A Darkness Strange and Lovely: Susan Dennard

I have a love hate relationship with this dress.  It is striking, I’ll give it that, but I don’t think a 19th century Miss would wear it.

Imagine your ideal date.  Rom Coms are good at showing what this ideal is.  Especially Lifetime movies.  I’ll just give you one that’s a combination of various movies: You’re feeling funky in your sweatpants and Mickey Mouse t-shirt  and your friend texts you and tells you she’s set you up with this guy.  You don’t do blind dates, but there’s nothing in the fridge except for a half eaten can of Nutella.  And as much as you like the spread, it’s not exactly dinner.  So you decided to take a shower, put on some Spanxs and your LBD and just go on the date for the free food.  Imagine to your surprise when you open the door and John Stamos appears eating Greek yogurt and says you look great while handing you diamonds and chocolate.  He then proceeds to take you on his private jet to the Mediterranean coast and you make sweet love to a montage of the latest sappy dappy love song.

Perfect date in the movie world, right?

Well, on the second date you find out your date wasn’t actually John Stamos it was Uncle Jesse and if you’re going to be around this guy you’re going to have to be around his crazy family, an annoying slightly seedy looking dude named Joey, and that he’s already married to this lady who lives in the attic and is crazy because…oh, wait different story (sort of).  Although, I truly believe Aunt Becky would’ve gone crazy if she had to raise the twins in that attic apartment for too much longer.

Okay, you might wonder what has caused me to write a bizarre version of Lifetime movie/Full House fan fic.  Well, I’ve been indulging in one too many Nick at Nite reruns of the 80’s sitcom and Lifetime movies and well…it’s the perfect analogy to the book I’m about to review.

A Darkness Strange and Lovely the sequel to Something Strange and Deadly to say the least it was disappointing.  Not that it was a bad book.  But considering that its predecessor was one of my favorite books of 2012.  Well this sequel just plain sucked.

If you haven’t figured it out already I’ve deviated from regular format again and I think it’s something that will be happening more and more because I’m sort of getting tired of being formulaic though I will try to touch upon all the various points I do in the formula.

The book takes place I think a few months after the first.  Eleanor is basically living a life of 19th century poverty which consists of having one dress, no furniture, and carrying everything around in a carpetbag-yes, I know tragic.  After getting scared half to death she’s off to Paris to find the Spirit-Hunters (and yeah, se only needed an excuse to leave town).  Of course things are complicated when she meets her brother’s demon and acts like an idiot for the rest of the novel.

Yep, that summary right there describes the gist of this book.  I’ll be the first to say it’s not a bad book, just like I don’t think Uncle Jesse by himself is a bad catch.  But compared to the alternative…the first book, it’s just a disappointment.

The biggest issue I had with this one is Eleanor.  Its not that she reverts into some horrible Bella Swan type of character, though she did have some Bella moments.  It’s just that…that in the first one she was so kick ass without being unrealistic and in this one she is just annoying.  She makes horrible decisions, she’s selfish, all she cares about is her love life…oh wait, that is Bella Swan.  And you know like Bella when she fucks up, its only a little fuck up she’s shortly forgiven.

Yeah, I’m crying because I really did like Eleanor in the first one.  And I think the change in her character affected her relationship with Daniel.  In the first book I felt chemistry, while there still was chemistry here it felt awkward and forced at times.  I honestly liked her with Ollie better in a weird way even though he reminded me of that ass, Reth, in Kiersten White’s Paranormalcy.  And I never found Reth hot.

Really, was Ollie necessary?  At least he’s not terribly annoying when he and Eleanor aren’t interacting.  But still…God, I hate characters that are invented solely to cause a rift in the relationship between the protagonist and her man-cessory.

Sigh…..

The plot was still decent, I guess.  Probably the best thing about this one.   Though it was obvious who the villain was in this installment if you weren’t TSTL (Eleanor I’m looking at you).  I just didn’t feel the same zeal as I did with the first one.  Despite the fact that this novel took place in France in the late 1800’s.

I’ll be honest with you, one of the books that I was forced to read in college made me love 19th century France.  That book is The American by Henry James.  I really felt old world Europe when I read that book.  Here…not so much.  And yeah, I know comparing this book to The American is like comparing fine wine to beer….but…this book tries to well…tries to hard.

It really freaking does.  I felt like Dennard wanted to have the same feel that the James novel gives you.  Except no. It just doesn’t work.  I didn’t feel like I was in France when I read this book.  Sure a few French phrases were dropped here and there, people ate baguettes, and ostentatious lifestyles were lived…but I still didn’t buy it.  Like I bought 19th century Philadelphia.

To be honest, the book just felt like a pale copy of its predecessor and while its expected that sophomore books aren’t going to be as good as the original I had great hopes for this one.

There wasn’t particularly anything inappropriate about this one.  Some violence (obviously) since it is a zombie hunting book.  But no sexy good times or f-bombing.  Which is sort of a shame because I think this book needed something like that.

Overall, this installment isn’t horrible but it really sort of failed.  Had this been another YA series I might’ve enjoyed it more.  But not here.  Overall, I’m giving it a six out of ten zombies.  I’ll probably read the next one, but its definitely on probation.  Just how my relationship with Jesse would be if my proposed movie, Full House From Hell,  ever got made by Lifetime.

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