Title: Strange and Ever After (Something Strange and Deadly #3)
Author: Susan Dennard
Release Date: July 22nd, 2014
Page Count: 400
Source: ARC from Jeffrey, Jeremy & Charlee (I have great friends)
First Reaction: I am a puddle on the floor. A puddle of feels on the floor.
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He took her brother, he took her mother, and now, Marcus has taken her good friend Jie. With more determination than ever to bring this sinister man to justice, Eleanor heads to the hot desert streets of nineteenth-century Egypt in hopes of ending this nightmare. But in addition to her increasingly tense relationships with Daniel, Joseph, and her demon, Oliver, Eleanor must also deal with her former friend, Allison, who has curiously entangled herself in Eleanor’s mission.
With the rising dead chomping at her every move and Jie’s life hanging in the balance, Eleanor is convinced that her black magic will see her through to the bitter end. But there will be a price. Though she and the Spirit Hunters have weathered every battle thus far, there will be consequences to suffer this time—the effects of which will be irreversible. And when it’s over, only some will be able to live a strange and ever after.
[Summary Source: Goodreads]
This book starts in Paris. Eleanor, Oliver, Daniel, and Joseph are scrambling to get their things together and go after Marcus, who has kidnapped Jie and is on his way to Marseille by train. Just as the group is about to set off, Allison, Eleanor's ex-friend/acquaintance shows up with terrible news, and joins the group as they leave Paris.
Now, with Allison in tow, Eleanor must deal with the news Allison has brought as well as the absence of Jie and the deep mistrust that settled between her and Oliver at the end of the last book. Eleanor also continues to struggle with her powers. Is accepting her powers and learning how to use them the right thing to do or is pushing aside the darkness what's best? This book isn't really made up of black and white, it's more like tons of grey and Eleanor is left to navigate all of it during and incredibly stressful situation.
Tied to Eleanor's internal power struggle are her relationships with each of her friends. Oliver is attached to her but is unhappy about it. Daniel is in love with her but, as a pair, they don't quite fit together - they just love each other and hope for the best with the details. Joseph distrusts Eleanor, Jie cares about Eleanor but is conflicted because of her loyalties to Joseph, and Allison seems to be on board with everything, but she's always proven to be a wildcard. But each of these characters exist aside of Eleanor. They have their own struggles and issues outside of what's happening with Eleanor and are completely developed and delightful. I adore each of them just as much as I adore Eleanor (because who doesn't love a tough girl who's going to fight for what she wants?).
Yet another one of my favorite things about this book is the world building. When I started this series I almost thought it was about zombies. Then I realized it was about necromancy, which led around to Egyptian mythology. And that's perfect because while the series started in Philadelphia, it made it's way through Paris and ends in Egypt. So really the places featured in the book match the foundation of the story and lead to the most fantastic line up of everything I can think of.
I also like to mention the villain, especially when they're as impossible as Marcus. While the Spirit Hunters try to get ahead of Marcus, they can't. He's almost invincible. But his eventual downfall doesn't happen because the Spirit Hunters get ahead. It's because of sacrifice from so many of our main characters. And it's that sacrifice that breaks your heart but also makes the story so fantastic and wonderful.
Oh, yeah, that's right, this book totally broke my heart. I has such a book hangover, I was ruined for all other books for weeks. It's been a while since I read this book and, every time I think about it, I still get sad. But it's the good kind of sad. The sad that makes reading worth it, y'know? Like you're spending your time on the right books. Just make sure you have time to be ruined for all other books for a couple of days, okay?
The long and short of it?
Plot: A brilliant conclusion to a brilliant series.
World Building: Everything fits so well together and makes so much sense and is so intense and scary I'm still sitting here in awe.
Character Development: Every single character in this book is so fantastically developed they are all my babies. I love them.
Prose: So deliciously perfect.
Would I Recommend This Book?: I'd recommend this series. Binge it or read it one book at a time, this is such a genius paranormal trilogy. There's action, ass kicking, steamy kissing, sadness, joy, murderous villains, important philosophical life question, and other fantastic things everyone really needs to read about.
Have your read the first two books in the series? Do you love Eleanor? Or, better yet, do you love Daniel? How about the Egyptian mythology? Tell me everything in the comments below.