The Compulsive Reader: Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

When Eleanor Fitt's brother goes missing, she suspects the worst. The dead have been rising in Philadelphia and a necromancer is on the loose. Eleanor is certain that her brother is danger, so she approaches the Spirit Hunters, hoping to enlist their help in finding her brother. Unfortunately, they've got their hands full in attempting to keep the dead from attacking the city, and their help isn't entirely welcome by the city. But Eleanor isn't giving up easily, and soon she finds herself going against her society mother to help her new friends keep the evil at bay and uncover a plot that might have killed her father.

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.


The Insouciant Sophisticate said...

I thought it was a tree on the cover?

I ended up liking this book a lot despite its predictability-I think it was because fo the strength of the characters as well as my weakness for book boys like Daniel :)

Anonymous said...

There is a tree, but if you look closely, there are gears as well.

Jess (The Cozy Reader) said...

Hmm, this sounds a bit like Gena Showalter's Alice in Zombieland but in a historical setting. I'm a big fan of historicals and I do have a review copy of this so I'll have to bump this one up!

I'm disappointed to hear about the cover! I thought this one was great since the first time I saw it. It upsets me when they put a model on the front that can't possibly represent the main character. No matter how pretty the dress or the girl, if it doesn't match what's inside it's disappointing.

I know publishers want the sell factor but I honestly believe they owe it to us to represent the book as truthfully as possible.