Oh! Hello there! Long time no see! I’m really happy to be blogging again and I’m sipping some green tea and smiling because I just really forgot how much I enjoy blogging! So any-hoo, tonight I’m going to review a book that I read last year and just recently finished re-reading. Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard was SUCH a good read that I just couldn’t resist writing a review about it.
Now I hope by now everyone knows that I am throughly obsessed with zombie stories, and by obsessed I mean if it has any sort of walking dead I’ll give it a try. I will read any zombie story ranging from gross to extremely disgusting. Luckily for the readers with delicate sensibilities, this book didn’t have anything TOO gory! The book is set in Victorian Philadelphia which was another thing that I really enjoyed about the story. Dennard’s combination of these two elements ultimately made this book irresistible to me, and I had to pick it up.
The protagonist of Something Strange and Deadly was Eleanor Fitt, who definitely didn’t fit the typical mold of a “proper” lady. Eleanor’s father dies after his business fails and the Fitt family finds themselves with a bit of a money issue. Eleanor’s brother Eli, leaves to travel the world, and the book begins with Eleanor anxiously waiting his arrival back in Philadelphia. Unfortunately for her, fate has other plans as she is mysteriously handed a telegraph from her brother by a zombie…yup a real grotesque creature in its own right. Soon after Eleanor enlists the help of the Spirit Hunters, a trio that was called to town as soon as the dead began walking. With the help of these three, Eleanor quickly begins to find out exactly who she is and what she wants.
I think that Eleanor is easily one of the best protagonists I’ve read in young adult fiction today. She was smart, fiercely independent, and just plain fabulous. I liked Eleanor because she wasn’t what someone during that time would consider perfect or extraordinarily beautiful, which made her more relatable. Although many women at that time were expected to be complacent and lady-like, Eleanor really began to speak her mind as the book went on and I really liked that as readers we were able to see her growth. By the end of the book I was completely girl-crushing on Eleanor because of the strength and poise she exhibited throughout her trials.
I absolutely adored Daniel as a love interest, mostly because he wasn’t misogynistic or overbearing. He didn’t treat Eleanor like a porcelain doll except for when he was worried about her safety (and this was more because Eleanor was not used to fighting or being in dangerous situations, not necessarily because she was a female). He eventually gave up trying to protect her and let her do what she wanted/needed to do, which was a nice departure from the usual trope of love interests.The other Spirit Hunters were equally as kick-butt and overall Dennard did a great job with character development. Joseph and Ji (the other two spirit hunters) were great supporting characters that really fostered Eleanor’s growth.
The plot of the book was so mouth watering to me – I just absolutely loved it! I thought that Dennard did a really good job creating a mysterious, romantic, action-y novel without making either of those elements over the top. As the book went on I found myself really wondering exactly what was happening and who was behind everything because the mystery was so complex and well written. I liked that the book had some mystical elements that didn’t feel over the top and crazy. I liked that the zombies weren’t your typical run-of-the-mill zombies that are all too common today. The pacing of the novel really worked for me as well, as Dennard brings us right into the action and doesn’t let us up for air until the end. There were no superfluous parts and the writing was tight. On the plot level, I definitely think that this book was extremely strong.
If you like a strong female protagonist, a mouth-watering love interest, and some zombie action I would DEFINITELY recommend this book. Even if zombies aren’t typically your cup of tea, this book had a lot of other very interesting elements and a strong plot, so don’t be intimidated by the subject matter too much. Until next time, lovely readers!