough creep factor and grotesque occurrences to make for an interesting Halloween read.

This concludes another review here at The Real World According To Sam, where I bring the books straight to your screen and even provide my own two cents about them. See you tomorrow!