Thursday, July 19, 2012

Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

Something Strange and Deadly
by Susan Dennard
Series: Something Strange and Deadly #1
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication date: July 24, 2012
Genre: YA Historical/Paranormal/Steampunk
Purchase: Barnes and Noble/Amazon/Book Depository

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.(synopsis from Goodreads)
Something Strange and Deadly is the first novel in Susan Dennard’s Something Strange and Deadly series. The tale takes place in Philadelphia, PA in the year 1876. I loved this steampunk zombie novel, featuring the feisty, sleuth protagonist Eleanor Fitt. I easily finished this novel in two evenings and look forward to reading more.

We are immediately immersed in the tale as Eleanor waits at the train station for her beloved brother, Elijah to arrive. When he doesn't arrive she heads to the telegram counter for news. The dead alarms begin to ring. This signals that zombies are in the station. Chaos breaks loose as people scramble to escape. Eleanor dives into the telegram booth and hides. When the window shatters and a zombie appears she just about faints. Instead of attacking her, it drops a telegram on her lap. Too frightened to read it she rushes home. Here she reads the message and discovers he won’t be returning. Eleanor begins to believe that the zombies have him. When she sees an article about Spirit Hunters, she sets off to get answers and hopefully some help. The tale that unfolds has moments of suspense, mystery, humor and a smidgeon of romance. The dead are rising from Laurel Hill Cemetery and a necromancer is controlling them. I became completely immersed in the tale as Eleanor tries to stop the dead and save her brother. 

Eleanor Fitt is sixteen and lives with her overbearing mother and maid. Her brother Elijah has been away for over two years. The families finances are crumbling and her mother is constantly spending money trying to impress others. I liked Eleanor; she is witty, inquisitive and brave. Her need for answers causes her to be reckless and her free spirit creates tension with her mother. Daniel is an inventor and member of the Spirit Hunters. He is cute, stubborn and quick to temper. He is also protective when it comes to Eleanor. I enjoyed their witty banter and Eleanor’s attraction to him caused me to giggle. While there is a tiny bit of romance, their story is just beginning. Other characters added suspense and mystery.

The world-building while at times predictable kept me entertained.  Dennard beautifully captures the era and some of its ridiculous society rules. She does this without overwhelming the reader in details and instead focuses on the characters and plot. The flow of this novel was wonderful. I would have liked more gadgetry but enjoyed the tools the Spirit Hunters used. The characters themselves and mystery kept me turning the pages. Discovering the necromancer and searching for clues was entertaining. The zombies are in the background of this tale, but when they do make appearances the scenes are delightful. While the tale felt complete, Dennard’s ending has hinted at what is to come. While I easily pieced together the clues regarding the necromancer it was fun to discover the reasons.

I recommend Something Strange and Deadly to fans of steampunk, zombies and character driven tales. I loved the mystery and suspense of this novel and the sweet budding romance. I look forward to A Darkness Strange and Lovely the second novel in this series due to publish in 2013.

I want to thank Harper Teen and Edelweiss for providing this ARC in exchange for my unbiased review.

I gave this novel 4 coffee cups out of 5. 
Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer Kimba The Caffeinated Book Reviewer Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer

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At July 19, 2012 at 1:01 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wohoo ! I'm so glad you loved this book, Kim. I really adored it too. Plus, Eleanor was such a delight. I agree that the plot was predictable, but still I really enjoyed reading it just like you did. :)
Great review as usual, Kim ! :)

At July 19, 2012 at 2:16 AM , Blogger Danny said...

So yes! I love character driven tales, so this is a plus for me. But, I am not the biggest fan of Zombies and Steampunk. I don't know why, but both genres never appealed to me.However, reviews like yours make me rethink this, especially since I see so many awesome reviews about this book...

At July 19, 2012 at 3:05 AM , Blogger Blodeuedd said...

I'd like this, zombies, the rules of that time. Not two things that goes well together :)

At July 19, 2012 at 7:28 AM , Blogger Giselle said...

Great review Kimba! I enjoyed this one too Eleanor's spunkyness was my fav part and the world was really well built and i loved how it wasn't overwhelming like some steampunks can be (which is why I'm not always a fan). I expected more zombies but you know me! haha.

At July 19, 2012 at 9:32 AM , Blogger Christina said...

Ha, I totally agree! Eleanor is seriously one of my favorite heroines. I love how she says what she's thinking and doesn't conform. This was a joy to read from beginning to end! Glad you liked it!

At July 19, 2012 at 9:44 AM , Blogger Christa @ Hooked on Books said...

I really enjoyed this book too! And I love when a novel is a complete story with seeds of a sequel, rather than having a cliff hanger ending

At July 19, 2012 at 11:01 AM , Blogger Jennifer @ A Librarians Library said...

Yay another zombie book to add to my TBR list! I am very glad to hear that this novel is entertaining and well-developed. I will definitely be checking it out!

At July 19, 2012 at 12:31 PM , Blogger Melissas Eclectic Bookshelf said...

I haven't really given steampunk or zombies a shot yet, but this sounds like a great option. Love the sound of the heroine and the world building in this one.

At July 19, 2012 at 1:06 PM , Blogger Heidi@Rainy Day Ramblings said...

Yeah! Steampunk, zombies and sweet romance! I am super excited to read this one! I believe I have it coming up next week! Glad you enjoyd it Kimba!

At July 19, 2012 at 1:52 PM , Anonymous Christy @ Love of Books said...

Eek .. I had to reschedule my post for next week. This was pretty damn good, though :)

At July 19, 2012 at 2:31 PM , Blogger Brandileigh2003 (Blkosiners Book Blog) said...

I definitely love character driven books, so thanks for the review. I'll have to check it out.
Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

At July 19, 2012 at 5:27 PM , Blogger Jenea Whittington said...

This can not come out fast enough. Great review, so glad you liked it.

Jenea @ Books Live Forever

At July 19, 2012 at 8:50 PM , Blogger Rebecca - Kindle Fever said...

Yay!! I'm so happy to hear you enjoyed it. :D It definitely sounds like something for me, so I'm happy to be reading it next. Fab review!

At July 19, 2012 at 9:57 PM , Blogger Sharon ObsessionwithBooks said...

I don't think I have read a Steampunk novel as yet and I am not a big zombie fan but your review makes me want to give it a try. I especially love character driven books and Eleanor & Daniel both sound great.

A wonderful review Kimba!

At July 19, 2012 at 10:32 PM , Blogger roro said...

this is on my wishlist
arg/ arg need a copy
lovely done kimba

At July 22, 2012 at 1:59 PM , Blogger Michelle @ Book Briefs said...

I have been reading a bunch of reviews on this book, and I have decided that it seems like a lighter zombie book than some of the others so it might be a good intro to the zombie craze. I have still not read any zombie book other than Cold Kiss by Amy Garvey and I don't really think that one counts. lol

I love that the era is captured really well. That's a big thing for me.

Thanks for the fantastic review Kimba :)

At July 22, 2012 at 2:36 PM , Blogger Chapter by Chapter said...

I literally just started this one today. I am so excited to read it! I didn't read our review yet, as I didn't want to sway my thoughts while reading it and writing the review, but I will make sure to come back to check out your thoughts!

Chapter by Chapter


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