Author: Susan Dennard
Published: July 24th, 2012
Series: Something Strange and Deadly #1
Genre: YA paranormal historical
POV: 1st, past tense
Source: Won from author
Rating: 4 out of 5
"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."
Out of all YA novels that were released back in the year 2012, SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY was extremely high on my will-beg-for-this-book wishlist. I may not be a huge zombie fan, but something about this story called to me and drew my curiosity. Fortunately, Susan Dennard's writing and story didn't disappoint. Eleanor Fitt is a determined, take-charge kind of gal, which immediately made it so much easier to enjoy her narration. From the beginning, this story sets off in an excited rush that never seems to dissipate – instead, it builds and grows until the story reaches its conclusion. Filled with fun, flirting, explosions, adventure, action, a lovely historical setting, a healthy dose of steampunk, and some creepy zombies (aim for the knees!), Dennard skillfully weaves it all together and creates SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY – or, one fantastic story.
Highlights: I'm still surprised by one aspect of Eleanor's conclusion1. The setting is wonderfully depicted. I really felt like I was stepping into another time, and I commend Dennard for writing the setting so wonderfully and realistically. Eleanor's spunk and determination is admirable, she's a protagonist worthy of rooting for. The romance was nicely done, even if I was initially concerned that Dennard would include a love triangle since it seemed to appear that things were going that way for a bit. But, it soon became very obvious that only one intriguing young man captured Eleanor's attention. Also, the Spirit-Hunters = Awesome.
Lowlights: The villain of the story was incredibly easy to guess, right from the beginning. WAY too easy. Please give me a challenge next time, Dennard! Eleanor's mom was a bit frustrating, too. I wish the Spirit-Hunters had been in the story a bit more so I could learn more about them, but I assume there will be more of them in A DARKNESS STRANGE AND LOVELY.
1. Spoiler! She loses a hand. Some authors like to give their protagonist a magical cure where they survives with only minor injuries, so I'm grateful that Dennard didn't take the easy way out by making sure her heroine healed perfectly.