July 8, 2012

Review: Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

Something Strange and Deadly
Series: Something Strange and Deadly #1
Author: Susan Dennard
Genre: YA/Paranormal
Release Date: July 24, 2012


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.


With all the hype surrounding this book on the Internet, I went into reading it with high hopes. I am glad that I wasn't disappointed. Something Strange and Deadly takes the reader back into an alternate past - to 1876 Philadelphia - where a necromancer is using black magic to resurrect the dead. The Dead are rising from their graves and walking around the city, but nobody can seem to determine how this is being done or what the person in charge really wants. In the middle of all the chaos is our heroine, Eleanor Fitt, who is an adventurous lady of means. She is awaiting her brother's return from New York City and gets trapped in the middle of the problem of the Dead. She becomes increasingly worried for her brother and finds herself helping an interesting bunch of people - The Spirit Hunters - who have come to fix the zombie problem.

The setting for this book is perfect in every way. Philadelphia of 1876 seems an almost believable place for zombies to start raising from the ground. The presence of the World's Fair in the book provides added validity and grounds the storyline in history. Old folklore and myths about bells tied to coffins are retold throughout the novel, which makes it seem all the more thrilling and fitting for the story to take place in this time period. Dennard writes her alternative history Philadelphia with such skill that it takes little imagination to believe that it is actually history itself. 

The characters, especially Miss Fitt, are fun and complex. They all have unique personalities and quirks, which immediately endear them to the reader. We empathize with Eleanor's distress for her brother as well as her tenacity to find out the truth and not back down because she is a "lady." I can't praise the writing of this book enough. It was very well written and fast-paced, but with the exact right amount of tension and setting. The character and world building were superb. The only problem I had with the book was the ending. I am a big sucker for perfect endings and I tend to get a bit pouty when things don't turn out the way I want them to. Otherwise, this is a great book that begs to be devoured and I highly recommend it to everyone.


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