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Eve Conte

Jane Eyre: From Gothic Heroine To Vampyre Slayer

Thanks to the recent surge of mash-ups of classic literature with the supernatural, the literary heroines of the 19th century are finding a new audience with today’s readers. How many people knew who Elizabeth Bennett was before she became an expert zombie killer in last year’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? Even if you had a passing familiarity with Jane Austen’s 1813 masterpiece Pride and Prejudice, knowing already how Elizabeth stood out from the rest of her superficial ilk, it’s doubtful that you found her to be, shall we say, badass. After reading how she’s able to roundhouse-kick the head off an attacking ‘unmentionable’ while adhering to propriety, I bet you do now.

The latest literary character to go badass is Jane Eyre, who is now a slayer of various supernatural beings, in Sherri Browning Erwin’s new Jane Slayre. While Charlotte Brontë’s Jane always manages to land on her feet, in Erwin’s version, she also has the added inherent ability to defeat vampyres, zombies, and other creatures of the night no matter how downtrodden her personal life may be. With a name like Slayre, you’d think the young orphaned Jane would question her heritage, but she finds out soon enough that slaying is in her blood. But Slayre is more than just a clever play on the Eyre surname (though, it is quite clever): Of all the mash-ups out there, I’d say having Jane Eyre combating supernatural beings is not so far fetched, considering that before the reinvented Jane ever picked up the stake, she was already a well-established Gothic heroine.

[Read more for an analogy between Jane Slayre and Luke Skywalker, as well as possible spoilers for a 163-year-old book…]

Found Treasure: Wayland Drew’s Dragonslayer Novelization

Today marks the Vernal Equinox, the date in which the amount of daytime and nighttime are equal, bringing to end the long dark winter nights, ushering longer sunlit days. It’s typically a time of celebration, but in the kingdom of Urland, the Equinox is a day of woe. Urland’s King Casiodorus long ago made a pact with Verminthrax Pejorative, the feared dragon that terrorizes his lands: The dragon will leave the kingdom in peace in exchange for a virgin sacrifice offered up twice a year on the Vernal and Autumnal Equinox. 

In the sixth century on the Vernal Equinox, a small band of men from Urland, led by the young Valerian, make a three-week journey to Craggenmore, the home of the sorcerer Ulrich. Once there, they beseech the sorcerer to rid their village of the dragon so that no other women, who are chosen by lottery to become the sacrifice, will be sent to their deaths. After Ulrich agrees to help, he and his young apprentice Galen join the group in their journey back to Urland, but along the way, the King’s men impede them and kill the wizard, leaving no one but the inexperienced Galen to defeat the beast.

So begins the events of Dragonslayer, the 1981 dark fantasy film directed by Matthew Robbins, who co-wrote the screenplay with Hal Barwood. The DVD, which was re-released last year by Paramount as part of their I Love The 80’s series, is hard to come by. A more difficult acquisition is the novelization by Wayland Drew, which I never even knew existed until I happened upon it in the used books section of a comic book store in Arizona when I was on vacation there last month.

[Continue reading to learn more about Dragonslayer than you ever thought possible…]

Survival Unlikely In Matt Youngmark’s Zombocalypse Now

I think we’ve all come to terms with the fact that a zombie apocalypse is inevitable, right? Current pop culture worships at the zombie altar even with all the books and movies out there warning us of our impending doom at the hands—and jaws—of those fiendish flesh-eaters. If some virus doesn’t cause this outbreak, then surely our willing it to happen will bring it on.

And although you might think you’re prepared for this epidemic, thanks to your dog-eared copy of The Zombie Survival Guide along with multiple viewings of Shaun Of The Dead, let’s face it, your greatest chance of survival depends mostly on your ability to make split-second decisions. Do you make a run for it or try to face your zombie attacker mano-a-mano? Do you reach for a nearby baseball bat or go out of your safety zone in hopes of grabbing a gun? These are decisions that may cost you your life.

So, if you ever wondered how you’d react during a zombie outbreak, now’s your chance to not only find out, but also change your mind if your initial reaction turns out badly, with the choose-your-adventure novel Zombocalypse Now.

Written by Matt Youngmark, Zombocalypse Now sets up a scenario in one or two pages that will pit you against some sort of zombie attack. If you’re unfamiliar with the format, at the end of the set-up, you get to choose which way to go with your adventure (on average, there’s usually two choices). From there you’ll be directed to another page within the book, where you’ll once again be faced with more choices. After a few page turns of this, you’ll discover how all of your decisions paid off with a finite ending.

[Read more about your slim chances of survival after the break…]