Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard
Published: 7-24-2012 by HarperTeen
Get the book: Amazon
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.
Design – Cara E. Petrus Photo of girl – Monica Stevenson Photo of tree + texture – Getty Images Rating – 4/5
This cover is moody and fitting for the book. Yes, it is a YA cover with a girl in a big, poofy, pretty dress – but the dress is historically accurate for the time period of the book so I think it’s fine. The dark dress contrasts with the lighter sky and the skirt’s shape divides the cover nicely. The tree limbs add just the right amount of eerie background. I like the small, subtle touches on the title font, but I’m not sure about the gears in the background.
This is my kind of zombie book! I tore through this book – it was absolutely enthralling. The action and pacing was perfect and now I’m just wondering why this book isn’t more popular.
- zombie action! – YA zombie books have not impressed me, although I’m only basing that opinion on The Forest of Hands and Teeth series, which I thought was dull. But this book has no shortage of undead action, plus a heroine who’s not afraid to get her hands (and dresses) dirty. The balance of zombie fighting and non-zombie fighting was perfect. The details were gory, but not all-out gruesome. And, because we’re dealing with a necromancer and not just a parade of mindless corpses, things are deliciously sinister.
- Eleanor – I love a heroine who doesn’t faint or run away at the first sign of peril. From the start Eleanor did what she knew was necessary to stay alive and find her brother. She did everything in her power to help the Spirit-Hunters, and then some. Eleanor does what she has to in order to walk the line society demands she walk – but only the bare minimum to please her mother – so that she can take care of more important things, like the walking dead. She’s stubborn and she doesn’t let anyone walk all over her, despite what life expects of women of her class and age. She fights back, and she won’t stop until she’s done all she can to take down the necromancer.
- Daniel – I’m a sucker for a lovable, yet mysterious guy. Daniel is wild, smart, and slightly dangerous. I really wasn’t expecting him to have a dramatic backstory, but I loved it. It was so cute how he called Eleanor “Empress,” even thought he meant it was an insult at first. I just absolutely adored all of Daniel’s interactions with Eleanor and really looked forward to scenes Daniel was in.
- science – The steampunky science of the Spirit-Hunters, the zombies, and the necromancer made sense and really enhanced the Centennial Exhibition setting. Daniel’s inventions worked well, and they were explained simply. The explanation behind why Joseph’s powers and the machine Daniel built hurt the zombies sounded plausible. My favorite invention was the goggles Daniel made to detect spirit energy. The struggles of the necromancer to control the corpses, and the methods he/she employed to keep that control were a nice touch.
- setting – The setting of this book, Victorian era Philadelphia, makes things seem even spookier to me. The Centennial Exhibition is filled with strange and exciting machinery and inventions, while people get around in carriage and women wear corsets and gigantic gowns that restrict any useful movement. There’s no technology to rely on – no highly secure places to stand ground against the rising dead – everyone either ignores the fact that it’s happening or figures it will end on its own.
- Eleanor’s mother – Eleanor’s mother put a ridiculous amount of pressure on her daughter. She pinned all of her hopes for the future on Eleanor getting married to a rich, high-class man as soon as possible. She only showed affection toward Eleanor after Clarence started taking her on outings. She’s exceedingly rude to Daniel because he is a Spirit-Hunter, yet she’s the one who throws seances for entertainment – and she does everything she can to stay in the social circle of snobby women who think throwing seances is fun and exciting.
- Clarence – I was mostly ambivalent about Clarence, until his backstory was revealed. Once more was revealed about him and his motivations in life, I thought Clarence was despicable. While I did enjoy the gradual way Eleanor discovered more about Clarence and his life – and the way all that tied into the plot – I just found myself disliking him more.
- Daniel darted forward and snatched at my parasol. Before I could suck in air for a panicked shriek, he slung me around and clamped a firm hand over my mouth. “Not a word,” he breathed in my ear. “If any of the Hungry are in there, they’ll come in seconds and you’ll get to see what this sickle is really for.” – Daniel + Eleanor pg. 118
- “I told you to leave,” he snarled. With his face only inches from mine and glowing white in the darkness, I could make out lines of fury scored into his face. His swollen left eye and bleeding lip only made him look more anguished. – Daniel + Eleanor pg. 276
Acquired: bought (ebook)