Had Jane Austen observed waterborne horrors like giant octopi and monstrous jellyfish not to mention the Devonshire Fang-Beast there's no doubt she would have written prettily about them. As it is, the land-based 19th-century lady stuck to what she knew when writing Sense and Sensibility, leaving Brooklyn-based 21st-century wordsmith Ben H. Winters to provide the fish-tailed portion of Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.
And here we have a whale of a problem. It may be a truth universally acknowledged that a publisher in possession of a hit with the hipster mash-up Pride and Prejudice and Zombies must be in want of a follow-up, pronto. But that doesn't mean the great Jane's novels can be grafted to any high-low premise, or her wry elegance improved by naughty-rude adjustments. Can it be that in the rush to turn a charming book novelty into a renewable resource, the whole Austen-and-monsters series has already jumped the shark? The second project strays much further from the original text than the first did. It's made goofier by the intrusion of a Jules Verne-inspired plot detour during which the Dashwood sisters descend to Sub-Marine Station Beta on the ocean floor. For no real payoff, courteous Colonel Brandon is now a gentleman with squishy tentacles dangling from his face. And suave Willoughby is now accompanied by a defecating pet orangutan.
There are plenty of menaces androids, bugs, people who text while driving still available for book packagers to mingle with other Austen masterpieces, but I'll second Mr. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice when he says, ''You have delighted us long enough.'' B–