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Something Strange and Deadly #1

Something Strange and Deadly

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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.

248 pages, ebook

First published July 24, 2012

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About the author

Susan Dennard

20 books8,649 followers
Susan Dennard has come a long way from small-town Georgia. With a masters degree in marine biology, she got to travel the world—six out of seven continents, to be exact (she’ll get to Asia one of these days!)—before she settled down as a full-time novelist and writing instructor.

She is the author of the New York Times bestselling Witchlands series as well as the Something Strange & Deadly series. When not writing, she can be found slaying darkspawn on her Xbox or earning bruises at the dojo.

You can learn more about Susan on her website, blog, newsletter, Twitter, or Pinterest.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,730 reviews
February 5, 2014
She rubbed the bald half of her head. “In China we say, ‘The girl with the full hair is not as free as the girl with the bare head.’"

“It means that as long as I still shave my hair, I’m free. See, in China, girls keep their heads bald like the boys, yeah? Then when we’re the age to become a woman, we bind our feet and grow out our hair.

If I had to choose one word to describe this book, it would be unconvincing. If you want terrifying zombie action, turn away now, the zombies in this book are not dangerous, they are corpses, but they're of the "first episode of Walking Dead" sort of boring, which is to say they're rotting, they're shambling, they smell REALLY, REALLY bad, but they're completely unterrifying in every way. I feel like I could walk around with a sharp stick and kill a bunch myself because they were so unconvincing as objects of abject terror.

This book is strange, but it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. The world building is weird and incomplete. This book thinks itself a "steampunk" novel. It's not. The setting and the characters's behaviors are inconsistent. The characters themselves are two-dimensional. Flat. It was a wholly implausible book, and I'm not talking about the fact that the dead are rising in 1876 Philadelphia.

The Setting: Yawn.

1. Zombies? Oh, posh! We must attend the opera!: This book is about Eleanor Fitts (Miss Fitt, misfit...ha...ha...yeah, we fucking get it, Eleanor), a 16-year old girl living in 1876 Philadelphia, where the dead have begun rising from their grave. Her beloved older brother, Elijah, is missing.

The setting in this book is not steampunk so much as "Huh?" Yeah, sure, the zombies are rising, but it was entirely unclear whether they had, in fact, existed in the past or not, or if this is an entirely new phenomenon.

The fact that there are zombies rising up from their graves and terrorizing the whole of Philadelphia was made completely underwhelming. There was no danger in it. The zombies are called "walking dead," like the ones in the show of the same name, but with so little urgency and panic that they became completely redundant and dull. It's of the "Oh, pish, posh! Zombies again?! How completely inconvenient because they're going to ruin our tea party!" sort of catastrophe, which is to say, none at all.
I shrank back, fighting the urge to run past her through the open door. “Th-the walking corpses,” I stammered. “The ones people have been talking about. One came to the train depot, so everyone was evacuated.”
“And what of our party tonight?” Mama insisted. “What am I to do?”
“We could cancel,” I said hopefully.
She snorted. “Of course we cannot cancel. The walking Dead must have addled your brain, Eleanor. This is our first party in years.
Oh, yes, such danger. Such excitement. The dead are rising. The dead are going to eat us alive. Yippee. Oh, save us, our Lord in Heaven.

I am utterly terrified.


2. Steampunk? More like pure bunk: It is 1876 Philadelphia. That's all. There is no technology beyond that of the times. There is no elements of steampunk. There is no machinery. There is no advanced mechanical inventions. it is 1876 Philadelphia, no more, no less. The book itself presents no sense of time; I did not feel like I was immersed in the past at all. This has very much to do with the fact that the main character was so inconsistent.

3. Abracadabra!: The magic in this book is more showing, than telling. If you are going to incorporate magic into a book, I expect an explanation of how it works, I don't want vague-as-fuck phrases like "spiritual energy" thrown around without much of an explanation. There are souls, there are electric energy associated with souls. Like what? It was very inadequately explained, and I was unsatisfied with the explanation.

4. Where's Your Motherfucking Chaperone?!: Eleanor is 16. She is an upper-middle-class young woman. Her reputation is on the line. She needs to make a good marriage. SO WHY THE FUCK IS SHE WANDERING AROUND DOING WHATEVER THE FUCK SHE WANTS?! Eleanor has a mother. Her mother only has Eleanor. Why is she not keeping a closer eye on her?! She sneaks off from a tea party to look for guys. Eleanor sneaks out of the opera house (leaving her date) wearing a motherfucking BALL gown to go investigate the undead!!!
I raced through the now-empty main hall. My footsteps echoed off the marble tiles. The porters at the front doors exchanged shocked glances. I could imagine the sight I must have presented—a flushed ball of purple silk and rustling skirts. No matter. I whisked past them and flew out into the Philadelphia night.
Eleanor, the Inconsistent: Eleanor is an well-born young woman. She doesn't act like it. Eleanor behaves as if she has a stick firmly wegded up her ass in one moment, and acts like a modern woman in the next.

1. I Must Politely Tell You That I Need To Use the Toilet: *sigh* Bodily functions were simply not mentioned in the 19th century. Eleanor is gently raised. She should know that, and yet she feels the need to KEEP TELLING MEN THAT SHE NEEDS TO USE THE TOILET. (called the "necessary")
“I... I need to use the necessary. Perhaps I can meet you in the Hydraulic Annex?”
Clarence’s lips quirked up slightly. “Yes, all right. Use the water closet and then meet me in the annex.”
Aaaand yet again, to someone she hardly knows.
“I must go to the necessary,” I murmured to Clarence, but he didn’t budge.
I turned to the squat Pinkerton. “I must go to the necessary.”
2. How Dare You Speak To Me Without a Very Proper Introduction: Eleanor's manners are all over the fucking place. In one moment, she's sneaking off to meet men. In a very private place. Actually, she does that repeatedly throughout the book. In another moment, she is shocked, SHOCKED, that he dares violate etiquette by SHAKING HER HAND! Oh, my pearls!
A gentleman simply was not supposed to shake the hand of an unmarried woman without a proper, third-party introduction. I was so used to chaperoned meetings that I had acted on foolish reflex.
2. I Am A Lady, You Motherfucker: For a well-born lady, she sure curses a lot, and she's pretty free with her insults. She'll "be damned," this, he's a "bastard." Eleanor's speech may be archaic to fit the time, but she is completely inconsistent otherwise.

3. Purring Is For Kittens:
I took a weary breath, lifted my hands, and purred, “I’m truly sorry, sir.”
He wrinkled his nose. “Why are you talking like that?”
“Like what?”
“Like you’re a kitten.
What the fuck?! Since when did "purring" mean an actual purring sound when it comes to human voices? It is a figure of speech, for fuck's sakes. Yeah, I know I'm nitpicky. It's stupid little details like this that ruin a book for me.

4. Was I Supposed To Save My Brother? Oh, right. My Beloved Brother: Way to go completely fucking off track. Way to lose sight of your actual mission. Eleanor has an actual mission: She's supposed to try to find and save her best friend, her beloved older brother. Only she completely forgets about him.
I had wasted time worrying over Daniel and Clarence, playing on the croquet course, and arguing with Mama. I had neglected what was most important: Elijah.

5. Who Cares About Money, Anyway: Eleanor is selfish. She hates her mother---who is an overbbearing Mrs. Darcy sort, but who is well-intentioned.

Eleanor and her mother is about to lose their home. They are out of money. Her mother needs Eleanor to be a success so that they can keep a roof over their heads.

Eleanor doesn't seem to think that this is important at all. She thinks her mother is an idiot, she is exasperated at her practicality.
Mama ignored me. “Your father did enough damage to our family’s standing, Eleanor, when he tried to save his company. Your brother only worsened it when he ran off. Without a good reputation, you will not make a suitable match. We will be on the streets soon!”
I opened my eyes and watched her. What an empty shell of a woman she was.
The Romance: A love triangle and a romance that distracts Eleanor more than it should.
What was it about mouths that made them so fascinating? I had read of kisses (Shakespeare was fond of them in his plays), but I’d never seen one. And I’d certainly never experienced one. Did people merely touch lip to lip... or was there more to it?
Has Daniel ever kissed anyone?
There are ZOMBIES. There is a necromancer at large. Stop thinking about his fucking lips.

Overall: A rather dull, wholly inconsistent and unconving book with little sense of danger. You'd be better off reading The Walking Dead comic.
Profile Image for Sarah Maas.
Author 101 books309k followers
May 12, 2011
SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY is fabulous, imaginative, and romantic! Eleanor is such a fantastic and strong heroine, and the world-building is top-notch. I absolutely adored it and can't wait for the sequel!!
319 reviews1,885 followers
September 9, 2012
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Holy crap this was awesome. I don’t even want to write a review; I just want to bask in the awesomeness that is Something Strange and Deadly. (But you know, I kind of have to write a review, so here goes it.)

Eleanor Fitt is a sixteen-year-old living with her mother in Philadelphia, in the dawn of attacks from the walking Dead brought upon Philadelphia by a mysterious and unknown necromancer. To make matters worse, Eleanor receives letters from her long-lost brother, Elijah, and the content of the letters leads Eleanor to believe the necromancer has held Elijah hostage. Desperate to save her brother from the hands of the evil necromancer, Eleanor teams up with a group known as the Spirit-Hunters, all the while having to keep her strive to save her brother a secret from her overprotective mother, and everyone else.

Something Strange and Deadly was such an incredibly fun read, and I just loved it. There. That’s my review. What? I need to write more? Well, crap.

The plot for Something Strange and Deadly is very creative, and just a whole new take on the zombie genre. Instead of the zombies most people are typically used to, these zombies aren’t really even zombies. They’re animated corpses that do whatever their animator, the Necromancer, orders them to do. The Necromancer is an unknown person who is just wreaking havoc on all of Philadelphia by unleashing an army of the undead. I use the term “unknown” semi-lightly, because I had guessed who the Necromancer was a little too early in the book, but it didn’t really take away from my enjoyment, and I still ended up loving it.

The characters—especially Eleanor—were top-notch and were flawed in their own little ways, but they were still strong, amazing and extremely likable. Right off the bat I knew that I would like Eleanor; she’s stubborn, self-reliant, witty and strong. She knows what she wants, when she wants it, and won’t take no for an answer. As well as that, she is determined, and once she sets her mind on something, she goes through with it (these are the types of heroines we all need in YA). Aaaand, the relationship between Eleanor and her love interest (can I say who it is? Is that a spoiler?) is not insta-love, and their relationship actually takes time to develop and to form into something. (Yay!) Their romance also isn’t heavily relied upon in the book, and is more of just something that rides alongside the plot.

If you’re reading this book expecting a massive zombiefest, you may be a bit disappointed in it. Yes, zombies are a big part of Something Strange and Deadly, but it’s not the main part. Throughout most of the book, there’s tons of character development, relationship development, lots of scenes in which Eleanor discovers secrets she never knew existed, and other scenes of the like. All of those scenes take a much larger part in Something Strange and Deadly than the zombies (in my opinion).

And I know I’m jumping around a bit, but in my review I just need to mention that ending. That ending was just perfection! Everything about it I loved, and although I did see the Necromancer twist coming, there were other things I hadn’t seen coming, and I thought it was an extremely clever ending (but then again, the whole book is clever). And that last chapter, *sigh*, that was just an amazing last chapter, and I want the next book now. (pleeease?)

And now I have a few more survival tips for the impending zombie apocalypse (because it’s bound to happen, people):

Tip One: It’s not dead unless it’s completely and totally mangled.

Tip Two: Umbrellas can also be used as weapons.

Tip Three: Always aim for the knees.
Profile Image for Giselle.
990 reviews6,366 followers
July 21, 2012
EDIT 07/20/12: Did anyone else not notice the gears behind the girl on the cover? Because I hadn't until just now O_O Awesome!


When I went into this, I was expecting a zombie book in a steampunk setting with some mystery elements. What I actually got was a paranormal fantasy with a cute romance, a fun mystery, but not nearly enough zombies for my tastes. I still enjoyed it for the most part, it was simply different than what I was expecting.

Zombies are how we get introduced to this world Susan has created. A memorable start during a zombie attack, to which begins the mysterious plot of the book: what has happened to Eleanor's brother, and who is controlling these undead. These aren't your diseased, all consuming brain eating zombies; in Something Strange and Deadly, the zombies are literally plucked from their graves, and controlled by a necromancer. This was easily my favorite part of the story, but as I stated, these undead are merely on the back burner, making very few appearances, while Eleanor works with the spirit-hunters to find her brother and expel the evil spirit on her trail.

Creativity is definitely at work in this story. The steampunk world, the language, the attire - it all stems from an incredible imagination. I could easily picture everything vividly, and in no way did I feel overwhelmed by the detailing or contraptions that can sometimes happen in a steampunk setting. The plot itself is full of intrigue and even tough it's not necessarily action-packed, I was made to care about the characters to such degree that I constantly wanted to know what was in store for them next. I was also kept engaged by the myriad of mysteries woven into this novel. Some of it is predictable, but for the most part I was in the dark until the very end.

Eleanor is an easy to connect with character. I particularly loved her feistiness throughout, especially when dealing with the stubborn spirit-hunters. The romance, though not a huge part of the story, is played in nice and sweet giving us enough to quench our thirst, but making us positively longing for more. I found this much more refreshing than an instant connection. It's believable and gives us time to get to know them independently before being thrown lustfully together.

A highly creative, well written paranormal fantasy novel, I would recommend Something Strange and Deadly to all fans of the steampunk genre. Don't anticipate a true zombie book like I did, and I'm certain you will be quickly absorbed in this Victorian world full of secrets and lies.

For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads
Profile Image for Kat Kennedy.
475 reviews16.2k followers
July 14, 2012
Some­thing Strange and deadly had a really rough start with me. There is a divide between the writ­ing of the first chap­ter and the rest of the novel. The first chap­ter gave me the false impres­sion that this book was flimsy, badly writ­ten and suf­fer­ing from stag­nant char­ac­ters and plot.

How­ever, this quickly faded away as Den­nard hit her stride – intro­duc­ing fresh, inter­est­ing char­ac­ters, and intrigu­ing plotline.

Den­nard cre­ates an inter­est­ing and fresh mythol­ogy in Some­thing Strange and Deadly that mixes aspects of Steam­punk with good ol’ zom­bie fun. In Elanore we find a fun, will­ful pro­tag­o­nist – dri­ving the story for­ward and flesh­ing it out with wit, humour and a charm. She also makes a per­fect bal­ance between what you would expect of well-bred lady of her times, and a strong-willed, intel­li­gent woman eager to prove her­self. She cer­tainly makes excel­lent use of her para­sol at cer­tain points in the novel in a way that would make wom­ankind proud. How­ever, I’m con­vinced that the para­sol was its own char­ac­ter in this novel. Para­sols make every­thing bet­ter. Para­sols are awe­some, but I digress…


Daniel, Jie and Joseph are the icing to a very fun cake. Par­tic­u­larly Daniel, with his abra­sive, work­ing class atti­tude and grouchy per­son­al­ity, which played nicely against Joseph’s gen­tle­manly per­sua­sions and Jie’s seri­ous case of kick­ass. Like, she just really kicked everyone’s butt in this novel at least three times and never once complained.

I’m one of those peo­ple who like steam­punk things with mon­sters. Abra­ham Lin­coln: Vam­pire Hunter sounds like a ter­ri­ble, stu­pid movie that is per­fect for me.

What was extremely refresh­ing was that whilst there was some roman­tic involve­ment, it clearly took a back seat to the more press­ing issue of masses of walk­ing undead try­ing to make mince meat out of your inter­nal organs. Plus there was mys­tery and intrigue and more mys­tery and action and butt kick­ing inter­spersed evenly and gen­er­ously through­out the novel.

My only real com­plaint – putting the first chap­ter aside – was one minor issue and that relates to the sim­ple­ness of the mystery.

The end­ing was sim­ply too obvi­ous and came as some­thing of a let­down to real­ize my sus­pi­cions from the very begin­ning were confirmed.

Owl face
When you resem­ble an owl and make this face, you know the mys­tery has been too easy.

Over­all, this was a great read and I strongly antic­i­pate the next one!
Profile Image for Maja (The Nocturnal Library).
1,013 reviews1,890 followers
June 11, 2012
Ever since her father passed away, Eleanor Fitt’s life hasn’t been the same. Her brother Elijah is away in college, the money is seriously lacking, and her mother is obsessed with regaining their place in society. When her brother fails to arrive home for the second time and a walking corpse brings his vague note instead, Eleanor becomes convinced that Elijah is a victim of some necromancer and starts moving heaven and earth to find him. With no one else to turn to, she goes to the Shadow Hunters, a pretty odd group of people who travel from town to town, fighting the spirits and the undead.

Something Strange and Deadly is a lovely, well-written and fast-paced adventure, but the worldbuidling leaves a lot to be desired. There is no background, there is no context, you get thrown into a sink-or-swim situation and you must either take it in stride or give up entirely. Two different types of dead are walking: the slow ones and the fast, hungry ones; there are evil and powerful spirits about; the Shadow Hunters, employed by the city, have a way of fighting the undead; Eleanor is in the middle of it all right from the start, and yet, we are given no explanation whatsoever. Why is it normal, almost accepted, for the slow corpses to walk, but not the fast ones? Why are séances the most popular entertainment of high society? Who raises both types of the dead?

The pacing was so fast, it reminded me of a rollercoaster ride at times. I never really got a chance to catch my breath. This worked doubly to Dennard’s advantage: for one, the story was so easy to get into, and besides, even when I knew I should be irritated by one of Miss Fitt’s especially rash conclusions, I just didn’t have time to think about it too hard.
To give credit where credit is due, though, Dennard did surprise me a couple of times and that doesn’t happen often these days. Her story had quite a few unexpected twists and turns and was rather original in some ways.

Oddly enough, romance was my favorite part, and I’m usually not a romance-is-my-favorite-part kind of girl. It was entertaining and subtle, not relevant to the story and certainly not in the spotlight. I liked Daniel a lot, he brought so much humor into every scene and his constant teasing of Eleanor, even in most dire of situations, made me laugh out loud several times. Her bristling and reluctant respect were also quite amusing.
He was grinning wide. The rascal was teasing me! And before I could summon a worthy retort, he whistled brightly and sauntered ahead of me.
Blazes, he was cocky. And entirely too dashing for his own good – or for
my own good, rather.

I think the word rascal describes Daniel pretty well.

Do I think this book has something new to offer, despite the faulty worldbuilding? Yes! Will I be reading the sequel? Yes, yes, yes. Susan Dennard knows how to keep her readers interested without resorting to a vicious cliffhanger that would make them feel cheated. I just wish she would write a bit faster.

Also posted at The Nocturnal Library
Profile Image for Grace (LovingDemBooks) Z..
189 reviews1,420 followers
June 24, 2015
Buy this book HERE on Amazon
or buy this book on BookDepository with FREE WORLDWIDE SHIIPPING

3 of 5 stars (Please read my rating system further below). I began to realize that Something Strange and Deadly was probably the book that made me realize that I really really really REALLY like steam punk. I'd always loved movies and TV that was steam punk, so I guess it makes sense that I would love steam punk novels. I loved Eleanor. She was so funny and stubborn to the point where the way she behaved around her family and friends reminded me how I act around my own family and friends. Do I get to call Eleanor a #relateableteen now?! I think yes. Daniel is either equally as stubborn and quirky as Eleanor is, or even more. It's great. Those two are quite the perfect match! If you're looking for a quick and fun read that's historical fiction with quite some steam punk, I'd definitely say that this is the book for you! I'm really glad the BookBusters decided to read this book. Thanks so much to Susan Dennard for also participating with us! (:

To join the BookBusters book club, click here: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...

My rating system: (I do use half stars.)
5 - I do not use the 5 star. Not because a book might not be worthy, but because a book is never perfect.
4 - I loved it! There weren't too many flaws, and I had no trouble getting through it. (A 4 star rating is the highest rating I've ever given a book.)
3 - I enjoyed the book, but there we're flaws that made me enjoy it less.
2 - I finished the book, but there were too many flaws for me to enjoy it.
1 - I could not finish the book, and I probably did not finish it....
Profile Image for Bonnie.
1,371 reviews920 followers
August 16, 2017
2.5 stars

I'm a huge fan of world building. To me, it's vital that you set the scene with a proper introduction in order to hook the reader from the very first page. Unfortunately, you don't get a lot of that with 'Something Strange and Deadly' initially so it took me a while to get into it. The opening scene dives right into the action where Eleanor is picking up her brother from the train station not realizing that the walking dead is everywhere. The zombies are explained a bit further later in the book but using this as the opening scene didn't work in my opinion, especially since it continued to be fast paced and ceased to slow down any time soon.

The 'zombies' really played a small part in the story, much less of a part than I had expected. Plus they weren't truly zombies, they were dead bodies which were being controlled by a necromancer which is completely different. The magic and the steampunk and the explanation was explained fairly well; however, I found it to be too over the top.

This book was chalk full of characters that appeared to be quite shallow and essentially difficult to like. I had difficulty liking Eleanor at first (I kind of came around to liking her by the end though) and I immediately disliked Clarence because, really... Clarence? Besides his name, he was quite pompous and clearly thought he was better than anyone and everyone. Hard type of person to like, even if you want to feel bad for him because his name is Clarence. And then there was the immediate familiarity between Eleanor and Clarence. At the seance that her mother was hosting at the very beginning of the story, Clarence and Eleanor had never met yet after a single conversation not only is Clarence bossing her around but Eleanor is as well, expecting him to explain himself.

"I would greatly appreciate it if you would keep our conversation in the hall to yourself."
"Of course," I said primly. "Thought I want some explanation of your behavior."
"How about a bouquet or roses instead? Or a new hat?"

The book lacked a whole lot in the explanation area too. It did more of the 'simple state' rather than talk about something and show with supporting evidence. Considering this is a steampunk story and explanation can be difficult I'd give it a pass; however, I've read some well written steampunk stories so I do know that it's possible to pull off. Here are just a few circumstances that I had issues with:

"Can you stop a spirit like that?"
"Yes, in the same way I stop the walking Dead. I magnify an electric spark and break apart the soul."

Is that supposed to be a sufficient explanation?

"Your letter was covered in spiritual energy."
How exactly is that possible? It's KIND OF explained later that these particular goggles that can see said spiritual energy operate on magnetic energy, fluid with magnetic powder, and are calibrated with grave dirt... I don't know. You lost me completely. Steampunk and I do not get along.

Bottom line I can see the appeal but I don't think this was the book for me.
Profile Image for Lauren Stoolfire.
3,568 reviews259 followers
October 18, 2018
I had Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard on my tbr for way too long, but I'm glad I decided to finally pick it up for the FraterFest Read-A-Thon. I mean, this steampunk and zombies story is perfect for this time of year. I'm really looking forward to book two, A Darkness Strange and Lovely. I expect you'd enjoy this if you also like The infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare, The Diviners by Libba Bray, and Lady Helen by Alison Goodman.
Profile Image for ♥Rachel♥.
1,855 reviews846 followers
July 18, 2012
3.5 Stars

Sixteen year-old Eleanor Fitt lives in a time of corsets and petticoats. A time where a lady's behavior is governed by strict rules of decorum. A time when Eleanor's mother is dead set on her finding and marrying a rich man to rescue their family from impeding financial ruin. But this is also a time of the Dead. The Dead are reanimated corpses plaguing the city, and Eleanor is afraid her brother, Elijah, has been captured by the one commanding them, the necromancer. The day Elijah is supposed to return home to Eleanor and her mother, a letter is delivered to her by one the Dead. Elijah explains that as long as he helps a mysterious "him," he should be able to come home. This is very little to go on so Eleanor seeks the help of the Spirit-Hunters. They're group hired by the city to control and get rid of the corpses that walk and terrorize the living. Soon Eleanor is tied up with this small band, looking for and stopping the necromancer, the one she fears is holding her brother. Instead of putting all her efforts into securing the most eligible bachelor, Clarence Wilcox, she's running all over the city uncovering clues and helping devise plots to destroy the necromancer. Whether she's interested or not, however, Clarence seems to be connected to recent murders, and Eleanor has no choice but to get close to him, to find out what secrets he hides.

This story was full of sass, action and gore. Sass on the part of spunky heroine Eleanor and Daniel, one of the brilliant but flippant Spirit-Hunters. Their interactions reminded me of Han Solo and Princess Leia, especially when Daniel would call Eleanor "Empress." I cracked up at this:

*He wagged a warning finger. "Don't think I'll look after you, though--the world would be better off with one less princess." "I'm not a princess," I huffed, beating my brain for some worthy retort.
"A queen then?"
"No! That's not what I meant--"
"Oh, an
empress. I see. Pardon me, Your Majesty." He swooped into a crouched bow, and when his torso sprang back up, a smile floated at the edge of his lips.

I liked Eleanor's pluck and courage, and connected with her character right away. However, I had a hard time feeling Eleanor's distress at her missing brother, Elijah. Their relationship is touched on so briefly and superficially that I had a hard time caring that he was missing or in danger. While I had fun overall reading this, I must say that this story sort of dragged for me until I reached the half-way point. It wasn't until then, that the story exploded into non-stop action, and my heart was pounding as I read the pages. Also, at this point the romance finally started to come together, and turned out to be very sweet. However, the ending sort of made my mouth drop, and I hope we have some further development in this area in the next book. So while it took a bit to really get going, I thought it was very promising start to this series. I'll definitely pick up the sequel.

*Quote taken from uncorrected proof and may differ from the final copy.

Thank you to Edelweiss and Harper Teen for allowing me to read this.

You can find this review and more at The Readers Den.
Profile Image for Wendy Higgins.
Author 23 books7,951 followers
October 13, 2013
Historical fiction + Zombies = WIN

I love when an author has done their historical research and captures all the nuances of a gone era. I also love when a storyline completely takes me by surprise with a cool twist.
Profile Image for Jenelle.
907 reviews34 followers
December 11, 2015
I'm completely undone: my nerves are twitching, my pulse is racing, and my fingers are trembling as I type....

Have I entered the Twilight Zone? Am I on Candid Camera? Maybe the Earth's polarity has been reversed? Because right now I cannot even fathom how this book has gotten such good ratings so far, when in fact it is


I wish I could make that word ten times bigger just to emphasize how utterly craptacular this book is. So, so, so, soooooooo laughably ridiculous and cringe-inducing and positively sloppy--- I'm still reeling from the shock that people actually like this thing.

Since I seem to be in the minority, I assume you'll want some justification. No problem. But sadly I don't think there's enough room to copy and paste the entire text in as evidence. I'll have to just try to sum it up.

First thing you have to know, though, is that what I read was an ARC and could have been completely revised and edited before the official release. I honestly hope that's true.

Also, I think I should warn you, if you're still thinking you might check out the book, now is the time to stop reading this review, cause I am not going to hold back on details and that means spoilers-- like, all of them.

Still with me? Alright, here we go:

So the first chapter actually rocked. You jump right into the action of zombies in Victorian Era Philadelphia. I was totally on board. But then something weird happened. A zombie delivers a message to Eleanor, the protagonist, then walks away. Hm. Odd. Not typical zombie behavior but whatever. I'll go with it. Anyway, its from her brother, and she concludes this means he's being held prisoner by the zombies. Again: Hm. (I thought half the deal with zombies was the mindless hunt for brains, not errands).

Blah, blah, blah, the story moves on; her family is out of cash, she needs to snag a rich husband, and she has some dirt on the most eligible bachelor in town, so now they're hanging out as a form of blackmail.

In the meantime, the World Expo is in town, and some Spirit Hunters are there to help out with the zombies, which apparently, aren't that uncommon in small numbers, but there's been an epidemic. The spirit hunters, a debonair black gentleman from New Orleans who does Voodoo and speaks french *phonetically*, a hot guy who makes steampunk gadgets, and a little Chinese ruffian who turns out to be a girl. Of course, Eleanor enlists their help to find her brother and the spirit that's been unleashed from a party seance gone wrong.

She starts helping them, more zombies come, there must be a necromancer controlling them, her brother was studying related stuff so that must be why the necromancer has him. (beat) Riiiggghhhtt---duh, her brother is the necromancer.

If that wasn't obvious enough, guys her brother went to school with start showing up decapitated, and rich boyfriend thinks he's next. Not too hard to figure out that these are probably the boys she's talked about who bullied her brother, not to mention the sons of the guys who ruined her dad. Big brother is doing some avenging....with a zombie army.

As far as the romance goes, there were two obvious candidates for the position, and neither one seemed to want the job, nor did Eleanor appear to care. No sparks, no magic, no ANYTHING, except annoyance. There is a moment with each guy when they're mad at each other, and she's a little bit freaked out cause they're so angry they've grabbed her wrists or whatever, and then she gives some lame internal comment that is like "Ow that hurts, I wonder if this means he likes me," and then the moment is gone. She mentions thinking about them sometimes, but always in connection with the zombie drama, and only the faintest bit of interest in them personally.

Then, *gasp*, rich boy goes missing, the zombies have taken over the Expo, turns out her brother IS the necromancer, rich boy was the bully and shambles in as a headless zombie, the evil spirit who's been around once or twice is the Spirit Hunter's evil Voodoo friend who was conveniently mentioned in the beginning, and oh yeah, big bro wants to bring their dad back from the dead. Not to be a zombie, but to just pick up his old life 6 years later and be proud of his kid and finally run for city council, naturally.

Oh, and by the way, Eleanor suddenly has feelings for the dead bully boy, but darn, he's dead, not to mention headless, so by default that narrows it down to steampunk inventor boy. They meet up in the street, they argue, then awkward silence. Then, because the story necessitates it, they kiss for a sentence or two, and he says it was a mistake and they go off to stop her brother.

(Don't worry, I'm almost done).

Brother is having a hard time reanimating dad's skeleton, so he borrows some of Eleanor's spirit power (If he's a necromancer that means its in her blood too- obviously), zombie dad kills bro, she takes down dad, and evil spirit swoops into to possess bro's body. They have a final battle, Eleanor uses her new-found power to level the zombie army, and the only casualty, (besides her brother, who has an Obi-Wan Kanobi/ Anakin Skywalker spirit goodbye with dad) is Eleanor's hand.

Yes, it is mangled by a zombie. And yes, she loses it. That's right, as in amputated.

The kicker is, now that she's left handed, her brother has destroyed the town with everybody's dead relatives, the evil spirit is still walking around in his body, the rich boy is dead, her reputation is shot, her family is destitute, etc, etc.... well, the spirit hunter's are skipping town and so she asks inventor boy "So, you don't love me then." And he says, "No" and she says, "That's cool" and they leave and maybe she'll catch up with them later, THE END.

I'm already exhausted just recapping the story, so i'm not going to waste more time by rehashing the details, but I hope you see where I'm going with this. In short, this book is dumb; the story is painfully predictable, the characters are flat and boring, and everything in between is contradictory or nonsensical.

Something Strange and Deadly is henceforth going down as one of the three most idiotic books I can't believe I've read (the others being Torn and Article 5), all infamous for making me want to scratch my own eyeballs.
Profile Image for Anne.
3,918 reviews69.3k followers
November 15, 2012
Hmmm. From the tile and cover, I thought this was going to be a much darker story. I also thought the zombies would be a little scarier. See, in this story, the zombies are controlled by a necromancer, and you don't get infected or anything when they bite you. You just lose a hunk of skin, which admittedly, does not sound appealing, but...

At any rate, I still flew the book. I'm not really sure what I liked about it, but the fact that I finished it with no problem makes me feel like it's at least worth 3 stars.
Profile Image for Soumi.
Author 1 book378 followers
August 30, 2013
“Even the greatest feats of man lose their luster when one's head is filled with storm clouds.”

I was always in love with steampunk novel, the corsets, the parasols, the automations; everything is so luxurious and mysterious in equal measure. And undead corpses in steampunk novel earned extra credits. The story begins at 1876 Philadelphia, where a necromancer is raising the deads from grave and killing members of the most respectful families. Elenor Fitt has plenty to worry about her brother, who has been held captive by the same necromancer, and her family is going through economical crisis. He mother wants to marry her off to any rich gentleman and all she wants to find out the truth of her missing brother. As the spirit hunters came to protect the town from the undead problems and Elenor has no choice but including their help.


The story was unique and amazing, gripping right from the start. The book was very creative work of author Susan Dennard. She didn’t go for details describing the whole 1876’s steampunk Philadelphia, she mainly inclined to the storyline which made the book fast paced and much more exciting. I also adore her writing style which doesn’t contain tough vocabularies as other steampunk novels yet very sophisticated writing, making the book easy and stylish read for anyone.

The heroine Elenor is just sixteen years old teenage girl struggling with problems of her own. She is mature than her age, naïve yet very deterministic girl. Her curiosities in order to find her brother lead her to make choices and overstep the social boundaries but she never gave up, even when she was aware of the consequences coming with it. She is the one who actually cares for her family’s welfare unlike her mother who is completely sallow and snob Victorian women knew nothing but how to maintain reputation.

There is Daniel, absolutely arrogant and alluring, I love every particular moment he appeared into the story. His presence is dark with his own secrets of past and light with his cocky attitude. Not only has an excellent fighter, Daniel invented scientific gadgets that help them fighting the undeads. He feels for Elenor, often calls her Empress, he is not afraid to fight with zombie, he is afraid of showing his feelings for Elenor. They conflict and pain in love touched me very deeply and the ending literally broke my heart.
The book has many fascinating character, like Jei, the Chinese spirit hunter girl in disguise of a boy, and later proven to be very loyal friend of Elenor, Clarence, a mysterious and charming guilt ridden young gentleman, who like Elenor and cares for her.

The book is not actually some gruesome zombie novel like we have seen in recent years, full of violence and blood. It’s rather different one where the story circled around undead but not entirely focusing on them. It has black magic, and necromancy, romance with lot of emotions and actions. Something Strange and Deadly is a fine and elegant debut of author Susan Dennard, and successful of capturing many reader’s

The beautiful fan art of Something Strange and Deadly is done by lovely Nati at deviantart.com. Visit her more awesome work http://nati.deviantart.com/
Profile Image for Melissa.
300 reviews15 followers
December 13, 2011
Oh. My. God. IN LOVE! This book takes the walking dead to a whole new level! This whole book keeps you on the edge of your seat waiting to see what Eleanor is going to do next!

Eleanor is so amazing. I kind of feel bad because her mother is horrible, she doesn't know where her brother but knows somehow is with the dead. Throughout this book Eleanor takes risks she doesn't even know she is taking and she is brave, stubborn and doesn't really care what people think about her. She is scared she is going to get married off to someone so her mother can show her face again! Then she goes to the Spirit - Hunters and there is Daniel who she is drawn to in a way but he is crabby and unpredictable and makes me fall in love with him. Throughout this book you are chewing your nails waiting to see what is going to happen next, who is the necromancer and when you find out it is like a DUH moment.

Everything starts adding up for Eleanor as well, and she takes it in stride and she just blows me away with everything she does in this book and takes heroine also to a whole new level. This book is a MUST read and will be coming to you in JULY 2012.
Profile Image for shady boots.
500 reviews2,036 followers
May 2, 2015
I read an ARC of this two years ago and fell madly in love. This second time around, the same thing happened. This book is an absolute joy, and I can't wait to further indulge myself in this series!
Profile Image for Mary ♥.
442 reviews101 followers
February 6, 2020
4/5 stars

Miss Fitt, you know curiosity gets men killed."
I grinned. "Then I daresay it's good I'm a woman.

Something to listen to while reading this ♥

I read Something Strange and Deadly for a buddy read with a book club, and it was my pick for the month, which is why I was very happy to see it included. You all know by now how much I enjoy a good steampunk or historical fantasy read with a strong main character and a diverse cast. To be fair, this wasn't as steampunk as I expected, as there wasn't much explanation for the machines and techniques that were used. It was also not that historical, because in terms of etiquette, many things were not possible in that era. These things though do not mean I did not enjoy this book.

I found the romance, and specifically the "love triangle" (which it actually wasn't) dragged the story a little, which is why it lost some of its potential in my mind, but it still a book I find myself thinking about very much. There was a twist I wasn't a big fan of, for personal reasons, but I will not go into detail due to spoilers. I will only say that I had seen it coming. Still, this was such an enjoyable story and I found myself smiling, clapping, crying and being excited many times throughout its course.

The writing was a lot like how I imagine it would be, and I loved the bits of sarcasm and wacky humor this had, as well as the more solemn, serious expressions of pain, love, grief and worry. This book handled the concept of grief and trauma in such a good way, and it actually surprised me how deeply the author took it. The plot had lots of twists and turns, some of them expectant and some others utterly surprising, and I loved the way everything built up from the start to the end.

My favourite characters were of course the Spirit Hunters (is anyone surprised?) as they were such an incredibly formed team, and they all had their own personal reasons to help the world get rid of the Dead. Joseph and Jie were the greatest, but Daniel's snark had me laughing a lot too. Eleanor herself was a very wonderful protagonist in my opinion, and I really liked the play with her name.

Overall, I really enjoyed this story and I recommend it for fans of YA paranormal romances and mysteries, as well as people who are starting to get into the historical fantasy and steampunk genres ♥ It will not confuse you and you will enjoy it to the fullest ♥

Until the next review, keep reading ♥
Profile Image for Nanna.
253 reviews132 followers
June 3, 2015
3.5 stars!

I enjoyed it but I wasn't surprised by it. I thought it was okay. I found up because I can definitely see this being a really good series!

I did enjoy the characters—especially Eleanor, but that's pretty much it. So I hope we get to see more of them in the future.

But I probably won't run out soon & buy the second book. Whoops.

Profile Image for Ferdy.
944 reviews1,111 followers
July 29, 2012
Sixteen-year-old Eleanor Fitt lives with her mother in Philadelphia, she's very much aware that the Dead have been rising and causing havoc all over Philadelphia. However since Eleanor has never seen the Dead she's more concerned about her beloved brother, Elijah, returning home from his studies. Eleanor thinks her brother will be able to solve the family's money problems and stop her mother obsessing over her prospects of finding a rich man to marry. Eleanor's hopes are dashed though when a renanimated corpse seeks her out to deliver a note from Elijah, informing her that he's unable to return home as planned. Eleanor is convinced that her brother is in some kind of trouble involving the walking Dead so she decides to investigate. She seeks out the Spirit Hunters who have been sent to Philadelphia to deal with the Dead to help her save Elijah.

-The plot was predictable and mostly boring. I knew what was going to happen within the first few chapters - there was zero mystery because everything was executed so heavy handedly. I thought this would be a steampunk zombie novel, but since the 'zombies' only attacked people and didn't infect anyone there was no sense of real doom or danger and so it felt more like a magic/necromancer/voodoo type of novel.

-The world building was pretty poor. There was mentions of petticoats, carriages and parasols but it wasn't enough to make me feel like I was reading about 1870's Philadelphia. It didn't really have any strong elements of steampunk - there were a few mechanical gadgets thrown in but they didn't really seem to fit in with what was going on.

- I found Eleanor mostly annoying with her not so witty and not so clever remarks. She was too nosy and went around demanding answers in things she had no business with. She also stuttered, murmered and mumbled way too much. I'm getting tired of heroines wetting or licking their lips whenever their unsure or nervous and heroines who lift their chin high when their being stubborn or 'bwave' - its not endearing, its irritating.

-I wasn't impressed that Eleanor was pretty much the only girl that even had a bit of substance - the rest are potrayed as shallow, silly and brainless. Jie was a decent female character but the fact that she dressed and acted like a man to blend in made me think of her as one of the boys.

-The explanations of how to fight ghosts and the Dead and how to raise them just seemed like nonesense. If science is going to be used to explain paranormal going on's then it has to at least seem a little plausible - it was like no research or effort was put in to make the how's and why's believable.

-The expression shut pan instead of shut up was used throughout the book. Everytime a character said shut pan it would just jolt me out of the book because it just didn't flow with the rest of the dialogue.
I hate when words and phrases are constantly repeated in a book - I suppose it wouldn't be so bad if it took me a few weeks to finish a book but since I usually read a book in 2 sittings the recurrent terminology gets extremely grating.

-The romance was fairly dull. The love interest Daniel was actually an ok character - I liked that he wasn't rich or overly arrogant or the best looking guy ever. But for most of the book I didn't think that Daniel even liked Eleanor all that much, since he looked down at her and also checked out other girls. I suspect that he'll probably show more interest in Eleanor in the next book (if he's in it).

Overall I didn't find this entertaining, the ending was a tad more exciting but by then I didn't really care about any of the characters so I didn't really enjoy it as much as I should. I probably won't read the rest of the series unless it either gets good reviews or of I have absolutely nothing else to read.
Profile Image for Regan Leigh.
Author 2 books12 followers
April 19, 2011
I guess I should clarify first that I read a draft of the book being published. ;)

It's not out yet -- I'm lucky enough to have Susan for a friend -- but this book is already a big hit to me. I can't wait to read her other books! SSD is full of plot twists that you won't suspect and characters that are just plain badass cool. There's a sense of humor even in the dark scenes and lingering emotions that will have you all jittery to read the next book.

I'm not joking when I say Susan will be a huge author. Her prose and writing style are enough to make you read further, not to mention the great character voice compelling you ahead.
Profile Image for Amanda The Book Slayer.
476 reviews150 followers
May 27, 2012
Originally posted at Sisters Unedited

Recommend : This book rated right up there with Divergent and Angefall. It was quite original. Susan Dennard spins a tale about magic, hunters, and zombies. All you Steampunk fans will love this and those who have never read anything from that genre, well this is a good one to start with.


"A breath later, somber bells rang out, and I knew it was all very, very real. That was the Dead alarm.

I'd heard of corpses awakening-hungry and dangerous though still quite dead. The purpose of bells in coffins was, after all, to warn us; but if the word on the street was true, then in the last week more than a few bodies had escaped their graves."

The Dead Alarm went off as Eleanor Fitt was standing in line to see if her brother had sent word about why he wasn't on the train home. Panic decends and in order for Eleanor not to be trampled she heads into the now abandoned office. But Elenor is not so lucky. She is hiding behind the door by the desk when

"I lifted my gaze with deliberate caution and met the face that now waited outside the window, where only minutes ago I had waited. It was a corpse. One of the Dead."

Yes, a Zombie walks up to the check out window and drops a crumpled piece of paper and leaves. This alone is odd behavior because everyone knows that Zombies hunt endlessly until they are laid to rest or destoryed. After the Zombie leaves and the alarm turns off Eleanor snatches the note.

Mystery Note:
I can't come. Trouble in New York has caught up with me. Don't tell Moma-it will only worry her. And you shouldn't worry either. If I do what he needs, I can come home.
(her brother)

This note came at an inopportune time due to their father's death and money being tight. Elenor and her mom were counting on Elijah coming home and helping out finanically. To make matters worse her mother had already planned a welcome home party for Elijah and could not uninvite people so the last of the money was spent. Among the guest list are the Wilcoxes who happen to be quite wealthy and her mom has been hinting at Eleanor catching Clarence's eye.


Now the cool thing about this world is that seance's were regular party entertainment which I have to say was a cool twist. Yes, I did a happy dance when I saw that this book was going to have a dark twist in it with spirits.

This event suddenly becomes something more than just a show. A spirit slithered into the room as her mom was calling for her father. Her mom thought it was her father's spirit and so invited him in, but it was something far darker.

Elenor and Clarence were the only ones who could tell that something was off and wrong about the spirit. At this point my stomach dropped just like when the Ringwraiths showed up in The Lord of the Rings. This spirit does not bode well for things to come.


To make matters worse Eleanor sneaks out to see what Clarence is up to and finds a secret meeting with him and a mysterious man. She is caught before she could get back to the party. In order to keep Eleanor quiet he feels the need to "court" her. This attention from him causes discomfort between her and a few other girls. Which leaves her to once again stand on her own feet while finding help.

The help comes in an unlikely package in the Machinery Hall at the International Centennial Exhibition.

"The Spirit Hunters. Hired to protect. That was my answer!"

Meet and Greet Time!

Eleanor Fitt

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"You're an empress with grit and brains..."

Meet the mysterious girl from the cover of the book. Eleanor is the one who has been holding her family together since her dad passed and Elijah went to college. She manages the household accounts while making sure everything is running smoothly. But when her brother fails to show up on the train she gets thrown from one bad situation to another. In order to find out what has happened to her brother she must team up with the Spirit Hunters. This puts her in harms way more than once.

Daniel Sheridan


"Please forgive Mr. Sheridan. I am afraid he works better with machines than with people."

I dubbed him the 'Mad Scientist.' The one thing this picture is missing are his goggles that he wears when he works.
I always think of his hair sticking up everywhere and his clothing un-tucked in some places. Daniel and Eleanor can't seem to decide if they annoy each other or like each other. I enjoyed his character throughout. I thought that his rough around the edges appearance and personality were endearing.

Clarence Wilcox


He would be Alison's rich, very eligible brother. He has just come home from 2 years of college. He is around Eleanor's brother, Elijah's age. He seems to be tied up in his fathers past and is trying to break free. Due to Eleanor spying on him they team up to find answers under the disguise of courting. I really didn't like him at first but as time went on I found he had some redeeming qualities.

* I know there are more characters but I just wanted to give you a taste. If you want more you must read it!

We see that things are becoming more then Eleanor can handle; lack of money, lost brother, and scary spirit. We also get to see the Steampunk twist come into play with the Spirit Hunters.

My final thoughts on Something Strange and Deadly would be to give it a try. You might be pleasantly surprised to find out that when dealing with zombies always...

"Aim for the knees."

Thank you to H.D. Dodson for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review.
Profile Image for Keertana.
1,126 reviews2,163 followers
July 30, 2012
Rating: 4.5 Stars

You know how they say that some things that come into your life are exactly what you need and they always arrive at the exact time you need them? Well, my experience with Something Strange and Deadly was similar. I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump the past few days, reading books that I haven’t clicked with and writing steadily more and more snarky reviews for them, so when Something Strange and Deadly arrived on my doorstep, I was both overjoyed, excited, and just a tad bit skeptical. In all honesty though, I needn’t have worried. While I will admit that I am a tiny bit biased towards this novel due to its steampunk/historical fiction genre, parasol-wielding heroine, and handsome inventor-turned-romantic-interest, I think Something Strange and Deadly is a remarkably written debut novel that contains something to love for everyone, despite its flaws.

In a re-imagined Post Civil War setting, the dead are slowly rising and their armies are populating major Union Cities. When Eleanor Fitt, the daughter of a once wealthy and now deceased businessman, goes to pick up her elder brother Elijah from the train station, she is shocked to find that he has been kidnapped by the dangerous necromancer who is raising the dead and whose army has moved from New York to her own town, Philadelphia. Thus, Eleanor does the only thing she possibly can – she seeks the help of Spirit-Hunters, a small group of people who claim to be able to destroy the supernatural forces at work. While Eleanor begins to spend more and more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including the infuriating, yet handsome, rascal-turned-inventor Daniel, she also begins to uncover the truth about her own past, her father’s death, and most importantly, herself.

I don’t think I can even begin to describe how much I enjoyed this novel. Susan Dennard wastes no time in immersing the reader into her world and while the writing was a little sloppy in the first chapter, the action most certainly wasn’t. From there on, the pace is impeccable – fast-moving, intriguing and leaves you constantly turning the pages. Furthermore, I loved how the mystery of Elijah’s disappearance and the mystery of Eleanor’s suitor, the enigmatic Clarence Wilcox who also happened to be an old family friend, came together in an extremely clever manner. In addition, the obvious research Dennard put into her story, placing her characters in real-life settings, and her take on zombie/necromancer lore was both refreshingly original and entertaining.

Nevertheless, despite these wonderful quirks, I did have a slight difficulty adjusting to the setting of this novel. It takes awhile for the reader to realize just what time period the story takes place and I still have questions such as why Eleanor’s mother deemed it fit to conduct a séance and release a dangerous spirit, which happened to follow Eleanor throughout the novel. It isn’t the spirit itself that confuses me, but why séances were considered such a popular event in society during that time. In addition to the not-so-detailed world-building, I found aspects of the plot to be rather predictable, but thankfully they weren’t overly stressed like they were in Cinder and never cast Eleanor under the light of stupidity and nor did they particularly bother me, the reader.

While these flaws do remain to scar the otherwise perfect qualities of Something Strange and Deadly, they never detracted from the overall experience of the novel. Plus, what really made this story tick were the characters themselves. Eleanor is one of my favorite steampunk heroines – I love the way she brands her parasol menacingly, I love her sharp wit and ready intelligence, and I love the clever manner in which she manages to elude high society to help the Spirit-Hunters and her brother. Not only is she courageous, brave, and filled with admirable morals, she is also flawed, sarcastic, and vastly different from other women of her time. I simply adored reading her narration and to me, Eleanor felt like a long-lost friend.

Yet, Eleanor wasn’t the only amazing character in this tale. I loved Joseph, the leader of the Spirit-Hunters who was both wise and powerful. Not only was he kind to Eleanor, but he appreciated her efforts and seemed to constantly encourage her search for her brother and restore her faith in humanity. Jie, a young Chinese girl who managed to stay under the radar by dressing like a man, also became an immediate favorite. She makes Eleanor think about the choices she has and shows her that it is possible to live a life away from the expectations of society. While I loved the diversity that both Jie and Joseph, a black man, brought to this tale, my favorite secondary character was, without a doubt, Daniel. Daniel is many things – an inventor, a fighter, a Spirit-Hunter and, a dashingly handsome and infuriating young man. I loved the witty banter between him and Eleanor and their romance was extremely subtle and beautifully written. Perhaps best of all is the fact that their ending is realistic, shockingly bittersweet, and leaves the reader aching for more.

What else can I say about Something Strange and Deadly? It is traditionally a novel about zombies, filled with your usual paranormal and steampunk elements, but it also has a large emphasis on feminism, amongst other themes. I loved the subtle manner in which Dennard managed to weave diversity, social politics, and class hierarchies into this tale and that simply made it all the more richer for me. In addition, while characters such as Clarence Wilcox and Mrs. Fitt, Eleanor’s mother, were not my favorites, I did like the role Clarence played during the novel and Mrs. Fitts’ constant lecturing to Eleanor brought forth many cultural tid-bits of the time period which I thought was a nice touch. Most importantly however, while Dennard’s debut certainly does have its faults, I was able to overlook them and have a truly wonderful time reading this tale. It has quickly become one of my favorites, not only due to its gorgeous cover, but also due to its heart-warming characters who feel like my very own friends. Something Strange and Deadly is, without a doubt, one of the more notable, creative, and original debuts of the year and I cannot wait to get my hands on its sequel to see where this lovely new series is headed.

You can read this review and more on my blog, Ivy Book Bindings.
Profile Image for Stephen.
185 reviews100 followers
September 17, 2015
I had decided to take a break from YA of any genre. Then, I happened to win book 3 of this trilogy from a giveaway. So, obviously, I had to pick up book 1 first. I was also skeptical because it was marketed as steampunk. I had previously been un-impressed with the genre.

Well, I was pleasantly surprised with this one. What did I like?

1. The main character, Eleanor, had an advanced sensibility about her that placed her well ahead of the other, more shallow, members of her peer group. In the face of her mother's vapid personality and endless pursuit of narcissistic self-fulfillment, Eleanor proved to be a fully functional heroine.

2. I must confess something...I love the zombies in this book! As a fan of the Walking Dead and Night of the Living Dead, one would expect me to be stuck on the 'contagious' zombie. To the contrary, I am a huge fan of necromancer characters and reanimated corpses that do not spread a 'condition'.

3. The steampunk is light, restricted to a few gadgets. That may be why I was able to get so immersed in the story.

4. Also very light was the romance element. Flirting and crushes are described, but there is not a heavy focus on these relationships. This left a lot more room for plot development.

My one real disappointment is that the primary 'twist' or 'secret' was fairly easily sniffed out so that I had guessed it before I was half way through. But, never fear, there is another lesser 'twist' that actually provides some extra life to the plot.

Overall, this is a fun and action packed book. I am looking forward to continuing with number 2 very soon.
Profile Image for Jenny.
920 reviews181 followers
September 24, 2015
Wow, I loved this book! I do love both Zombies and Steampunk, and this had both! I'm still trying to process this book....the author really sucked me into Eleanor's world!

First of all, the whole thing felt like a Victorian novel. I don't know how she managed this, with all the sci-fi zombies and inventions, but it felt really authentic, like I was reading an old classic that I loved! The plot and the central mystery was so well done...it took awhile to figure out what was really going on and to solve the case, which I always enjoy!

The characters were amazing! Well thought out and great development. I really identified with Eleanor. She is a more modern girl, if it can be said. She felt just like a normal heroine in a current setting, but it was easy to imagine her floundering about in the world she lives in. All the support characters were also perfect. I could picture and hear each one in my head.

There isn't as much romance, mainly because of the time period the book is set in. People do not go around kissing each other until after they are engaged. But there is some hints at it, which I thoroughly enjoyed! There is plenty of excitement and adventure, though!

The ending was amazing, but left things wide open for the next book, which I cannot wait for! 5 stars for this beauty of a book!
January 5, 2015
I think its a better version of the infernal devices series(hence the missing brother, historical setting, etc) Eleanor, the protagonist, doesnt sit around and do nothing like Tessa and isnt half as judgemental, nerve wracking, whiny, useless or unworthy. It's great to read from a witty protagonist's PoV.

And the plot is way more intriguing than the infernal devices's. The love triangle also wasnt annoying AT ALL, because she chose a guy and stuck to him, plus eleanor and clarence werent really a thing, it was a forced marriage with one-sided affection. And clarence, you know..

Daniel and Eleanor though... Why did they have to part ways??*inserts crying emoji*

Heck, I shouldnt even be comparing this to shit like the infernal devices series... Really, the protagonist got blown by a dynamite and it left a burn mark on her face. I doubt Tessa would ever risk her life for anyone, or even care, or risk getting her 'beautiful' face scarred because she would be accused of hypocrisy the next time she insults or remarks on how she wouldnt want to live immortally if she was going to look as strange and ugly as a silent brother.

Anyways, so with all the things that irked me from the infernal devices removed, and with all the amazingness Susan Dennard had to offer, i'm giving this 4.4 stars.
Profile Image for Colleen Houck.
Author 39 books8,964 followers
July 17, 2017
I really enjoyed this historical zombie tale. The heroine is plucky and gets into all sorts of trouble. The gadgets are interesting as are the tie-ins to voodoo. The dead were as disgusting as you could wish for. =) Zombie fans, check this one out.
Profile Image for Katharine.
39 reviews
March 13, 2012
The book not only met but SURPASSED my expectations. I thought it was well-written, clever, creative and the pacing was extraordinary--

But the things I REALLY adored were the sheer imagination the author poured into this book, Eleanor herself and her personal growth, Daniel-- please God, Daniel-- and that the author did NOT hold back, in any way. She did not coddle these characters, and you can tell. It made for an extraordinary read. There were not easy answers. There were not storybook endings. And I loved it.

First, let me say-- the cover is gorgeous. You might not be able to tell at first glance that the background is a mesh of gears and works. It's beautiful and stunning-- just as I'd hoped. But don't let the cover lead you to believe that Eleanor is anything but kicka**.

It took me a few pages to get clued into the world of the book-- the Dead, we learn, are rising in Philadelphia, but this is not some kind of "Braaaaains"-zombie-type book. Eleanor's brother is missing, and in her work to find him, she discovers the Dead are being used by a necromancer for some ill purpose we, and Eleanor, do not yet understand. With the help of the Spirit Hunters, Eleanor will work to get to the bottom of the mystery.

I love a mystery where you get some clues along the way, but it's neither super obvious, nor so thrown together at the end that it proves illogical. This mystery is airtight and perfectly crafted.

And can I please talk about Daniel!!!! Is he a hero? An anti-hero? I don't care! He's a dreamboat. If his nerdy inventions didn't grab me, the SPARKS flying between he and Eleanor did! I see him as a young Tom Jane/Simon Baker/Jude Law. And I love that the relationship was honest and real-- that there were not, as I said before, easy answers to the conflicts.

I know I'm rambling, forgive me!

The take home message is: I loved the book, and I highly recommend it.

You should definitely give it a whirl in July when it's released!
Profile Image for Zoey Talbon.
198 reviews97 followers
May 15, 2015
Something Strange and Deadly can be a little scary. It can be funny. It can even be sexy.

While I was expecting more zombies, Something Strange and Deadly definitely didn't disappoint me. It's a book that you can easily immerse yourself in. I don't usually tend to read books set in the 1800s because they feel too formal and stiff to me. But SS&D isn't. At all. The setting is perfect the way Dennard portrays it. There's gossip, there's handsome men vying for women's hands, but behind it all, someone is raising the dead.

Eleanor is one of my favorite female characters. Period. She's just so likable. She's not full of herself, but at the same time she doesn't spend all her time worrying about trivial things like looks. She's not a genius, she's not the strongest girl you'll ever meet, but that's why I love her. And her relationship with Daniel. There's always a little bit of tension between them. (Also no insta!love. And you all know how I feel about that.) The chemistry between the two of them practically leaps off the page.

The plot, while slightly predictable, is still enjoyable. This book starts with a bang in the form of a zombie attack, but the zombies kind of fizzle out after that. The story is more centered around Eleanor's experiences with the Spirit-Hunters and her search for her brother. To be honest, I think the best part about the plot is the way Susan Dennard writes it. It's so easy to get caught up in.

My only complaint is that I felt like there were a few scenes that were entirely pointless. They seemed to have no real use in the plot.

Overall: Something Strange and Deadly is a surprising novel in more ways than one. With characters that are almost impossible to hate, a setting described perfectly, and an author who knows exactly what she's doing, this is a book you don't want to miss out on. 4 stars.
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