Zombie of the Week: Dawn of the Dreadfuls’ Unmentionable Takes Axe In The Skull

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Welcome to ‘Zombie of the Week,’ folks, where each week we’ll present you with a different brain-eating member of the undead that has captured our fancy. There is no methodology to our Zombie Awesomeness meter, just our own piqued interests. Got a zombie we should see? Comment below. No zombie is too small, too short-lived, or too gross

Boy, those Bennet girls can really kick some some prose-infused ass.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls, the prequel to last year’s Jane Austen mash-up Pride and Prejudice and Zombies hit bookstores today, dripping with more slays and better word gore than you might expect from a girlish Austen-themed zombie fic. (Read the first two chapters free on your e-reader.)

The story explores the battle training of the Bennet girls as they become defenders of their home against the army of undead that’s plaguing the English country side. The first installment in the PPZ franchise was a literal reworking of Jane Austen’s original text done by Seth Grahame-Smith – the two shared a byline – but a prequel required an entirely new storyline. Steve Hockensmith (Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters) captures the sweeping beauty of Austen’s world with a bit more zing and a hell of a lot of zombies.

(See the book trailer: I Just Watched Elizabeth Bennet Chop Off A Zombie’s Head)

There are some great kills in this book, and don’t fear, the classic Elizabeth Bennet wit is just as sharp as her battle-axe. One of my favorite moments, however, comes courtesy of Elizabeth’s older sister Jane, a much more reserved, but just as fearsome slayer of the ‘unmentionables.’

Keep reading for an excerpt of the brand new book in which Jane gets a surprise visit and a zombie takes an axe in the skull.

…Was he really in love with her?

Even sitting alone in bed, Jane looked down and blushed.

A thump on the door roused her from her reverie. The chamber-maid was already back with a new decanter of brandy, it seemed, and Jane, feeling guilty about the mess she’d made for the girl, hopped out of bed to let her in.

The girl Jane found standing outside wasn’t the servant she’d expected, though. She wasn’t a servant at all, in fact.

Nor was she alive.

It was a dreadful, long dead but fresh from the grave to judge by the black earth still caked to its dress and withered flesh and patchy blond hair. In spots – the tips of the fingers, on and around the teeth no longer covered by lips or gumes – the dirt had been smeared away with something new: a paste of jellied brain.

The unmentionalbes hands were flapping at waitst level, gaze titled downward, as if the creature had been fumbling clumsily with the doorknob. When it looked up and saw Jane frozen pop-eyed before it, it hissed like an angry cat and lunged forward.

Jane ducked to the side and gave the thing a shove as it hurtled past. But the dreadful stumbled only a few steps before it whipped around and charged again, hands slashing.

Jane hopped onto her bed, grabbed one of the posts, and launched herself up atop the canopy frame. She meant to try a Panther’s Bound down again, hopefully within grabbing range of one of the weapons strewn about the room – a battle axe propped up beside the bedside table was particularly tantalizing. The unmentionable didn’t give her time, though. It began umping up swiping at her, tearing down ragged strips of cloth as Jane scuttled this way and that to avoid its raking nails.

Looking down on the zombie’s upturned, hideously decayed face, Jane though she saw a flash of something familiar – although with no nose or mouth or eyelids to go by,  and the ears dangling from flaps of loose flesh like grisly jewelry, recognition was impossible. Still, Jame began to feel like she might have known this girl.

If only she’d stop jumping around for a second. If only she’d stop trying to kill her…

“Oooo, I hope I’m not interrupting any-AHHHHHH!”

Both Jane and the dreadful turned toward the doorway. Standing there, the tray in her hands loaded with another bottle of brandy, was the plump chambermaid.

The unmentionable rushed toward her with a snarl. So shocked was the girl she didn’t even turn to flee but simply stood there, motionless, as if calmly offering the thing a drink.

Jane flipped down from the canopy, snatched up the battle-axe, and used all her momentum to bring the blade down into the zombie’s skull. The chop split the dreadful down the middle like a rotted-out log.

The two halves splayed out on the floor at the chambermaid’s feet.

“Ahh … ahh … ahh …,” the maid sputtered, too breathless even to scream. Her hands were shaking so violently the decanter danced around on her tray, rattling and sloshing and threatening to topple over.

Jane tried to think of something comforting to say. To her surprise – and vague consternation – she realized that she needed no comfort herself, and in fact she found it difficult, for once, to commiserate with someone who did.

She searched for words another moment, then put down her axe and placed a firm hand on the girl’s trembling, fleshy-soft arm.

“Why don’t you take that back downstairs?” she said, nodding down at the tray. “I don’t even like brandy, you know.”

Quirk Books, $12.95

More on Techland:

Zombie of the Week: Wait Wait … Don’t Eat Me!

Natalie Portman to Star in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Film

Zombie of the Week: Randall From Ugly Americans

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