Monday, 12 October 2009

Sense And Sensibility And Sea Monsters

Following on from the huge success of “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” it was only a matter of time before Quirk classics unleashed their second reimagining of an established classic, here once again returning to the world of Austin with “Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters” something which came as a surprise to many, that they hadn’t stuck strictly to the horror genre, meaning that there is none of the suspected Vampires appearences here, which was a great relief especially to people like myself, who are sick to death of the recent Vampire obsession that being lead by Stephanie Meyers “Twilight” saga as well as Charlaine Harris’s “True Blood” novels, which in turn have lead to a whole heap of imitators, as various publishers attempt to cash in on this boom in the Paranormal romance market, while since the release of “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” a huge number of imitators turning up, often just taking a popular story and giving it a horror twist such as “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Zombie Jim” and “The Undead World of Oz: L. Frank Baum's Beloved Tale Complete with Zombies and Monsters” to the really unnecessary crossovers like “The War of the Worlds: H.G. Wells's Classic Plus Blood, Guts and Zombies”. Considering this you have to respect Quirk Classics and their decision, to instead take their newly created genre in a new direction.
It seems since the release of the first book in the series, though that Quirk have been listening to their critics, especially since the first book had an overwhelming feeling of a joke being stretched to thin, which could have been largely down to the 50 / 50 blend of original and new material, which did on several occasions stand out, rather than blend together, while the other problem for many readers being the somewhat un needed inclusion of the daughters being trained in Martial arts, as well as numerous references to training in the orient, which proved to only take the reader out of the story than helping to immerse themselves. Still these problems have now thankfully been corrected with the blend now being a much healthier 30 / 70 blend of original and new material, which works a lot more effectively especially as Ben H.Winters, who has taken over from Seth Grahame-Smith on this latest adaptation gives us a completely new spin on the classic story, which could almost at times be seen as it’s own novel, rather than a quirk adaptation with his introduction of a Adventure / B Movie style plot points, with the noticeable addition of a trip to the underwater city “Sub-marine Station Beta” which replaces their trip to London, while still providing everything that the Capitol city offers and at the same time, providing a reason to still include attacks from various sea monsters.
Story wise nothing has really been changed outside of adjustments to characters and locations, to help them fit more snugly into this world that Winters has created, with Devonshire becoming “The Pestilent Isle”, while several characters also receive a make over, with the most notable being Col. Brandon who having been cursed by a sea witch, has been forced to live as a man mutant, with a squid like face were as Sir John is now an elusive explorer, complete with a long white beard and necklace of ears, who previously had kidnapped Mrs Middleton who here, is a former tribal princess, whose village was slaughtered by Sir John and his men and now spends her time planning her escape back home, while lacing soup with Monkey Urine and cheating the local aristocrats out of their money, while playing extensively complex games of her own creation, providing several amusing moments throughout, but these changes all blend together well and never slow down the story, or have the feeling that they have been simply cut and pasted into the original story.

As with “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” Winters is more than happy to include several gruesome attack scenes, while also having the advantage of having a whole ocean worth of beasties to include, often using their appearances to heighten moments of high emotion, such as choosing to include an attack by the Devonshire Fang Beast, when Elinor learns of Edward Ferrars’ past or a gore soaked attack by giant lobsters, at the same moment of Marianne’s discovering that she has been betrayed by Willoughby.

“Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters” is a big step up for Quirk classics, as they have now firmly with this latest entry established themselves as the trend setters in the genre and I personally hope that future additions to the series will be in a similar vain to this novel, though perhaps moving away from the works of Austin and perhaps turning their attention to another classic author, though as the publishers have been tight lipped on were the series will be heading next, but I’m certainly, like no doubt many readers of this latest edition to the series, I’m eagerly awaiting to find out.

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