Audiobook Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After by Steve Hockensmith

28 05 2012

Dreadfully Ever After (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Bk. 3) by Steve Hockensmith

Read by Katherine Kellgren

Audible, Inc.

Length: 9 Hrs 9 Min

Genre: Romantic Zombie Parody

Quick Thoughts: If you are a fan of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, I am sure Dreadfully Ever After will be a hit. For others, it is a decent adventure comedy that suffers only a bit from being the extrapolation of one long running joke. I actually had some fun with it, although I have no plans to run back and consume the novels prequels.

Grade: B-

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After is nominated for a 2012 Audie Award in the Fantasy Category.

My first experience with Jane Austen was all the way back in 8th grade English class. To be perfectly honest, I remember almost nothing of the experience. In fact, until recently, I couldn’t remember if it was Pride and Prejudice I read, or Sense and Sensibility. I was a 15 year old boy, just busting through puberty who had just discovered Stephen King and Dean Koontz. I wanted to read about genetically engineered dogs, and insane supernatural clowns, not manners and marriage among the landed gentry of 1800’s England. Of course, that was over 20 years ago. I am older and more mature. I have experienced the stumbles and pitfalls of romance. My reading materials are much more diverse. This more mature, more open-minded version of myself still has no desire to read about the manners and marriage of the landed gentry of 1800’s England. Perhaps id Pride and Prejudice and Zombies came out back when the fifteen year old version of me was still developing his tastes as a reading I wound now be an Austen enthusiast, and married to a landed English noblewoman with a predilection for violence and mayhem in the face of an undead swarm.

I listened to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After as part of the 2012 Armchair Audies. Dreadfully Ever After was nominated for an Audie Award in the Fantasy Category. Now, being a huge fan of Zombie fiction, I was a bit surprised that the one title I dreaded most out of the 16 titles in the categories I was covering was a Zombie novel. Yet, being simply being based on Jane Austen, of whom I have established I’m not a fan of, it was also the third in a series. So, I had to decide, should I listen to the first two in a series I’m not interested in or just jump right into the book. I jumped… or perhaps leaped into it. Dreadfully Ever After takes place after the events of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Now, Elizabeth has retired from her Zombie killing days and settled down as wife to Mr. Darcy. Returning home from a visit, they are attacked by a zombie, leading Mr. Darcy to be bitten, and perhaps doomed. Calling on the manipulative Aunt Catherine, and unbeknownst to Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth and her family take on a mission to procure a possible cure to the deadly virus. Dreadfully Ever After is an often amusing adventure tale with parodic hints to mission impossible. It is more an absurdist caper that a comedic comedy of manners. While it took me a while to get a good grasp on the characters, I found the absurdist stretches to the source material to be quite well executed. In particular, Kitty Bennett, Elizabeth Darcy’s young sister, often viewed as silly, was the perfect honey trap for a vapid English Dandy, and provided the best moments of the book. Of course, being based on Pride and Prejudice there were romantic elements, yet they were offbeat, funny and in some ways quite touching. If you are a fan of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, I am sure Dreadfully Ever After will be a hit. For others, it is a decent adventure comedy that suffers only a bit from being the extrapolation of one long running joke. I actually had some fun with it, although I have no plans to run back and consume the novels prequels.

Katherine Kellgren once again proves her masters grasp on accents and diverse characterizations in her performance in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After. During the moments where I was not connecting totally with the text, especially in the beginning of the book, Kellgren’s command of the narrative kept my ears glued to the auditory page. With such an over the top comedic novel, I’m glad that Kellgren’s narration, for the most part, stayed clear of over the top characterization. There were moments, particularly when voicing Sir Agnus MacFarquhar that she pushed up against that line but she never breaks it. What truly impressed me, and was a side of Kellgren I haven’t seen before was her sense of comic timing. She displayed the absurdity of the situation wonderfully, capturing just the right wry tone and easily eliciting laughs at the proper moments. This is clearly an instance where the narration of an audiobook enhances the experience of the novel.

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One response

2 06 2012
DevourerofBooks (@DevourerofBooks)

I wonder if I’d do better with these mashups in audio with a good narrator. In print I get too bored with the joke after 50 or so pages and have to give up.

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