Dreadfully Ever After, written by Steve Hockensmith, is the final chapter in the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies trilogy. Set in Regency England, Hockensmith continues the story of Lizzie and Darcy and their epic battle against the “dreadfuls”. Although the previous book ended as all of Austen’s books do: with a wedding, the newlywed couple has a short reprieve to rest on their laurels as Hockensmith places us right back in the action in this thrilling ending to the series.
All love stories that end happily should go on being that way, right? Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth have been married for four years when Darcy begins noticing how depressed Elizabeth seems. Thinking she is unhappy with their life together he decides to bring it up to her during one of their walks throughout Pemberley. As the two are discussing the cause of Elizabeth’s unhappiness a young child emerges from behind a tree. Recognizing the young boy as a servant’s child, Darcy kneels down to ask the child why he is alone. Darcy realizes all too late that the young boy is a dreadful and is unable to block the attack, causing the young boy to take a huge chunk out of Darcy’s neck! Elizabeth flings the boy against a tree, causing his head to explode and rushes back to Darcy’s side, noting that he is losing a lot of blood. She knows that he is going to turn into a dreadful and that she must behead him before he turns. Elizabeth looks at Darcy’s face and knows that she can’t lose him. Unable to behead him she hoists him on her back, rushes to Pemberley, covers his wound, and rushes to write a letter to the only person who can help her, Darcy’s aunt, Lady Catherine. Lady Catherine comes to attend Darcy in person with a tonic that slows the turning process. Lady Catherine extracts from Elizabeth a promise that she will go to London to pursue news of a cure and leave Darcy to Lady Catherine and Anne. Elizabeth uneasy about leaving Darcy alone with Anne and Lady Catherine realizes she has no other choice, agrees and leaves for London. Why does Lady Catherine want full control over Darcy’s health? What do she and Anne have up their sleeves? Will Elizabeth discover a cure?
With this being the final chapter in the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies trilogy, it was important in my eyes to see all three books tie together. Hockensmith definitely succeeds on this front. He takes the characters from the first two novels and infuses them with a whole new set of “ridiculous” characters. The characters that he’s created both in the prequel and this novel are definitely worth taking notice of. He creates brilliantly multi-layered humorous characters that add humor and depth to the story. Most people would respond to this by thinking, “It’s a book about zombies, how deep can it be?” Let me tell you: this book does get deep. It tackles very existential questions, chiefly what should you listen to more, your heart or your brain? It also begs the question: how far would you go to save the one you love?
My biggest complaint about the book was its ending. It seemed so rushed compared to the rest of the book. The events unfold at a fairly even pace, but the last 20 pages just seemed like a compressed and hastily constructed ending. Georgiana’s story was completely forgotten throughout the entire novel. She starts out as an active member of the story, but then is sent away on an errand for Lady Catherine. The next time we see her is at the very end of the novel and I sat there wondering what really happened to her. Where did she go?
If you’re new to the P&P&Z trilogy my advice would be to stick with the prequel and the sequel, as they are the shining stars here. Hockensmith should be congratulated as the stand-out author of the franchise. He expertly creates a vibrant story before and beyond the original work, and should be commended for his efforts. I heartily encourage anyone who is a P&P&Z fan to give this final book a try.
4 out of 5 stars
This is my tenth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge