Saturday, September 1, 2012

Book Review: 'Something Strange and Deadly' by Susan Dennard

Provided via Edelweiss - Publisher: Harper Teen- Release Date: 7/24/12

Via Goodreads:

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.

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Susan Dennard is a writer turned marine biologist turned writer again. Something Strange and Deadly is her debut novel.

Among the traits she shares with her heroine Eleanor are a weakness for Shakespeare quotes, a healthy appetite for baked goods, and an insatiable curiosity. Sadly, Susan does not get to wear a corset or wave a parasol on a daily basis.

“Even the greatest feats of man lose their luster when one's head is filled with storm clouds.”

You know I love Steampunk and you also know how much I am obsessed with zombies, so... the combination of these two in Something Strange and Deadly just about required an emergency pacemaker implant to restart my excited and over-tasked little heart.

"Yep. Looks like the awesome combination of zombies and the Victorian Era plus cool gadgetry was more than she could it."

So, the scoop is: Eleanor is living in a 19th century Philadelphia where the dead have been mysteriously coming to life. Although this doesn't properly freak everyone out as much as you think it might ("Oh, bother, the zombies have attacked the newspaper stand...again..."), Eleanor is sufficiently panicked due to a mysterious letter from her brother...delivered by a zombie.

"Special delivery for one Eleanor! Eleanor, come get your package! Don't forget to tip..."

In an effort to discover her brother's whereabouts, and zombie status, Eleanor enlists the help of some professional paranormal experts. With the assistance of their experience and gadgets (I love gadgets!), the gang sets about solving the mystery of the pesky undead.

"Out of my way foul beast! I'm trying to take my morning constitutional! Egads!"

I loved the setting and felt that Dennard's world-building and research was amazing. Eleanor is an old-fashioned Kick Ass Heroine who blazes her own trail despite the restrictions of the age (and the attire.) Her cohorts are interesting enough to be novels unto themselves and I would love to read a prequel of their origin story.

"Good God, man! I simply refuse to move another inch until you procure me some pants and a t-shirt!"

Something Strange and Deadly is a great fast-paced and bloody roller coaster ride. It will now occupy a special place in my bookshelf (between Steampunk and Zombies) and was one of my favorite spooky, fun and mysterious reads of the summer.

Check out more awesome book trailers and author interviews on Steph's Stacks' You Tube channel!

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