Something Strange and Deadly is a great start to an inventive, compelling, and dark trilogy. Susan Dennard makes historic Philadelphia tangible and real, even with her imagined zombies invading; everything from the physical settings, mannerisms, and dress is so vivid. Eleanor is not exceptionally beautiful, nor the most slender nor richest girl in Philadelphia, but she has a lot of courage and love for her brother and that makes her quite likable. While she may believe that she is trapped by conventions and her mother's expectations at first, in working with the Spirit Hunters she realistically learns to face her fears and embrace her own strength and individuality. The supporting characters of the Spirit Hunters Joseph, Daniel, and Jie are also very engaging and the chemistry between them and Eleanor is excellent. Dennard writes action scenes with a lot of verve and suspense, and the consequences of the conflict between the Spirit Hunters and the mysterious necromancer match the intensity of the entire novel. Dennard's excellent debut concludes with a satisfying mixture of hope and regret, but you won't want to wait too long to read the sequel, A Darkness Strange and Lovely.
Cover Comments: I think this is a beautiful cover, but I don't like it for this book. The gears in the dark background are neat, and I think that this model's dress is lovely and dark, but the girl on the cover is NOT Eleanor, and her dress seems to be far too revealing for the time period. I do, however, like the font the title is in a lot. So, lovely cover, but not for this book. Oh well.
Review copy purchased.