(CNN) — Helen Fielding's latest novel on Bridget Jones isn't even out yet and it's already reportedly a shocker.
This weekend, The Sunday Times published excerpts from Fielding's upcoming book, "Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy," that reveal a crucial character, Mr. Darcy, has been killed off.
Cue the collective gasps of horror from around the world.
Fielding first introduced heroine Bridget Jones in 1996 with her best-selling "Bridget Jones's Diary," a cheeky look at a 30-something single woman's adventures with life and love in London. During that initial installment, Bridget gets to know the prickly but sweet Mark Darcy, and in the follow-up, 1999's "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason," he proposes.
But by the time we get to "Mad About the Boy," Darcy is dead and Bridget is a 51-year-old widowed mother of two. (At least they got to have kids before he kicked the bucket -- the reason behind which is still unknown.)
Fielding said when the new novel was announced that Bridget would be in a different place with "Mad About the Boy." "My life has moved on and Bridget's will move on, too," the author said in February. "I hope people will have as much fun reading it, as I am writing it."
That's questionable, considering some of the intense reactions fans have had to the news of Darcy's death.
"Just found out Mark Darcy, from the #BridgetJones sequel, was killed off !!!! I can't handle this!" said one fan. "Helen Fielding killed off Mark Darcy in the new Bridget Jones book? My hopeless romantic heart is devastated," said another.
Given that these reactions have poured in on Twitter, the conversation does occasionally turn hyperbolic: "The news said that Mark darcy gets killed off in the 3rd Bridget Jones, my life has ended," tweeted one distraught fan. Posted another: "If Mark Darcy is really dead I have no reason to live anymore. #overlydramatic #bridgetjones #whywouldshedothis"
Yet another clung to some "Dexter"-inspired hope: "Could it be that Mark Darcy fakes his own death & ends up as a lumberjack in the Pacific Northwest?" the user queried.
Either way, it is apparent that Bridget has moved on. In the Sunday Times excerpt, she describes her indecision between attending pal Talitha's 60th birthday party, and spending time with her "toy boy," a nearly-30-year-old named Roxster.
Both "Bridget Jones's Diary" and "The Edge of Reason" were adapted into movies starring Renee Zellweger as Bridget and Colin Firth as Mark Darcy, and a third movie is expected to be on the way. At this point, we're not sure if Firth should be quite so excited.