Something Strange and Deadly: Susan Dennard

Let’s be honest here…you’re probably groaning by the cover alone.  The book looks like it’s going to be your stereotypical paranormal.  The main character is wearing a fancy dress, there is a dark depressing feeling that the art department is trying to get the reader to feel.  But does it ring historical?

Not really.  The dress isn’t what a nineteenth century Miss would wear but that doesn’t matter since I’m not analyzing this books cover (yet). So, let’s review the book.

General Summary: Eleanor receives a disturbing letter from her brother.  Its contents are disturbing enough, but what makes matters worse was that it was delivered by a zombie and now Eleanor finds herself having to team up with the spirit hunters.

Review:  I love this book and then again I don’t.  For the first two thirds of this book I had thought I met my soulmate.  It had taken something I absolutely despised and hated (zombies) and made it great.  I love Eleanor she’s kick ass.  And that’s something about this book I loved till the end.  She could handle whatever was thrown at her and she wasn’t Mary Sue perfect.  I also liked her interactions with her suitors and for that matter than her love life is not the main focus of the book.  Rather, it’s the attack on Philadelphia and Eleanor’s quest to find her missing brother. That was another strength of the book (well, through most of the book) was it’s plot.  Dennard had a clear story in mind when it came to this book and I enjoyed that until….well, I got to the climax.
 To be honest, I wasn’t impressed with the climax at all.  It wasn’t poorly written.  It was very exciting and all, but I felt like I had read it before in oh…..Clockwork Angel. While it was true that the stories are different, a plot twist that was used in Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices series was used here and it just sort of rubbed me the wrong way. I was like really Dennard you’re better than this. And even if I didn’t read Clockwork Angel  it still would’ve been predictable and sort of groan inducing twist.
While I like the Infernal Devices series a lot better than the Moral Instruments the book is still a bit of a cliche.  Not that cliche can’t be good but that doesn’t matter.

That being said, I really did enjoy the book.  Besides the main characters and  I thought that Dennard excelled when it came to the use of details in the this story.  Everything seemed so put together for the most part and with reason.  Which is sort of hard to do.  That being said, it wasn’t perfect I think as the book progressed and I got a better look at what the story was about I was able to spot a plot hole or two. And yeah, one of these plot holes was quite glaring but overall it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the book (much).

 Best Feature: History.  I really love history.  And I have to be honest, when you combine the paranormal with historical fiction it’s pretty kick ass.  I even like that stupid Titanic book with the werewolves, mainly because it incorporated history.  Not very well, might I add.  But still it incorporated history.  This book, was much more of a success (in my opinion at least) than that Titanic book and I think it’s because Dennard didn’t try to recreate an alternative version of a big historical event.  Okay, so history was altered-big time-with zombies walking around everywhere in the nineteenth century.  But there were still core things about the period that existed if you knew your history.  And this made me smile.
Eleanor’s Philadelphia

Worst Feature: This seems familiar….: While there was a lot of originality to this book there were also a lot of similarities to Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices series.  Which is okay, but it makes part of the book sort of predictable and a let down.  When I started reading this book, I was so excited.  For the first one hundred and fifty pages or so, I thought I finally had another book I’d give a full blown ten to (which doesn’t happen a lot).  However, then things got a little cliched.  And I have to say this…what is the deal with all these period pieces and gears.  Yes, I get that gears were used in a lot of old machinery but can’t you be I don’t know a little more creative.

Appropriateness:  There are some pretty vivid descriptions of the zombies that are a bit gruesome, but other than that it’s pretty proper.  It has to be right?  It’s YA and it’s historical and historical MC’s are always prim and proper.

Blockbuster Worthy: Sure, why not.  I’m always for a good period piece with zombies.  Even if they royally screw up on the script and everything else you have the costumes to look forward to.  Here’s who For  Eleanor, Kaitlyn Jenkins.…maybe?  I like her in Bunheads and I do think she might be able to pull off Eleanor in some ways but I’m not sure if she’s bad ass enough.


Daniel: Chad Duell.  I think he has the right look though he’s a ginger instead of blonde.


Overall Rating: Eight out of ten gears.  This book was looking perfect till the last third of the book and then I fell a bit out of love with it.  I still recommend it though.  It’s one of the better YA paranormals I’ve read in quite awhile.


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