September 5, 2013

Review: Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange & Deadly #1)
Author: Susan Dennard
Release Date: July 24th, 2012
Publisher: HarperTeen
Page Count: 388
Source: Finished copy from BEA2013
Rating: I would like every book I ever read for the rest of my life to emulate the awesome of this book. Thanks in advance, world.
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.

[Summary Source: Goodreads]

The story starts with Eleanor Fitt trying to figure out where her brother, Elijah, is and why he hasn't come home yet. Instead she encounters these zombies (The Dead) that have started popping up in Philadelphia. But these zombies aren't just zombies, they're the dead being reanimated by a Necromancer - a Necromancer Eleanor believes has kidnapped Elijah. Not knowing what else to do, Eleanor keeps what she's found out about her brother's whereabouts from her mother and goes to the Spirit-Hunters for help. Greatness ensues.

Let's break this down:

So normally I don't like paranormal books but A) this one's also steampunk B) the paranormal aspect of this book is magic/fantasy-based because of the whole Necromancer angle and C) this book is made of pure awesome, so it doesn't really matter what genre it falls under.

Let us now talk about this pure awesome.

I'm pretty sure my favorite part of the book is the bad-assery. Eleanor starts off the book as this lady who isn't quite happy with her lot in life but as long as she has her brother, she can handle whatever's to come. But then she find out she doesn't have her brother because he's been kidnapped. This is when Eleanor stops being who she's expected to be and does whatever she has to do to get her brother back - even if it means hunting down and hanging around with Spirit-Hunters (AKA the lowest class of people you can hang around, apparently).

I love how independent, stubborn and very unafraid Eleanor is. Or rather, I think she is afraid but she doesn't let that fear stop her from reaching her end goal. Instead it kind of pushes her to her end goal. And even though what happens when she reaches that end is pretty obvious to me from early on (I really think the more I read the better I get at figuring out the answers to the mysteries books present me) the way Eleanor handles it is pretty outstanding to me.

Basically, what I'm saying is that Eleanor is the freaking best.

But Eleanor isn't the only awesome character in this story. There's also Clarence Wilcox, who I love, hate and feel sorry for all in one book. Allison Wilcox is entertaining in her own right. Eleanor's mother is EXACTLY who you'd expect her to be and you can't fault her for that. Jie Chen is the most perfect sidekick there ever was - like, not even the slightest bit dramatic, taking names and kicking ass. I also love Joseph, who's the brains of the Spirit-Hunter operation. Throughout the entire book I kept thinking he was much older which, based off reading Book 2, I don't think he actually is that much older than the rest, but I like that it seems like he is.

And then, obviously, there's Daniel Sheridan. Sure, Clarence is the love interest for a bit in Book 1, but the sun clearly revolves around Daniel. He's the most wonderful character: tortured, sullen, rough and yet somehow kind. Obviously the tension between Daniel and Eleanor is off the charts and it's the tension I love best so PLEASE, keep that coming.

Based on everything I said above, I think it's pretty clear that I love this book because of how character driven it is. Yeah, there's a lot of action and the plot is just dripping with secrets and intrigue, but the characters are so solid and consistent that I honestly believe in everything they do and say.

The long and short of it?

Plot: A fun, steampunk-y romp.
World Building: I'm not totally sure I could draw you a map of what Susan Dennard's 1876 Philadelphia looks like but I honestly don't care - this book is too brilliant to care about the landscape.
Character Development: The characters are what carry this book and they do it wonderfully.
Prose: The prose is just the right mix of Victorian/Steampunk and modern to keep me so very engaged for 388 pages.
Would I Recommend This Book?: 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.

I'm sorry, I'm off swooning over Daniel Sheridan (AKA the newest addition to my Book Boyfriend List). Please leave your thoughts in the comments below and I'll get back to you as soon as possible. 


  1. Ha, I just read ths and posted my review early this week. I definitely liked this a lot, too. Eleanor is awesome, and oh my gosh, I loved Daniel. And Jie, too, although I got sick of her always saying "yeah" at the end of every line.

    Glad yhou liked this one.

  2. Daniel = awesome. I ADORED him. I can't wait to get my hands on book 2 so I can read more about him. GAH.

    I loved Eleanor, too! I love that she didn't fit in, and that eventually she was okay with that. She grew a lot, which was awesome.

  3. Eleanor and I would totally be friends. She's so sassy and impertinent. It's great. DANIEL. :)

  4. I basically had to put Daniel on my list of book boyfriends immediately after reading this book, so you are not alone. He's just such a great character, and he would TOTALLY be my type.

    But seriously, the characters in this book - amazing. The story - fairly predictable at points, but still rad. You MUST read the next one ASAP!


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