Monday, July 23, 2012

Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

Book:  Something Strange and Deadly
Author:  Susan Dennard
Publisher:  Harper Collins
Date:  July 24, 2012
Source:  Publisher via Edelweiss
My grade:  A

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.

Initial reaction
Carriages, corsets and corpses?  Oh my!

Cover and Title
The title is win.  The cover?  Honestly, my first thought was that the girl on the cover looks a LOT like Carrie Bradshaw.  So, my second thought was “Oh!  Sex and the City and Zombies!”  Not what they were going for, I think.  I think they could do better on this cover, especially since this is an awesome steampunk....why not go more historical looking?

The plot, characters, etc.
You have to love a novel where the first line in the book is:    “Dead!” a woman screamed.  “It’s the Dead!”

That first line really sums up this book.  It was non-stop action and intrigue from beginning to end.  Much like Eleanor, I was caught up in everything and had no idea who to trust and who to believe.  The way this book was written, I felt like I was the one living the story.  What a rush!

Now, if you are a person who is looking for a book version of Night of the Living Dead, this book is not for you.  The zombies are not the real plot point here, they are more like a plot device.  Now, they do attack and eat people, but there’s no gross description of it and no gory pictures of zombies going all “nom, nom, nom” on people’s brains and stuff.  So if that’s what you’re looking for, you will be disappointed.

If you are looking for an awesome mystery book in an historical setting that has tons of action, a touch of romance and a good dose of the supernatural, then you will want to read this book ASAP.  

So here’s the deal.  This is an alternate reality where people believe in zombies.  They have “Dead alarms” that sound when a zombie has risen from a grave.  It takes place in 1872 in Philadelphia.  Eleanor lives at home with her mother and her brother, Elijah, is supposed to be arriving home after a 3 year educational tour of Europe.  But he doesn’t show up at the train station and a zombie gives Eleanor a note from him.  That is the premise where the novel begins.  I won’t give away any more plot points, because I really think you need to live this novel.

The characters were vibrant and oh, so interesting!  I never knew who I loved or hated, who I trusted or was wary of.  It kept changing all the time and though I suspected at a certain point that certain people were a certain way, it was still fun to keep reading and see just how the author was going to work out all the details.  Eleanor is a great heroine.  She’s rather feisty, but still caught up in her roles as a post Civil War young lady.

Another enjoyable aspect is that this novel wrapped up rather nicely at the end.  Now, there is a second novel, but it’s not entirely connected to this one.  It’s more like the Percy Jackson series, where it’s just another adventure with the same characters.  In other words, I wasn’t left hanging at the end with some horrible cliffhanger and thinking that I would die since I have to wait another year for the next book.  Nice, right?  But I definitely want to read the next book because I couldn’t put this one down.


This was hard because of the historical setting of the book.  But here are a few:

Secret Smile by Semisonic

Goodbye by Plankeye

Goodbye to You by Michelle Branch

Yes, there are 2 goodbye songs because there seem to be a lot of goodbyes in this book.  Even though it’s not necessarily a very sad book.

The Final Grade
This book was great!  It was imaginative, intriguing, at times sad and at other times exhilarating!  It has everything I look for in a good book.  I read it in one sitting because I couldn’t bear to put it down.  Go grab this book for the Dead beat you to it!

Thank you to Harper Collins and Edelweiss for allowing me to read and review this book.  I received no compensation in exchange for my honest review, not even my own corset.


  1. I can't wait to read this book! I would love to see how it will go for Eleanor and Daniel plus how the story will be going. :) I won a copy of it and I can't wait to get my hands on it. :)
    -Riz Bulatao

  2. I've heard mixed things about this one but after loving Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel, (another steampunk book with zombies) I'm prepared to give this one a go. :)