September 8, 2013

Review: A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard

A Darkness Strange and Lovely (Something Strange & Deadly #2)
Author: Susan Dennard
Release Date: July 23rd, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Page Count: 406
Source: ARC from BEA2013
Rating: More perfection for the most perfect series of perfection.
Following an all-out battle with the walking Dead, the Spirit Hunters have fled Philadelphia, leaving Eleanor alone to cope with the devastating aftermath. But there’s more trouble ahead—the evil necromancer Marcus has returned, and his diabolical advances have Eleanor escaping to Paris to seek the help of Joseph, Jie, and the infuriatingly handsome Daniel once again. When she arrives, however, she finds a whole new darkness lurking in this City of Light. As harrowing events unfold, Eleanor is forced to make a deadly decision that will mean life or death for everyone.

[Summary Source: Goodreads]

Things for Eleanor haven't been going well. Her family life sucks, Allison Wilcox is very, very mad and there are creepy things chasing Eleanor around town. But when the creepy things get more and more threatening and even start coming after her mother, Eleanor decides the only way to fix things is go find the Spirit-Hunters in Paris. So Eleanor takes a boat to Paris and creepy zombie/Necromancer things begin to take place abroad.

Let's break this down:


Just when I thought there was nothing that could make me love this series more, Susan Dennard decides to set Book 2 in Paris. PARIS. AKA basically my most favorite place I've ever been.

So okay, I loved this book because it's set in Paris, but also because of Eleanor. In Book 1, Eleanor's brother goes missing and so Eleanor does everything she has to - including dumping all the nonsense she put up with from her friends and family, as well as society - in order to get him back. As a result of dumping everything she'd ever known, she ends joining up with the Spirit-Hunters. They become her normal. But in Book 2, Eleanor is questioning them, just as she questioned everything else in Book 1.

I think it all boils down to her relationship with her brother, Elijah, just as it did in book one. Since Necromancy powers seem to run in the family, Eleanor also has the abilities her brother has. At first she's afraid of them. She doesn't want anything to do with them - which Joseph agrees with. But then Oliver shows up and things begin to change. Oliver presents a whole series of reasons why Eleanor has to embrace Necromancy. Compelling reasons. Life or death reasons. Reasons that Joseph, Jie and Daniel can't seem to understand.

And that's why I think this book is so important. Without this book we (the reader) wouldn't understand Eleanor's conflict. We'd just think: Spirit-Hunters = Good and Necromancer = Bad and then place Eleanor with the good guys and walk away from all of this. But most things in real life aren't quite so black and white, nor are there ever only two options. Which is something I think Eleanor figures out in this book. She doesn't side with the Spirit-Hunter or Oliver or anything attached to either of these groups. By the end of the book she's kind of doing her own thing, with one goal in mind for the moment and the intention to figure out the rest maybe after.

What I'm trying to explain here is that this whole thing is insanely complex and kind of has me running around like a headless chicken. I couldn't tell you who to trust. And that includes Eleanor.

Yeah. You heard me. I don't trust my own narrator.

[But I do really like her. Especially when she ditches the corset, eats all the food and remains a mega badass.]

I also still really love how this book is less about the zombies and romance and more about the characters. Yeah, there's a kiss or two (and those kisses are pure brilliance when they occur) but this 'ship is complicated and a slow-build kind. Although I am hoping this simmer will turn into a full out boil but the end of Book 3. In a really big way.

Oh, and speaking of endings, I couldn't guess the big baddie of the book in this one the way I could in the first book. And I have no idea and zero guesses as to where this whole thing is going. I just know I'm definitely going to love every second of it.

The long and short of it?

Plot: The continued brilliance of this plot is so pleasing to my reading addicted soul.
World Building: All ideas of who's right and who's wrong are completely shattered. The grey area created in this book is so vast and stunning that I honestly have no idea how this book is going to end, but I know the options developed by the world building in this book are going to make it VERY interesting.
Character Development: The good remain the good, the bad are suddenly somehow less bad and Eleanor is struggling to figure it all out with an insane amount of grace.
Prose: Another high point of this book is the narration. Eleanor wouldn't be half the character she is without Susan Dennard's brilliant prose.
Would I Recommend This Book?: When I reviewed Something Strange and Deadly I noted that "If you like steampunk or paranormal, this is a book for you. Also, if you love character driven books, you really need pick this one up immediately. Finally, if you're into tension filled romance, you're definitely going to want to give this one a read." All of this still stands. Also: PARIS.

I'm really still off swooning somewhere as far as this book is concerned. Leave your comments in the comments below. I'll be sure to continue trying to convince you to read this series.


  1. I've never been to Paris. *grumbles*

    "Especially when she ditches the corset, eats all the food and remains a mega badass." <- YES

    Though I did want to kick her for not telling people the truth. STOP MAKING TROUBLES, ELEANOR. sighs.

  2. Love how you pointed out the conflict between good and evil and how everything isn't so black and white. I loved that Eleanor had to explore her powers and her perceptions of them changed. It was such an interesting aspect to the story and I loved how she finally said screw it, I'm doing my own thing!

    Also... the food? Yum!

  3. So, um, I might have demanded you read this in your review of the first book. GLAD YOU DID. It's amazing, isn't it? I love how Susan has added new developments to Eleanor's story. I also love the Paris setting. And Daniel, always Daniel.


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