I really enjoyed P&P&Z, and was pleased to find that there were more (yes, I’m way behind on this stuff, but I’m trying to catch up, give an old lady a break). Dawn of the Dreadfuls is the prequel, telling us all about how the Bennett girls became the fierce warriors that they are in between the lines in Austen’s novel. We learn a bit about what went before, and how Mr. Bennett was involved in the initial zombie wars.
There has been a period of peace and rest, and England has returned to normal. They’ve even stopped beheading all of the dead – which was a bad move. No one knows how the strange plague has returned, but it has. Lizzie and the gang first experience this at the funeral of a local man, who sits up in the middle of the ceremony. His wife thinks that he was declared dead prematurely, but Mr. Bennett knows what’s up. He deals with this one, and realizes that soon enough the rest of the dead will be rising. He sends word to everyone who needs to know, including his old master as well as the army.
The army sends a rag-tag group of novices, led by an armless, legless Captain Cannon. He lost his limbs to zombie injuries in the war, and somehow lost his heart to Prudence (who became Mrs. Bennett). Master Liu sends Geoffrey Hawksworth to train the Bennett girls. Geoff takes a fancy to Lizzie, and vice versa. He’s a great teacher, but his battle skills haven’t been tested.
The smashing finale is at a ball at Netherfield, its owner prior to Mr. Bingley still in residence. Lord Lumpley has earned his name, and then some. He also earned his end, so to speak. All the townspeople are holed up in the big house, which is surrounded by zombies. No big spoilers to say that the Bennett family lives through it, otherwise there wouldn’t be any more books.
Like P&P&Z, Dawn of the Dreadfuls is a fun read. Maybe Austen purists are bothered by it, but as a huge Austenite, I really enjoy the off-shoots. At least the well-written ones.