Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Review: Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly #1) by Susan Dennard
Release Date: July 24, 2012 
Publisher: Harper Teen
Source: Publisher for Review
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.
I love historical fiction. I will probably read any historical fiction book that catches my eye (and most do) because there is something fascinating about history. Books about zombies, though, are ones I am less likely to pick up but coupled with historical fiction, it’s a book that demands to be read. I wasn’t sure what I was going to get with Something Strange and Deadly, Susan Dennard’s debut novel but man, I am so glad it came in the mail for me! Something Strange and Deadly was a unique look at zombies and well, I loved it.

For starters, Eleanor was a character I knew I was going to love. She’s winey and can act like she’s a big deal and while most of those characteristics would be bad, I liked it in this case. The book is set in the 1800s and it’s quiet accurate. The fact that Eleanor has such a character change makes this book ten times better. It takes a while for Eleanor to change and accept people for who they are and it was good character development. And while she might have wined, she was still a very strong girl. She had to take care of her mother and in a time where women were not given much power, it was a lot for her to handle.

One of the biggest issues I have with people not liking Eleanor’s mother and other girls in this book is the fact that it is accurate to the time that the story is set in. in today’s society, a young girl doesn’t have to get married and most moms don’t have to worry about that. But it was completely different in the 1800s. Women couldn’t do much but get married and raise a family and take care of the house. As much as we, 21st century females like our independence, it would be inaccurate to make it that different in a (zombie) historical novel.


The plot was fantastic and I loved how Dennard included all of the new inventions of the time that were, well, new. The experience of seeing something new and inventive makes a person excited and I felt like Dennard captured that feeling quiet well in this novel. Though an aspect was rather predictable, my favorite part has to be the fact that while this book has romance, it was not the main focus. The romance develops and deepens as the story continues and well, I loved that! The ending was perfect and open ended enough for anything else to happen but again, that aspect allowed this to be a book about Eleanor stepping out of her comfort zone and seeing the world in a whole new light.

I guess I have only a few complaints about this book. For one, I think the romance of the book was very formulated. It was the basic girl-and-boy-meet-and-they-hate-each-other-but-then-begin-to-like-each-other. While I liked the romantic interest, I wanted more from him. Second, I didn’t like that the zombies weren’t the main focus because after all, they are the ones ravaging Philadelphia! I’m sure the second book will address it and I understand that the author needed to set up the character and the world. Thirdly, the villain was way to obvious. I’ve guessed the villain in a mystery movie less than half way through, so for me, it was obvious who the bad guy was.

Overall, Something Strange and Deadly was a much more likable book than I thought. I am very much scared of scary thing like zombies and (sadly) the zombies weren’t scary in this book. Eleanor was a great protagonist and the love interest was great. I also learned a lot of Creole French, which is differently spelled than France French. Though it had its issues, Something Strange and Deadly is a book I’d recommend to lots of people!
Cover Comments: 
First Thoughts: A girl in a pretty dress? Really?
Comments: It's a historical fiction novel with zombies and the cover fits! I personally love the dress and it is very much the 1800s version of Coah (or your preference of designer clothing.) 
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