Having just completed Dreadfully Ever After (DEA) by Steve Hockensmith I am left with more questions about the zombie plague. In Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (PPZ) by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith the zombie plague was in full swing. It was clear that there were those fighting the undead, though the presence of unmentionables had become something of common enough occurrence that society tried to carry on as if it were only a mere nuisance.
In Dawn of the Dreadfuls (DOD) by Steve Hockensmith, I was very disappointed that the book did not actually explain the beginning of the strange plague, nor was the setting of the book in the time of the plague’s first appearance. It was more a resurgence of the plague and the beginnings of the Bennet girls becoming the warriors we see them to be in PPZ. It was frustrating to know that the pandemic was infamous enough to have had a history book devoted to the actual beginning of the plague called The Troubles, and that Mr. Bennet himself had been among an elite group that had helped turn the tide against the near overrunning of the country by zombies. Yet, even with all that, little was actually revealed about the disease that contaminated the flesh leading to walking death or more intriguing how it infected the long dead to reanimate them.
This final book in the trilogy centers largely on the need to find the cure for the plague. We learned in PPZ that Lady Catherine was in possession of a serum that could slow down the progression of the disease. At the time she indicated that she was the creator of the serum, but in DEA we find that this is not the case. Lady Catherine has been granted an allowance of the serum–which she had previously diluted in order to administer to the stricken Charlotte–but through her considerable influence and power to gain information she knows of the cure.
Even upon finding the scientists involved in creating the cure we are told very little and are able to discern far less. Patient zero is never revealed, nor mentioned. We learn that the plague seems to only effect the English, and only the Anglican (i.e. white). Many ports have been closed to English ships, indicating that other countries are aware of the plague, and have essentially quarantined the island nation by cutting off trade. Most unfortunately at the conclusion of the novel the scientists involved in the discovery of the cure are lost, the cure is exhausted, and the proof of its ever existing must be concealed and so, the plague rages on.
This go round, I was better please with Hockensmith’s handling of the characters and story, but had been hoping for more resolution–or at lease more exposition–about the plague itself. It may not have been the main focus of the novel, being more of the inciting action and backdrop, but as Hockensmith had characters dealing more directly with the plague like Dr. Keckilpenny our necrosis consultant in DOD, Dr. MacFarquhar in DEA, and even going so far as to take us into the hospital housing the cure it would have been nice to have so many questions answered.
Where did the plague originate? Who was patient zero? How did it take hold so fiercely the first time to warrant an all out war that was called The Troubles? How was the plague able to infect the long dead? Why were the contaminants only to be feared from a zombie bite, and not the blood and gore being strewn about during their slaughter? How was the serum developed? How did that lead to the cure?
So many questions. Perhaps they indicate a good story yet to be told because even as I ask them they didn’t really present themselves as plot holes preventing the appreciation of the story as much as intriguing elements to ponder as the characters developed throughout DEA. I kept reading in the hopes of having them answered. Even disappointed I find myself thinking about them, trying to find the answers in the scarce mentions and explanations provided.
What about you? What questions about the plague were you left with? What answers did you come up with?
*Photo: Dexter Graves ‘Eternal Silence’ Monument (1789-1844) by puroticorico, obtained through Flickr.