In Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, we witnessed one of literature's favorite heroines, Elizabeth Bennet, fall in love while fighting valiantly against the zombie menace that had overtaken England. Now, in this lively prequel, PPZ: Dawn of the Dreadfuls, learn how the hoardes of unmentionables became said menace, and lively Lizzie found herself becoming one the British Isles foremost warrior-maidens.There are going to be some of you reading this review who are going to be surprised that I decided to read this. You may recall from my review of Seth Grahame-Smith's Pride and Prejudice and Zombies that I was, shall we say, less than pleased. You're thinking, 'Why would she even bother if she didn't like the first one?' It's simple: Dawn of the Dreadfuls has a different author. It was a risk I was willing to take.It was worth it.PPZ: Dawn of the Dreadfuls blew the socks off the first book. Now, Steven Hockensmith did have some advantages in that writing a prequel was a bit more of a clean slate; though he did have to remain faithful to the world and characters created, he did not have to try to work his words into those of another and make it seamless. That's not to say he had an easy task. He still had to mimic Austen's writing, create a believable prequel that could plausibly lead up to both the original text and Grahame-Smith's altered one, and he still had to find a way to strike a balance between Regency-era novel and zombie romper. I think he did admirably on all counts.In PPZ: DOD we get to watch as the dreadful plague, thought vanquished for years, returns to England. The Bennet girls find themselves in a peculiar situation, as their father intends them to learn the ways of the warrior, whilst their mother (and society) wishes them to go to balls and marry well. Young teens all, they've never been faced with the zombie menace -- or the handsome, red-coated officers who come to Meryton to battle them. The resulting mash-up of their experiences -- learning how to wield battleaxes and practice the Pouncing Panther and remain demure, proper English ladies at the same time -- makes for exactly the type of story Quirk Books is trying to present: fun parodies of literature's Greats that hit the mark without being condescending, insipid, or utterly ridiculous.The best compliment I can give Hockensmith is that there were times, in the midst of the ridiculous Regency zombieness, that it felt like Jane Austen could have written it. Nearly all of the things I didn't like in the first book were well done in this prequel. Unlike G-S, Hockensmith captured her tone and liveliness and humor well, and he remained faithful to the characters and world she created. Lizzie is both the sharp girl of Austen's classic, and the budding fierce warrior of Grahame-Smith's parody. Her sister, Jane, is as charming and sweet-natured as ever, and Mrs. Bennet is ever anxious that her daughters marry well before someone fall victim to the unmentionables and leave them all ruined. He kept their characters and personalities intact, while skewing the story just enough to make their actions still make sense in much-altered circumstances.All told, there's a little something for everyone: fans of Jane will find a fun twist on her work, and a real effort to stay true to her and her language, with little surprises planted for those familiar with her most famous work; fans of zombies will find brain-munching dreadfuls in abundance; fans of romance will find some romantic plot twists and general funness; fans of strong female characters will certainly love Elizabeth. If you didn't like the first one, I think you'll like this. If you did like the first one, I think you'll like this more. And if you've been unsure of whether to try one of these lit parodies that's suddenly all the rage, I think this is a good place to start. I would recommend getting your hands on a copy in time for Helluva Halloween II...(yeah, it's coming).