Sam's Reviews > Something Strange and Deadly

Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard
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3.5 stars

The Dead alarm rings out across 1876 Philadelphia as animated corpses walk out of Laurel Hill Cemetery. Eleanor Fitt of the Philadelphia Fitts, or just Eleanor to you and me, is caught in the middle of a Dead attack when one of the decaying bodies delivers her a letter – a letter from her missing brother, Elijah. In her determination to locate Elijah, Eleanor ventures into the labs of the so-called Spirit Hunters, a small force designated to the role of protecting the city from the Dead, only to find nothing more than an infuriating inventor, a girl who pretends to be a boy, and an old man named Joseph. With no other hope, Eleanor is forced to risk facing her mother’s wrath and the frowns of the gossip-mongers as she decides to ask the Spirit Hunters for help…

The setting was perfect for me. A historical backdrop is hardly my favourite kind, but Susan Dennard makes her world simple and accessible without feeling too lacking or underdeveloped. With a light Victorian dusting and crafted with parasols, carriages and proper etiquette, Philadelphia in 1876 was far more appealing to me than it made sense for it to be. It’s not all skirts and petticoats though; there is a strong paranormal aroma in the air as Dennard’s zombie-like creatures turn this story into one full of excitement and action. It’s a fast-paced ride but never an overwhelming one.

The story, however, is not my favourite part of this book; it is the characters. Eleanor is so incredibly likeable. While not the most intelligent or durable of female main characters, she is never exasperatingly dim or particularly unrealistic. I loved her stubbornness, her natural curiosity and her willingness to transgress expectations in order to find her brother. She was a refreshingly sweet character who did not lack fire. And not only Eleanor – I also adored the love interest, Daniel the inventor. He was a little typical at times, but never boring. I loved the tension and chemistry between him and Eleanor. Not a smidgeon of insta-love in sight.

My only major criticism for this book is its high levels of predictability. The mystery behind who the necromancer was turned out to be incredibly easy to piece together, even for me. Although it didn’t fully take away from my overall enjoyment of the book, it did dampen my enthusiasm occasionally. For maximum suspense, I wish certain twists had been a little less expected or the plot a touch more intricate.

Regardless, Something Strange and Deadly proved to be a surprisingly good read, more so than I thought it would be. The light steampunk elements, wonderful set of characters, and pleasant writing made this story one that I fully enjoyed, even if it wasn’t quite perfect. I will definitely be reading the sequel and finding out what is in store for Eleanor Fitt next. I just hope Susan Dennard ensures book two is just as entertaining, if not more so.

(This review also appears on my blog)
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Comments (showing 1-21 of 21) (21 new)

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message 1: by Aa'Ishah (new) - added it

Aa'Ishah I was never really sure about this. For some reason I just get the impression that I've read better. I look forward to hearing your thoughts. :)


message 2: by Sam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sam I feel the same way too actually, but I'm hoping I'm proven wrong. ;)


message 3: by Aa'Ishah (new) - added it

Aa'Ishah Hehe, I guess that book has that kind of vibe. Maybe we're so practised in reading and looking at books that we can tell. Goes back to what we were saying the other day. ;) I hope so too. :)


Wee Shubba (Totally Bookalicious) Hope you enjoy. I adored this book. :) 5/5 from me.


message 5: by Sam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sam Thanks. I'm glad to hear you liked it! :)


message 6: by Hilda (new)

Hilda Ooh, can't wait to read your review, Sam! x) How is it so far? :)


message 7: by Sam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sam I really liked it, Hilda. I should hopefully have my review up soon! :)


message 8: by Aa'Ishah (new) - added it

Aa'Ishah I'm so glad to see you found this better than expectations! I can't wait to read your review. :)


message 9: by Sam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sam Me too! Maybe because I went in with low expectations? ;) I'm glad it was good though.


message 10: by Eunice (new) - added it

Eunice Sometimes even though the plot wasn't very brilliant as long as the characters were really good the overall story works for me. So glad you enjoyed this despite the predictability and that the characters were really likable. Great review, Sam. :)


message 11: by Sam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sam Eunice wrote: "Sometimes even though the plot wasn't very brilliant as long as the characters were really good the overall story works for me. So glad you enjoyed this despite the predictability and that the char..."

Yep, I'm certain I wouldn't have enjoyed this as much had I not liked the characters as greatly as I did. Thanks Eunice! :)


message 12: by Weasley (new) - added it

Weasley Great review, Sam. I'm looking forward to reading this. :)


message 13: by Sam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sam Thanks! I hope you'll enjoy it too. :)


message 14: by Jasprit (new)

Jasprit I find myself drifting towards the fantasy/paranormal books more now after some of your reviews, this one has certainly grabbed my attention! And just look at the cover it's to die for! Despite the predictability I'm glad it hasn't put you off from picking up the next one in the series! Lovely review Sam! :)


message 15: by Sam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sam Thanks Jasprit! Any problems I had weren't particularly large and didn't prevent me from enjoying the book overall. I hope you will like this too! :)


♥Rachel♥ Good to see you liked this Sam. The romance is always important to me so knowing that you liked this one with Daniel and Eleanor makes me excited! The fact that you really liked the MCs is a high recommend to me in spite of the predictability of the story. I can live with predictable. I can't live with no connection to the characters. Excellent review as usual! :)


message 17: by Sam (last edited Jun 23, 2012 09:23AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sam I end up taking characters over plot anyway, so it was nice that I adored both Daniel and Eleanor. It would have been perfect if the plot was slightly better, but it didn't prevent me from enjoying the book. I hope you enjoy this one, Rachel! :)


message 18: by Laura (last edited Jun 23, 2012 06:26PM) (new) - added it

Laura OH! I like the sound of this one! I’m in! Wonderful review, Sam!
Btw…I have always loved the phrase or title—“gossip-mongers”. Haha…It always sounded like the name of a monster to me! :)


message 19: by Sam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sam Gossip-mongers... monsters... same thing, right? ;)

Hehe I hope you like this one, Laura! It's a fun read and much better than I thought it would be. :)


message 20: by Sonia (new)

Sonia With the combination of historical backdrop, great characters and steampunk elements, it sounds like a book I'd like. What a pity that it's too preditable.:-( Great review as always. :-)


message 21: by Sam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sam Thanks Sonia! Despite the predictability, it was still enjoyable. :)


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