Classics with a Spooky Twist: Getting into Literature with the help of Parodies

If you’re anything like me, you struggle with really getting into the books typically classed as ‘classic literature’. I don’t know what it is about them that just does pretty much nothing for me. I always felt like this was such a shame as so many people that I’ve spoken to can go into such detail about why Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights is so important to the discussion of social class, or why the theme of self-improvement in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations is so prudent. But I have no idea 😂

So, a while ago I started looking for another way into the world of ‘classic literature’ and came across a series of parodies. Now, I know what you might be thinking. Why on earth would you want to read some weird, twisted version of a story when you could just read the original? Well, I found that these parodies really added another dimension to these stories and kept me interested enough to get to the end! Victory! 🎉

Here are some of my recommendations for some classic parodies with a spooky twist, perfect for this Halloween season! 🎃👻

The first parody that I read and enjoyed was Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith. If you enjoyed the film adaptation of the same name, and like a little bit of flesh-eating zombie with your literature, then you’d definitely enjoy this!

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Title: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Author(s): Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

Genre: Fiction, Comedy, Historical, Horror, Thriller

Blurb: So begins Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an expanded edition of the beloved Jane Austen novel featuring all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie mayhem. As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton – and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she’s soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy. What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers – and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield. Can Elizabeth vanquish the spawn of Satan? And overcome the social prejudices of the class-conscious landed gentry? Complete with romance, heartbreak, swordfights, cannibalism, and thousands of rotten corpses, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies transforms a masterpiece of world literature into something you’d actually want to read.

A prequel and sequel were both released later to accompany this book. If you’ve read and enjoyed the original Jane Austen novel, and like the addition of zombies to your books then this series is one for you!

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Let’s start with the prequel, set before Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Title: Dreadfully Ever After

Author: Steve Hockensmith

Genre: Fiction, Parody, Humour, Historical, Regency, Horror

Blurb: When we last saw Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy – at the end of the New York Times bestseller Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – they were preparing for a lifetime of wedded bliss. Yet the honeymoon has barely begun when poor Mr. Darcy is nipped by a rampaging dreadful. Elizabeth knows the only acceptable course of action is to promptly behead her husband (and then burn the corpse, just to be safe). But when she learns of a miracle antidote being developed in London, she realises there may be one last chance to save her true love – and for everyone to live happily ever after. Complete with romance, heartbreak, martial arts, cannibalism, and an army of shambling corpses, Dreadfully Ever After brings the story of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies to a thrilling conclusion.

IMG-3660And, of course, not forgetting the sequel with a particularly disturbing cover 😂

Title: Dawn of the Dreadfuls

Author: Steve Hockensmith

Genre: Fiction, Humour, Thriller, Historical, Black Comedy

Blurb: Readers will witness the birth of a heroine in Dawn of the Dreadfuls – a thrilling prequel set four years before the horrific events of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. As our story opens, the Bennet sisters are enjoying a peaceful life in the English countryside. They idle away the days reading, gardening, and daydreaming about future husbands – until a funeral at the local parish goes strangely and horribly awry. Suddenly corpses are springing from the soft earth – and only one family can stop them. As the bodies pile up, we watch Elizabeth Bennet evolve from a naive young teenager into a savage slayer of the undead. Along the way, two men vie for her affections: Master Hawksworth is the powerful warrior who trains her to kill, while thoughtful Dr. Keckilpenny seeks to conquer the walking dead using science instead of strength, Will either man win the prize of Elizabeth’s heart? Or will their hearts be feasted upon by hordes of marauding zombies? Complete with romance, action, comedy, and an army of shambling corpses, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls will have Jane Austen rolling in her grave – and just might inspire her to crawl out of it!

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This series from the Quirk Classics collection is a brilliantly conceived idea to really expand on such a classic story, without taking away any of the important plot points, characters or messages. I really feel like this parody series has preserved the integrity of the original classic while making it appealing to a whole new audience, and even generation, by adding the action and gore that is so popular.

If you’re not so much a fan of zombies and prefer your supernatural twists with a little more mechanics and robots, you may be a fan of Android Karenina by Leo Tolstoy and Ben H. Winters. A theme to really bring an older book into the 21st century! 😂

IMG-3667Title: Android Karenina

Author(s): Leo Tolstoy and Ben H. Winters

Genre: Fiction, Parody, Steampunk

Blurb: It’s been called the greatest novel ever written. Now, Tolstoy’s timeless saga of love and betrayal is transported to an awesomer version of 19th century Russia. It is a world humming with high-powered groznium engines: where debutantes dance the 3D waltz in midair, mechanical wolves charge into battle alongside brave young soldiers, and robots – miraculous, beloved robots! – are the faithful companions of everyone who’s anyone. Restless to forge her own destiny in this fantastic modern life, the bold noblewoman Anna and her enigmatic Android Karenina abandon a loveless marriage to seize passion with the daring, handsome Count Vronsky. But when their scandalous affair gets mixed up with the dangerous futuristic villainy, the ensuing chaos threatens to rip apart their lives, their families, and – just maybe – all of planet Earth.

Or maybe killer creatures from the deep are more your thing! Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters skillfully intertwines the classic themes of the original Jane Austen novel with Ben H. Winters’ watery twist!

IMG-3666 Title: Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters

Author(s): Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters

Genre: Fiction, Humour, Black Humour, Thriller, Horror

Blurb: Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters expands the original text of the beloved Jane Austen novel with all-new scenes of giant lobsters, rampaging octopi, two-headed sea serpents, and other biological monstrosities. As our story opens, the Dashwood sisters are evicted from their childhood home and sent to live in a mysterious island full of savage creatures and dark secrets. While sensible Elinor falls in love with Edward Ferrars, her romantic sister Marianne is courted by both the handsome Willoughby and the hideous man-monster Colonel Brandon. Can the Dashwood sisters triumph over meddlesome matriarchs and unscrupulous rogues to find true love? Or will they fall prey to the tentacles that are forever snapping at their heels? This masterful portrait of Regency England blends Jane Austen’s biting social commentary with ultraviolent depictions of sea monsters biting. It’s survival of the fittest – and only the swiftest swimmers will find true love!

Or maybe you don’t have any trouble reading the classics but are looking for a spooky read for this Halloween season! Or, maybe you’re looking into starting to read some classic literature and want a recommendation for something a little spooky. My favourite book that fits into both of these ideals is Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

IMG-3656Title: Dracula

Author: Bram Stoker

Genre: Fiction, Horror, Gothic

Blurb: When Jonathan Harker visits Transylvania to help Count Dracula purchase a London house, he makes horrifying discoveries in his client’s castle. Soon afterwards, disturbing incidents unfold in England: an unmanned ship is wrecked; strange puncture marks appear on a young woman’s neck; and a lunatic asylum inmate raves about the imminent arrival of his ‘Master’. In the ensuing battle of wits between the sinister Count and a determined group of adversaries, Bram Stoker created a masterpiece of the horror genre, probing into questions of identity, sanity and the dark corners of Victorian sexuality and desire.

If you’re already a fan of this book, or it sounds like something you’d enjoy, then maybe you’d appreciate the recommendation of two sequels to the original written by Kate Cary.

Title: BloodlineIMG-3652

Author: Kate Cary

Genre: Fiction, Horror, Gothic

Blurb: When Mary’s childhood sweetheart returns from the war, she barely recognises the boy she fell in love with. John is tormented by nightmares – not only the horrors of battle, but the grisly midnight exploits of his captain, Quincey Harker. So when Harker appears in England, Mary is determined to resist his sinister charm. But Harker’s gaze rests on other prey – a bride to restore Count Dracula’s poisonous bloodline. A nightmare becomes reality. Mary soon discovers that the Dynasty or Dracula reaches further than she could possibly imagine. A new seductive evil walks among the living…

IMG-3651Title: Reckoning

Author: Kate Cary

Genre: Fiction, Horror, Gothic

Blurb: Mary Seward thought she has escaped the horrors of Transylvania. But now, back in England, she has terrible nightmares, fears the darkness, and sees vampires everywhere. When a strange virus weakens her father, Mary suspects that there’s a far more sinister force at work. Then Mary’s worst nightmare comes true: Quincey Harker, heir to Dracula’s bloodline, returns to England. So terrifying yet so seductive… How can Mary resist? Quincey’s lust for blood will not be easily forsaken. The first temptation is never the strongest…

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These sequels are a wonderfully spooky way to continue such a classic horror story. They don’t take anything away from the original but are a great way of continuing a story that is so beloved. Also, I always felt like this was a true case of fanfiction in its finest – a continuation of a world and plot but without attempting to rewrite characters who are already so distinctive.

So! What are your thoughts on these recommendations? Are you a fan of parodies or are they something that you’re interested in checking out?

I know a lot of people may have preconceptions about parody novels ruining the original story that they’re based on but I must say that with Quirk Classics, this isn’t something you should be worried about. The additions of zombies or sea monsters are done in combination with the classic story, not in spite of it and is a wonderful way to spice up a story that some might be initially put off by.

Have you read any of these books? Did you enjoy them? Or maybe some of these books are new to you! Will you be adding any to your TBR list? I’d love to know! 🎃📚

You can always find me over on Instagram and Twitter if you’d like to discuss any of these books (or any others that I’ve featured) in more detail 😌

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6 thoughts on “Classics with a Spooky Twist: Getting into Literature with the help of Parodies

  1. I’m definitely one of those people who struggle to get into ‘classic’ books. I love the sound of these! I’d heard of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and I’m really tempted to watch the movie that came out as well. And I’ve only ever heard great things about Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I love all things supernatural so I’ll definitely be checking these books out. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

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