Monday, December 9, 2013

Review: Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

Title: Something Strange and Deadly 
Author: Susan Dennard
Publication Date: July 2012
Publisher: Harper Teen
Series: Something Strange and Deadly {Book 1}
Source: Library; hardcover
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
The year is 1876, and there’s something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia…

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she’s just read in the newspaper—

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor…from her brother.

Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she’ll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including their maddeningly stubborn yet handsome inventor, Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.


Eleanor Fitt's 1876 Philadelphia is unlike anything I have seen in history books. The most unusual part of it all? The Dead alarm that warns of their coming. When I read the blurb, I couldn't wait to read this The Walking Dead meets Pride and Prejudice circa 1876.

Eleanor was a bit of a mixed box for me. On one side, I completely understood her fears for her brother and her family which grew into her motivations for meeting the Spirit Hunters. I admired her determination and her slight rebelliousness against the society of the times. On the other side, I wish that there had been a little more development when it came to her character. It didn't feel like she had grown all that much with the story - she was steadfast in her refusal to get married, in her determination to find her brother, and to help the Spirit Hunters, all of which were fun to read. There was no evolving, no great discovery about herself, which would have made me devour the book like a Reese candy. 

I really fell in love with Dennard's world. She made it believable despite the strong paranormal overtones. It made it easy to fall into her story because the entire world was already caught up on the mythology she created for the Dead, and the novel required no background. Her writing is engaging and gripping, especially in the fight scenes. Once I reached the halfway point in the book, it was impossible to put down! 

I loved the romance in this novel. It was a slow, sweet dance, one that reminds me of the classics like Pride and Prejudice and Titanic. Truly, this was my favorite part of the entire novel. Eleanor's feelings for Daniel, weighed down by society and class, were the highlight of Something Strange and Deadly.

My only real disappointment with this novel is that I predicted a plot element about a hundred pages before it was revealed. Although this particular plot element was twisted around again, it took away some of the magic of the story for me. I guess I'm a little particular - I loved to be surprised, especially when it comes to paranormal YA. 

Final Thoughts: It probably doesn't look like it, but I did like this book. It has a lot of the elements that I love: romance, mystery, suspense, and the paranormal. I loved they were weaved so seamlessly together, using the characters to solidify each. I am looking forward to reading the next in the series, and hopefully the little qualms that have been bothering me can be settled.

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