Book Log #101: Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, by Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters

It was pretty much inevitable that, after loving Pride and Prejudice and Zombies as much as I did, I’d have to check out Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, the followup offering by the same press. In a nutshell: not as fun for me as P&P&Z, although it did still have its redeeming qualities.

I’ll say right out that unlike Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility never seized my attention nearly so much–in no small part because S&S didn’t have the absolutely amazing A&E adaptation to recommend it. (Mmm, Colin Firth as Darcy!) I do actually own a copy of S&S, but I didn’t remember a thing about it. So I went into Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters not knowing at all what to expect. Aside from, well, sea monsters.

This is a Britain where for reasons that are never revealed, all aquatic life in the world has suddenly turned seethingly hostile to humanity. Humanity has had to respond accordingly by altering social customs to place high value upon swimming, sailing, fishing, and any other skill that will improve one’s chances against oceangoing menance. In this setting, we have the Dashwood sisters exiled from their childhood home (as per the original) and embarking upon adventures involving monsters, pirates, a suitor cursed with slimy tentacles growing on his chin, and mysterious natives chanting prayers to unspeakable creatures of the deep (not really as per the original at all). There’s even a bit of steampunky interest when the sisters visit Sub-Marine Station Beta.

All of which are fun elements to throw into a story, but for me, they just didn’t mesh nearly as seamlessly as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies did. There are moments of humor–and I will give this book props for never descending into blatant sexual innuendo or jokes about bodily functions, which was P&P&Z’s one failing.

But it never quite got to the point of unrepentantly sailing past stupid and all the way into “awesome”, I fear. That said? “That was pretty neat” is still not bad at all. Three stars.

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Angela Korra'ti

As Angela Highland, Angela is the writer of the Rebels of Adalonia epic fantasy series with Carina Press. As Angela Korra'ti, she writes the Free Court of Seattle urban fantasy series. She's also an amateur musician and devoted fan of Newfoundland and Quebecois traditional music.