There is definitely something both strange and deadly going on in Philly. Dead bodies are rising from their graves and eating anybody that gets in their way. But who is causing them to rise, and why? Why is the necromancer holding her brother captive?
Eleanor lives with her mother and servants in an aging mansion. They are trying hard to hold onto their status as rich ladies, though everyone knows they’ve been struggling ever since the death of Eleanor’s father years ago. Her mom is desperate to marry her off to a rich man, which will cement their standing in Philadelphia’s social circles again. But Eleanor doesn’t want to marry someone just because he’s rich. She just wants her brother to come home. But when a corpse brings her a note from her brother, she becomes convinced the same necromancer that has reanimated the dead bodies is holding her brother captive for the top-secret research he was working on. Her mother is more interested in helping her marry, so Eleanor turns to the Spirit-Hunters, who have recently come to town to help stop the rising dead.
I liked Eleanor’s spunkiness and her ability to go out and get things done. She bucked some social expectations and did what she felt was necessary at the time, especially when it came to her brother Elijah. He was a hard character to like because we never got to know him before he disappeared. We were just told that Eleanor loved him and wanted to save him. I didn’t understand Daniel as a love interest; he was so caught up in his job and working for Joseph that I didn’t think Eleanor really had a chance to get to know him and develop feelings for him. I did like Joseph, though. He was completely focused on his work and trying to save innocent people from being killed by the dead, but he always had time for a kind word to Eleanor, or to comfort her when she was scared. Her mother just pissed me off, with her all-consuming obsession with marrying Eleanor off to the first rich man who walked by.
The plot was interesting overall, though the novel suffered from a lack of action. “The dead” scenes were exciting, but there weren’t as many of them as I would have liked. In between, there was a lot of bustle holding and carriage sitting. I quickly tired of the historical references (corsets, walking gowns, chaperones, parasols, etc.) and Eleanor’s constant mention of her lack of money. Even with all my personal dislikes, it’s easy to recognize that the world-building is impressive, especially for a début author.
The cover is very pretty and the dress theme is certainly on trend, but the bare shoulders don’t seem to fit in with the time period and the trends described inside the novel. I really like the creepy background and spindly tree.
This is truly one of those cases where I believe there is nothing wrong with the book, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea. Fans of steampunk or historical novels, especially those with zombies, will definitely like Something Strange and Deadly.