Wednesday, December 2, 2009


I don’t want to come across of any more of a curmudgeon than I already am and certainly don’t want to rain on the parades of other writers but…

Is it just me or does anyone else think that the current fad for mixing classic English literature with horror is starting to wear a bit thin? Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was a bit of fun with a killer opening line (“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains") and if the trend had begun and ended there it would have been fine.

But recently everyone seems to be hopping upon this particular bandwagon with authors from Wells to Austen and a whole gaggle of monsters including sea serpents, vampires, werewolves and the previously mentioned zombies being co-opted to rampage across their texts. Basically it seems that if you can get the text on Project Gutenberg all you have to do is download it and add the monster of your choice (this may be a somewhat simplified version of the truth since I have only read P&P&Z and, to be honest, have no real intention of going anywhere near the various clones that have emerged like pod-people from the classic Jack Finney novel).

There is, of course, a great tradition of cross fertilization in fiction (both speculative and non-speculative) – Sherlock Holmes has met Dracula, Jack the Ripper and Sir Harry Flashman V.C, sequels by other hands have been written to The Time Machine and The Island of Dr Moreau, The War Of the Worlds has proven a fertile ground for SF writers time and time again, Tarzan and Doc Savage have met (albeit under different names in Philip Jose Farmer's magnificently twisted novel A Feast Unknown) even Elric and Kane have crossed paths (as have Elric and Conan in comic book form) but this current classics-n’-horror trend seems somewhat faddish and lazy to me (there, I said it).

At a time when publishers in general are becoming more and more conservative, books such as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies are a soft option (or rather the pod-people-books are, since it’s doubtful that anyone could have predicted the huge success of P&P&Z) but I think that they are harmful both to writers and their audiences since they stifle the imaginations of both.

If you really want Regency or Victorian or Edwardian horror, there are many, many fine writers who were working at the time and will deliver more genuine scares (and occasional chuckles) than a whole plethora of delve and pillage authors. (I notice, with great relief, that no one has yet been tempted to ‘improve’ The Turn of the Screw or The Castle of Otranto or, god forbid, Frankenstein).

Fortunately, trends such as classics-n’-horror tend to be short lived. Let’s hope someone knocks the wheels of this particular bandwagon very, very soon.


  1. I thought it seemed humorous enough when I first heard about it-not enough to pick it up though. Just that teaser of an opening line was enough for me. As for jumping on the veritable bandwagon no thanks. I will stick to the classics as they are and great new fiction.

  2. I saw the book in Waterstones, not shelf but display and the picture on the cover made me chuckle, but never bought it as Pride and Prejudice to me is boring anyway and lobbing a zombie, or two into it isn't gonna make much different. But you're right, fun concept. I don't like anchovies on pizza, but I do like chocolate, so covering the anchovies with chocolate ain't gonna make me order it.....But chocolate on pizza, anyone thought of that? I'll order the stomach pumt at the hospital now, incase.

  3. I am of like mind. I bit**ed about it on my blog last week. Sacrilege . . .