Authors: Ben H. Winters
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
By Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
“A delectable literary mash-up … might we hope for a sequel?
—Lisa Schwarzbaum of
“Jane Austen isn’t for everyone. Neither are zombies. But combine the two and the only question is, Why didn’t anyone think of this before? The judicious addition of flesh-eating undead to this otherwise faithful reworking is just what Austen’s gem needed.”
“Has there ever been a work of literature that couldn’t be improved by adding zombies?”
“Such is the accomplishment of
Pride And Prejudice And Zombies
that after reveling in its timeless intrigue, it’s difficult to remember how Austen’s novel got along without the undead. What begins as a gimmick ends with renewed appreciation of the indomitable appeal of Austen’s language, characters, and situations. Grade A.”
The A.V. Club
BY JANE AUSTEN AND BEN H. WINTERS
ILLUSTRATIONS BY EUGENE SMITH
This book is dedicated to my parents—
lovers of great literature and great silliness.
Copyright © 2009 by Quirk Productions, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher.
Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Number: 2009931290
Cover illustration by Lars Leetaru
Cover art research courtesy the Bridgeman Art Library International Ltd.
Interior illustrations by Eugene Smith
Production management by John J. McGurk
Distributed in North America by Chronicle Books
680 Second Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
As his weeping relations watched, astonished, the dying man clutched a bit of flotsam in his remaining hand and scrawled a message in the muddy shore.
Mrs. Dashwood grasped a spare oar from its rigging, snapped it in twain upon her knee, and plunged the sharp, broken point into the gleaming, deep-set eye of the beast.
Colonel Brandon, the friend of Sir John, suffered from a cruel affliction, the likes of which the Dashwood sisters had heard of, but never seen firsthand.
As the party watched in stunned horror, Miss Bellwether was wrapped inside the quavering blanket-shape of the beast and consumed.
Edward sought to grapple with the rear quarters of the great fish whilst it opened its massive wet maw around Mrs. Dashwood’s head.
This fearsome, two-headed beast had been thriving in this dank weather, expanding its bulk, awaiting its chance to strike.
The Dome itself, the greatest engineering triumph of human history since the Roman aqueducts, had been constructed over a decade and a half.
The guests began a screaming stampede for the exit, shoving and fighting past one another to get out of the path of the death-lobsters.
Marianne strolled with Willoughby along the beach, and Monsieur Pierre hopped happily alongside them.
At present her only concern was the crablike stinging horror that had crawled inside her helmet and attached one of its fearsome chelicerae directly into her neck.
The Dome gave way quickly, with sheets of glass tumbling and slicing to the ground, followed by waves of water rushing in from all directions.
The hero was Colonel Brandon.
The Leviathan looked this way and that, its gargantuan eyes rolling wildly.
The ceremony took place on the shores of Deadwind Island early in the autumn.
HE FAMILY OF DASHWOOD
had been settled in Sussex since before the Alteration, when the waters of the world grew cold and hateful to the sons of man, and darkness moved on the face of the deep.
The Dashwood estate was large, and their residence was at Norland Park, in the dead centre of their property, set back from the shoreline several hundred yards and ringed by torches.
The late owner of this estate was a single man, who lived to a very advanced age, and who for many years of his life had a constant companion and housekeeper in his sister. Her death came as a surprise, ten years before his own; she was beating laundry upon a rock that revealed itself to be the camouflaged exoskeleton of an overgrown crustacean, a striated hermit crab the size of a German shepherd. The enraged creature affixed itself to her face with a predictably unfortunate effect. As she rolled helplessly in the mud and sand, the crab mauled her most thoroughly, suffocating her mouth and nasal passages with its mucocutaneous undercarriage. Her death caused a great change in the elderly Mr. Dashwood’s home. To supply her loss, the old man invited and received into his house the family of his nephew Mr. Henry Dashwood, the legal inheritor of the Norland estate, and the person to whom he intended to bequeath it.
By a former marriage, Henry had one son, John; by his present lady, three daughters. The son, a steady, respectable young man, was amply provided for by the fortune of his mother. The succession to the Norland estate, therefore, was not so really important to John as to his half sisters; for their mother had nothing, and their fortune would thus depend upon
their father’s inheriting the old gentleman’s property, so it could one day come to them.
The old gentleman died; his will was read, and like almost every other will, gave as much disappointment as pleasure. He was neither so unjust, nor so ungrateful, as to leave his estate from his nephew—but Mr. Dashwood had wished for it more for the sake of his wife and daughters than for himself or his son—and to John alone it was secured! The three girls were left with a mere thousand pounds a-piece.
Henry Dashwood’s disappointment was at first severe; but his temper was cheerful and sanguine, and his thoughts soon turned to a long-held dream of noble adventure. The source of the Alteration was unknown and unknowable, but Mr. Dashwood held an eccentric theory: that there was discoverable, in some distant corner of the globe, the headwaters of a noxious stream that fed a virulent flow into every sea, every lake and estuary, poisoning the very well of the world. It was this insalubrious stream (went Henry Dashwood’s hypothesis), which had affected the Alteration; which had turned the creatures of the ocean against the people of the earth; which made even the tiniest darting minnow and the gentlest dolphin into aggressive, blood-thirsty predators, hardened and hateful towards our bipedal race; which had given foul birth to whole new races of man-hating, shape-shifting ocean creatures, sirens and sea witches and mermaids and mermen; which rendered the oceans of the world naught but great burbling salt-cauldrons of death. It was Mr. Dashwood’s resolution to join the ranks of those brave souls who had fought and navigated their way beyond England’s coastal waters in search of those headwaters and that dread source, to discover a method to dam its feculent flow.
Alas! A quarter mile off the coast of Sussex, Mr. Dashwood was eaten by a hammerhead shark. Such was clear from the distinctive shape of the bite marks and the severity of his injuries, when he washed up on the shore. The cruel beast had torn off his right hand at the wrist, consumed the greater portion of his left leg and the right in its entirety, and gouged a ragged V-shaped section from Mr. Dashwood’s torso.
His son, present wife, and three daughters stood in stunned desolation over the remains of Mr. Dashwood’s body; purpled and rock-battered upon the midnight sand, bleeding extravagantly from numerous gashes—but unaccountably still living. As his weeping relations watched, astonished, the dying man clutched a bit of flotsam in his remaining hand and scrawled a message in the muddy shore; with enormous effort he gestured with his head for his son, John, to crouch and read it. In this final tragic epistle, Mr. Dashwood recommended, with all the strength and urgency his injuries could command, the financial well-being of his stepmother and half sisters, who had been so poorly treated in the old gentleman’s will. Mr. John Dashwood had not the strong feelings of the rest of the family; but he was affected by a recommendation of such a nature at such a time, and he promised to do everything in his power to make them comfortable. And then the tide swelled, and carried away the words scrawled in the sand, as well as the final breath of Henry Dashwood.
Mr. John Dashwood had then leisure to consider how much there might prudently be in his power to do for his half sisters. He was not an ill-disposed young man, unless to be rather cold hearted and rather selfish is to be ill-disposed: but he was, in general, well respected. Had he married a more amiable woman, he might have been made still more respectable than he was. But Mrs. John Dashwood was a strong caricature of himself—more narrow-minded and selfish.
When he gave his promise to his father, he meditated within himself to increase the fortunes of his half sisters by the present of a thousand pounds a-piece. The prospect of his own inheritance warmed his heart and made him feel capable of generosity. Yes! He would give them three thousand pounds: It would be liberal and handsome! It would be enough to make them completely easy, and offer to each the prospect of making a home at a decent elevation.