Sunday, October 28, 2012

Book review: "Something Strange and Deadly" by Susan Dennard

Something Strange and Deadly review
Author: Susan Dennard
4 out of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Urban Fantasy (Zombies/Necromancers); Steampunk
Reading Level: YA (13+ per publisher)
Recommended for: Fans of YA urban fantasy, esp. featuring zombies
Book Available: Currently available in Hardcover and Kindle; Paperback available 6/25/2013

Disclosure: I received a free paperback ARC galley from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis: 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.

My Thoughts: I’ve seen this book described as steampunk, but as far as I can tell the only thing remotely steampunk about it is that it is set in the Victorian era – it was my understanding that steampunk usually involves elaborate machine and airships and things like that which are powered by steam. Sure, Daniel has inventions, and he and Joseph are doing the funky, paranormal stuff, but there isn’t much focus on it.

The zombies in this book reminded me of the zombies in the earlier Anita Blake books by Laurell K. Hamilton – as long as they were under the control of a necromancer, they were fairly “safe”, but as soon as they got loose they were extremely dangerous.

One thing I don’t usually comment on is the cover, but in this case, I felt the cover deserved some attention. First of all, this is supposed to be set during the Victorian era – no self-respecting woman would be that undressed, even in the privacy of her own room. She certainly would not be wearing that sort of makeup – if she were made up at all, it would be to whiten her face and rouge her lips and cheeks, not a modern-looking eyeshadow application. This cover does not at all fit in with the story; it instead fits the standard “YA girl in a dress” thing that’s become such an annoyance among people who like their covers to reflect what’s actually inside the book at least somewhat accurately.

I liked Jie a lot, and Daniel grew on me. Joseph remained a bit of an enigma. I didn’t much care for Eleanor at first, but she grew on me after awhile. If you’d asked me about the half-way point, I probably would have predicted a three-star review for this book, but the ending left me with a smile. I liked it. I really ended up liking it. Fans of steampunk will probably join me in their disappointment over the lack of airships and much in the way of mechanisms, and fans of the traditional YA triangle won’t find one here, but I think general fans of urban fantasy and traditional zombie fare will probably enjoy it.


  1. I just started reading this book. I still have not meet Jie. Thanks for the review.


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