Review: Thyla and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Both reviews originally posted on A Writer Goes On A Journey
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Thyla by Kate GordonThyla by Kate Gordon (Australian Author)

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

In Tasmania, a wild and damaged creature is found in the bush: a girl with no memory but for her name. As Tessa starts recovering from her injuries, she is placed in a boarding school by a kind policewoman who lost her own daughter, Cat, in the bush. Tessa knows there is something more to her and Cat’s story, and while she is afraid to find out why she has huge slashes across her back, she made a promise.

In a world of carbon copy YA paranormal, Thyla is truly unique. It’s written in the style of part diary, part letter, where Tessa is describing to Connolly, the policewoman who found her, about her memories and day to day life. Having her write to “you” instantly draws you into the story.

Tessa is a broken girl, and your heart goes out to her. She is truly wild and her knowledge has strange gaps like it, like not knowing what waffles are and her memories of what a school is are very old-fashioned. She’s a strange girl, but fiercely loyal to Connolly and her promise to find out what happened to Cat.

As is usual with books, you try to fill in the gaps yourself based upon your past experiences with other books in a similar genre. With Thyla, you won’t get any of it right. Gordon is an intricate master of plotting and story development. One thing in particular is that there aren’t that many YA paranormal novels set in Australia, and rather than just being the scenery, Gordon weaves the history and culture of Australia into the story.

Thyla is a brilliant young adult novel where you’ll be left itching for more, although once you begin it, you probably won’t thank the author for keeping you up all night to finish it!

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PPZPride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

My Rating: 4.6/5

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains. Thus is the Bennet’s existence in Regency England, surrounded by unmentionables, yet still being harassed by Mrs Bennet to go to balls and meet a rich husband. Of course, real ladies never say the ‘Z’ word. Far from being able to afford ninjas brought in from Japan, Mr Bennet has made sure his girl’s education includes the deadly arts that they may be able to protect themselves from the dreadful menace.

What was surely near the beginning of the fad of the Massics (Monsters in Classics), Pride and Prejudice and Zombies stands out as a tremendous story, with the zombies so closely weaved into the original Austen text and world. Graeme-Smith stayed true to Regency England and Austen’s characters, with the added flair of zombies (sorry, Unmentionables!), including the class system.

The charm and unique romance of the original story, and the ever-dashing Mr Darcy, is kept complete, and the emergence of the zombies is added spice to the original classic tale. There’s always the risk that in using an original text or myth, straying too far will make readers point out the discrepancies, and staying too close within the confines of the original text will be damned for being too gentle. Seth Grahame-Smith both respects Austen’s works and doesn’t let the original interfere with the parody.

This parody is delightfully difficult to dislike, even for those who previously kept away from Austen like a plague. Pride and Prejudice is improved all the more for the dreadfuls, the balls are more engaging, the merest cough a fearful sign, and still Mrs Bennet is in the background bemoaning that her daughters shall never be wed if they continue to disregard womanly modesty by slaying zombies left, right and centre.

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