Pray take heed that the polite term for the undead who feed upon the inconvenienced gentry in the delectable literary mash-up Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is ''unmentionables''; any term more graphic is considered too indelicate for mixed company. It's details like these they don't teach you in high school English-literature classes.
Now Seth Grahame-Smith has rectified that deficiency. The 21st-century screenwriter has taken the merry world established by a 19th-century literary lady, added a scourge of reanimated corpses, and created…well, a pop cultural phenomenon, certainly, and one that has stirred up a lot of excitement. But the greater achievement of the book may lie in the satisfying desire it awakens to read the remix and the original side by side.
Indeed, you'll miss out if you do not, so smartly does young Mr. Grahame-Smith insert himself in the thicket of curlicued manners that is Miss Austen's real comic theme. He cannibalizes her tale and then he inserts original scenes of tasteful mayhem, as Elizabeth Bennet and her Mr. Darcy, her sisters and Mr. Bingley, her prattling mother Bennet and forbearing papa do their thing. (Dear reader, there are ninjas, too.)
Let one morsel suffice: At a neighborhood ball, Elizabeth, Darcy, and Bingley come upon unmentionables feeding on some slaughtered servants. Says Mr. D: ''I don't suppose...that you would give me the honour of dispensing of this unhappy business alone. I should never forgive myself if your gown were soiled.'' Miss Bennet replies, ''The honour is all yours, Mr. Darcy.''
As Mr. G-S says, Mr. D ''cut the two zombies with savage yet dignified movements. He then made quick work of beheading the slaughtered staff, upon which Mr. Bingley politely vomited into his hands.'' O happy world even though, in the end, ''the dead continued to claw their way through crypt and coffin alike, feasting on British brains.'' Might we hope for a sequel? A–