Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard {review}

Something Strange and Deadly
by Susan Dennard
♦publisher: HarperTeen
♦release date: July 24th 2014
♦hardcover, 388 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦series: Something Strange and Deadly, book 1
There's something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia...

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family as fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walkers 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 the maddeningly stubborn yet handsome Daniel, the situation becomes dire. An now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.

Review:  Something Strange and Deadly wastes no time dallying around it’s wild premise; from it’s chaotic first scene in a Victorian train station, where Eleanor Fitt awaits her brother’s arrival, we get a taste of what’s in store---the dead are rising from their graves in Pittsburg, and thanks to a message oddly delivered by a rotting corpse, Eleanor knows her brother is somehow involved.  To find out what has happened to him, or if he is even still alive, Eleanor puts her trust in a group of misfit spirit-hunters.  They’ve been hired to rid the city of the dead, but can’t seem to gain the city’s confidence.  As Eleanor gets more and more involved with them and their work, she uncovers a few family secrets that have been around her all along. 

Eleanor is a fun character, spirited and torn between helping her mother and straining against her tight control. I thought it was funny that she often referred to her as “dragon mother”.  Her mother has been skirting close to madness since their father died, and she’ll do anything, including bartering Eleanor’s hand in marriage, to secure a place back in high society.  Eleanor also rails against the restraints of strict manner and corsets, especially after meeting Jie, the Chinese spirit hunter girl who dresses like a boy.  Jie was a favorite character, she was so fierce! And there was also Daniel.  A feisty and fiery start between Daniel and Eleanor simmers into a possibly romance and some really sweet moments.   

What sets this aside from other zombie books, is that it’s really not about the zombies.  They are really just a small part in this wild tale about magic and necromancy, science and power, and a girl who is trying to find both her lost brother and her own place in the world.  So excited to have two more books in this series to dive into!

One small note, and this is a a plea to the publisher and publishers everywhere! One of the things that came up several times is that Eleanor had to stand up for herself against attacks on her less-than-sticklike figure. I would have loved to see Eleanor’s real stature better represented on the cover. Whoever that super skinny thing is on the cover, it’s not Eleanor! That's not, however, why I held back a rating---the story was fun and entertaining, but really quite predictable when it came to the mystery of who the necromancer was!

Find Susan Dennard online: Website  •  Twitter  •  Facebook

Purchase:  •  BookDepository  •  Indiebound


  1. I've been hearing about the books in this series for years now, but I've never managed to read any of them. After reading this review I'm starting to regret it and especially because it's part zombie! I've never read a zombie book but I'm definitely ready to dive into some different books this year! :D

  2. Wow, this is a great review. I completely agree with your plea to the publishers - all the girls on YA novels are always so perfect (perfectly thin, have percfect hair and perfect dresses), but the actual heroines are usually nothing like that!
    I have this one on my to-read list - it sounds really cool.

    Kaja @ Of Dragons and Hearts (