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Something Strange and Deadly #2

A Darkness Strange and Lovely

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Perfect for fans of Libba Bray's The Diviners and Cassandra Clare's The Infernal Devices series, this spellbinding sequel to Something Strange and Deadly delivers a mix of supernatural forces and intense romance, set against the enchanting backdrop of nineteenth-century Paris.

With her brother dead and her mother insane, Eleanor Fitt is alone. Even the Spirit-Hunters—Joseph, Jie, and the handsome Daniel—have fled to Paris. So when Eleanor hears the vicious barking of hounds and sees haunting yellow eyes, she fears that the Dead, and the necromancer Marcus, are after her.

To escape, Eleanor boards a steamer bound for France. There she meets Oliver, a young man who claims to have known her brother. But Oliver harbors a dangerous secret involving necromancy and black magic that entices Eleanor beyond words. If she can resist him, she'll be fine. But when she arrives in Paris, she finds that the Dead have taken over, and there's a whole new evil lurking. And she is forced to make a deadly decision that will go against everything the Spirit-Hunters stand for.

In Paris, there's a price for this darkness strange and lovely, and it may have Eleanor paying with her life.

408 pages, Hardcover

First published July 23, 2013

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About the author

Susan Dennard

20 books8,638 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 614 reviews
Profile Image for Keertana.
1,126 reviews2,165 followers
July 26, 2013
I think it's safe to say that I've finally learned not to count my chickens before they've hatched. If I'd had to pick one book this year I was wholly confident of loving, it would have been this one. Not only were the initial reviews stellar, but I had loved Dennard's debut and couldn't imagine not feeling the same rush of emotions for this novel. Thus, color me surprised to find myself underwhelmed and unimpressed by the end of this book. ADSaL is an excellent sequel - there is no doubt about that - but it is sadly not the sequel I wanted. Not in the least.

What makes Dennard such a strong writer is her excellent command of language and plot. Once again, she manages to seamlessly transport her reader into her chosen time period, this time re-creating Paris as it once was with its societal mores. Furthermore, it is clear that this trilogy has been thoughtfully pored over and planned. Dennard skillfully introduces Eleanor into the world of necromancy and drops just enough hints about the evil Marcus to keep us guessing and aching for the eventual conclusion that is to come. And all of this is done so, so well. From the introduction of Ollie, the demon who served Eleanor's brother and will soon come to serve her, to the battle Eleanor must face between embracing necromancy to save herself or choosing the safer path of her Spirit Hunter friends, every plot device is meaningful and furthers both the overarching story arc and Eleanor's own personal growth.

Yet, despite that, I was sadly disappointed by this. For one, Eleanor herself has intrinsically changed. As someone now dabbling in the "black arts" she feels more alone than ever and although she retains her headstrong spirit, she also turns to make many decisions - such as trusting strangers - that I couldn't comprehend. Furthermore, she no longer seeks libraries, brandishes parasols, or spends all that much time with her old friends. In other words, I found her rather difficult to connect with and though I appreciated her inner struggle, I can't say I wholly understood it. I still continue to love Eleanor and her narration, but perhaps not as much as I once did. She is a different woman alone than she is with the Spirit Hunters and I was especially unhappy by the fact that the secondary characters I'd grown to love were given such little screen time. In fact, they only appeared in the second-half of the novel and even then, only briefly. Although Eleanor's interactions with the Spirit Hunters were packed with depth, the majority of her storyline was spent with Ollie, who I couldn't seem to completely trust for the majority of the book. Additionally, Eleanor makes a few other new friends who are seemingly forgotten by the end - I do hope they reappear and have some significance in the concluding book.

As per the romance, the one aspect of this book I was possibly most looking forward to, I have to admit I'm torn. On one hand, Dennard perfectly captures the stubborn will of both Daniel and Eleanor and their few interactions are charged, each of them moving in tentative circles. At the same time, though, their relationship didn't progress much. Rather, this book only prolongs the inevitable. If it had had at least one meaningful conversation perhaps I wouldn't have felt so underwhelmed, but sadly I was. I do certainly appreciate that this middle novel was more a character-driven scope of Eleanor herself, but with her so changed and the secondary characters so absent, it was unfortunate not to have the romance to fall back on.

ADSaL may not have worked out for me, but it is still a stunning novel. I continue to be amazed at how perfectly this book ties together plot threads from the first novel and the inevitable conclusion to follow and it is a pleasure to read a book that skips the dreaded MBS entirely. ADSaL doesn't have a single boring word in its pages and will likely keep you glued to your seat. Despite its positive elements, I did enjoy its predecessor much more and missed many notable quirks and secondary characters in this one. I'm hoping they're all back in full blast for the conclusion, which I hope will resemble Dennard's debut a little more. All in all, not a bad book, just a bad one to expect too much out of.
Profile Image for Rimsha Salam.
105 reviews54 followers
July 21, 2016
After Reading:

Ok so clearly this one also gets the award of excellence, it was brilliant the plot, the characters everything altough I thing the author could have done a better job at hiding the villian increase a suspense a bit more, but still overall it was amazing the moment Daniel and Elanor met was perfect and I swear I laughed so hard at what Elanor said!
Check out my blogs for more reviews and book stuff: http://ramblingsofabookworm3.blogspot...

Before Reading:

Me when I saw the name of (Something Strange and Deadly, #2) :

Me when i read the Blurb of "A Darkness Strange and Lovely" :

Me when i read the release date:

Me waiting for it to be released:

The cover !!!!
Profile Image for Mitch.
355 reviews605 followers
August 1, 2013
Something Strange and Deadly was one of those books that's a lot of fun but also could've used a bit more depth. I mean, I like steampunk, I like zombies, why wouldn't I like steampunk and zombies? - but at the same time, the plot was also extremely predictable and the same cheesy humor that made the story so engaging also made it hard to take seriously. Great in small doses, but why would I want to read the sequel? Well as it turns out, because A Darkness Strange and Lovely (great title by the way, and completely appropriate to boot) is a second book that grows and matures almost as much as its heroine, Eleanor Fitt, that's why.

I usually like to start by talking about how awesome the plot is because I'm the kind of guy who gets bored easily, especially if I feel like I haven't gotten my fill of scenes of gentlemen getting their arms chomped on by zombies or ladies screaming in all directions while uselessly waving their parasols about in panic, but as I said in my review of the first book, my favorite part of this series actually isn't the zombie on human violence, but the characters (or at least some of them). Eleanor's a character who's all about balance - in the first book, it was being a proper Victorian lady on one hand and finding excitement by doing her own thing against her mother's wishes on the other, here, she's balancing the corrupting influences of her family's necromantic powers against the Spirit Hunter's reluctance downright hostility towards that kind of magic. I love how Susan Dennard has written a book where the right answers aren't just shoved in my face, where everything isn't black and white, but rather, asks questions like - is black magic inherently evil? - or is it the person using it that makes it evil? and then gave me answers that could go either way. And I also love how the events of the first book, which seemed so silly at the time, have transformed Eleanor's character from a naive ingenue into a gritty, more serious survivor type here - one of my favorite lines in fact is Eleanor talking about how she used to think Clarence was just a narrow minded suitor and her brother just an innocent victim, back when she was naive and stupid and thought the world was a good place - I've always said despite Something Strange and Deadly's shallowness and high level of predictability, a lot of the book was also about exceeding expectations and breaking stereotypes, and it's nice to see exactly that confirmation. Even the allure of necromancy breaks the mold; as the title says, darkness really is strange and lovely, and dangerous, and corrupting, and necessary, and misunderstood, and maybe in the right hands even a little bit good, and I just found all the different attitudes and nuances to what Eleanor must do and the difficult choices she has to make really well done.

The plot too I can say is a vast improvement from the first book. I'm sure I wasn't the only one who had the identity of the necromancer all figured out well before the end of that book, but this time around my theory going into the second half actually turned out to be wrong. Dennard definitely does a better job than before throwing red herrings around, complicating the situation behind les morts - the Dead - in Paris. In fact, one of the better decisions she's made is introducing new character Oliver, who on the surface appears harmless enough, but then she builds in all these clues pointing to him as the culprit, many of them in offhand remarks that I don't think the other characters even caught on to. After how obvious everything was in the first book, I had to check myself several times, trying to decide if an obvious villain really was the villain or figuring out how to explain another clue pointing to Oliver, and, well, even if the end result isn't exactly that hard to guess, I'm still glad Dennard managed to keep a few other things, like the motive behind the outbreak of undead, hidden up her sleeve until the last moment. Still, a few misdirects turned out to be great fake outs yet at the same time pretty unsatisfying hanging plot threads - the whole situation with Clarence for example - and I just kept getting the feeling this sequel seemed almost too short compared to the first book, with a few characters, Jie in particular, acting like Dennard ran out of ideas of things for them to do, so they ended up basically just showing up for old times sake and then being written out of the story. Other parts too, the entire situation in Paris in fact, could've been expanded on and just felt like it needed to be less rushed and used more development. Thankfully though, there are still plenty of zombie attacks along with other new supernatural threats, because I for one could always use more zombie on snooty French socialite violence, you know?

In fact, the only thing that really would've made this better would be if Daniel were eaten by a horde of the ravenous undead (yeah I really don't like him). I'm not saying this to incite fangirl wrath, but as I said, I just don't like things that are shoved in my face, and despite how I feel Dennard has done an awesome job making sure Eleanor falling for the allure of necromancy isn't shoved in my face, well, she shoves Daniel in my face, and it's annoying. Even worse, the love triangle with Clarence is still unresolved and until halfway through the story I could've sworn I'd be seeing a tetrahedron with Oliver too (thank goodness there aren't more characters or it'd be some sort of weird multidimensional web thing). And to add insult to injury, even though the other major characters all have fairly defined roles - new guy Oliver as Eleanor's connection to her dead brother while representing the dangers and unknowns of necromancy, and then Joseph being the safe mentor who just might possibly be holding her back with his caution and dislike of dark magic, with neither of them completely right or wrong and their whole situation as complicated as Eleanor's conflict over her necromantic powers - then unfortunately there's Daniel and he's just no offense the useless love interest who's only good for making Eleanor doubt herself, and I'm just the kind of guy who finds the designated love interest character a completely uninteresting, irksome cliche... and I just don't like his character... and somebody needs to be zombie chow... and I should probably stop before this paragraph devolves into a full blown rant of all the gruesome ways Daniel could be offed for the benefit of the story... a little girl with blackened teeth and the fetid rank of decaying flesh gorging on his intestines as they spilled out from a massive gash on his stomach, chewing on them like sausage links... OK I'm stopping now, I promise.

Bottom line though, Something Strange and Deadly was superficial, silly fun that belies a lot of heart, A Darkness Strange and Lovely forgoes the lightness of the first book but is still quite enjoyable in its own way. Now if only the zombie horde had claimed one more victim before all's good and done...
Profile Image for Sarah.
281 reviews55 followers
July 14, 2015
Even though this book has multiple flaws I will bring up, it possesses one quality I’ve struggled to find in books lately; it’s entertaining.
Boredom is my worst enemy, and I did not experience it during this book.
It was acceptable, but that doesn’t mean I’ll stop ranting about every PNR trope in it. That's what I live for.

Trope number 1: Our MC is like that secondary character, often best friend, found in fiction, who is just there without doing anything but still people worship her. Speshul snowflake!!!
Then near the end this character accidentally does something heroic and are deemed important to the story.
Why is Eleanor our narrator? There’s nothing remotely unique about her, she has zero personality and strength and she relies on others to save her.
Eleanor herself claims to be strong and intelligent, but never proves this. There’s little to her character besides the constant damsel in distress.

Trope number 2: ..You know what's coming, don't you? Every time I go into a YA paranormal book, I brace myself for a love triangle.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that Something Strange and Deadly only featured one love interest. 10 points to you, Glen Coco!
As I dove into this sequel, I immediately had a bad feeling.
Because a paranormal series just isn’t the same without a love triangle!
We have a ''smoking hot'' stalker demon, a character never before seen in the genre.
Buy one now and get extra angst for free.
New guy Oliver is a manipulative asshole and possible alcoholic. He possesses unique and charming qualities such as dark, moody and mysterious.
Not to mention that he he's a stalking creep.
He sneaks into her room while Eleanor is away and waits until she’s undressing to announce his presence.
What the actual fuck? Since Eleanor has the intelligence of a cracker, this isn't seen as weird and it is never mentioned again.

Trope number 3: Now make love interest nr 1 go from his okay but bland and shallow state to jealous and overprotective, all according to the rules. The first time he sees his rival, he turns on his alpha male mode and assumes the main character’s love life is his business. This is all shortly after he denied having romantic feelings for her, and pushed her away because it was awful convenient for the plot.

Trope number 4: Cue angst and soap opera writing. Make the MC dumber and more confused by every chapter. Throw in some magic and secondary characters, and you're done!

What made this a good sequel (aka things I liked about the book but have little memory of, hence the mostly negative review):
* A new setting. We’ve now moved from Eleanor’s hometown Philadelphia to Paris.
* A fast-paced plot.
* An interesting set-up for the next book.
* Lastly, it is surprisingly addictive and easy to read.
Not a series I would necessarily recommend, but it’s worth 3 stars for pure enjoyment. Also I'd take angst before boredom any day. Even if it makes my blood boil.
Profile Image for Shauna.
305 reviews37 followers
February 24, 2016
Ahhhhh, I need the next one now! But then it will be all over. :/ Conflicted!!!!!!!!

Daniel and Eleanor though! These two crazy kids, breaking my heart and then making me swoon... they have to be together in the last book. THEY HAVE TO. Please???!

I think I loved the first one more -I'm still sorting out my thoughts as I'm a little torn on a few things overall - but this was a fantastic sequel. The stakes were much higher, emotionally. Bonds were tested, not only with Eleanor and Daniel but with Eleanor and the Spirit Hunters, and oh my, it almost killed me. Eleanor also grew so much as a character and she remains one of my favorite book heroines. I can't forget to mention Oliver! What a fascinating addition to the series. SO happy that there was no cliche love triangle. Bliss!!!!!!!
Profile Image for Kassidy.
338 reviews11k followers
October 22, 2013
What a fabulous sequel!!!

There's a ton of action, mystery, and suspense. I love the historical fiction setting and the supernatural elements of zombies, magic, and necromancy. There's a super creepy feel to this story and you never know who to trust. I loved all of the developments with the magical aspects and the new character that we are introduced to named Oliver! Eleanor has to really fight the war of good and evil in the real world, but also within her self. Her character grows so much! This is a wild ride, and I could not stop reading! It's very fast-paced with new revelations around every corner. The story mostly centers around this one mystery and it was so fun to find all of the clues and figure out what was going on! A WONDERFUL sequel and I cannot wait for the next book :D
Profile Image for Jananie (thisstoryaintover).
290 reviews13.4k followers
August 18, 2021
Devilishly addicting, impossible to put down and no doubt strange and lovely. I went through a whirlwind of emotions throughout this and can't wait to read the next book!
Profile Image for Christina (A Reader of Fictions).
4,230 reviews1,651 followers
July 22, 2013
I have been waiting for A Darkness Strange and Lovely since the moment I finished Something Strange and Deadly Susan Dennard captured my heart and my imagination in her debut, so I was eager to see what she would do with the next book. Happily, there is no second book syndrome here and ADSaL has all the elements that made SSaD such a delight.

Without a doubt, it's the narrative voice that makes Dennard's series stand out from the pack of paranormal offerings. Eleanor is so many things: clever, silly, practical, powerful, self-conscious, and infuriating. Her voice rings so clearly through this first person narrative, and she really doesn't sound like anyone but herself. Even when she's at her most irritating, when she digs herself a whole of lies so deep she can't see out because she's afraid no one will accept her, she's still her kooky, charming self. Also, the girl can eat, and I suspect she's a bit chunkier than the usual YA heroine, which is just another reason to love her.

Dennard really steps out of the box with Eleanor. She's no stereotype. She speaks her mind, eats anything she can get her hands on, and has far more power than her companions. In fact, her power scares everyone but herself. Actually, scratch that; it scares Eleanor a bit too. In the face of the most extraordinary circumstances, Eleanor is the kind of person who never stops trying, even when she only has one hand or everyone has turned their backs on her. Though she makes some really stupid choices, I still have so much respect and friendship in my heart for Eleanor.

The plot this time comes with a bit less zombie mayhem, and a bit more mystery. Eleanor sets off to join the Spirit Hunters in Paris, where a Marquis is hosting them. Paris is beset by les Morts, and the Spirit Hunters have yet to figure out who has been sacrificing people and raising their corpses. Dennard does a good job throwing out a red herring, and making things a little bit twisty without it being overwhelming.

Props, too, on romance remaining on the back burner, slowly simmering, but not to the boil stage yet. Though it's a good one, I think the time to unfold is necessary and will only make the moment when Daniel and Eleanor officially get together that much sweeter. Both of them still have some growing to do, and I like that Dennard gives them that time, rather than rushing them into some super intense forever love.

Dennard adds a couple of new cast members, most notably Laure and Oliver. Eleanor meets both on her passage to France, and I think I like them. They're definitely both interesting figures, and I want to know more about them. Clearly, Laure's going to be important in the third book, but, for now, there was a lot of time spent on her that doesn't seem to have accomplished much. Oliver's pretty awesome, and I like the dynamic he adds to the group, the tension. I am also thrilled that Oliver is not another love interest for Eleanor.

Readers who enjoyed Something Strange and Deadly will likely be pleased with Susan Dennard's sequel. Also, the moment ADSaL concludes, you're going to want book three something fierce, because it is going to be epic.
Profile Image for shady boots.
500 reviews2,036 followers
November 13, 2014
Well, that was interesting. Demons are brought into the mix. And I was iffy at first about the introduction of Oliver, since I thought he was going to be another love interest. But I was pleasantly surprised that he wasn't. In fact, I also liked that Eleanor sorta went all anti-hero in this one.

It wasn't as awesome as the first book but I still enjoyed myself. Let's see if the finale holds up.
Profile Image for Navdha.
574 reviews79 followers
August 10, 2013
I love writing bad reviews. Call me a twisted person, but I really do. When you love a book too much, you don’t have words to describe how full of awesome it is. But when you despise one, you can write a book going on about the character flaws, the plot holes, the wretched romance.. and you get the idea. What makes me sad though is writing reviews for a sequel that fails to charm me; more so when the sequel is to a book that I had really enjoyed.

A Darkness Strange and Lovely can be summarized in these few lines:

Eleanor goes off to Paris to escape Marcus and join the Spirit Hunters, leaving behind her mother who apparently has lost her marbles.

She meets a demon called Oliver, who saves her ass more than a dozen times, but since our Eleanor is an angsty, ungrateful ass, she returns the favor by fizzing the poor guy. With electricity if you’re wondering. And no, he’s not a love interest. Thank the Gods!

She whines and prances around, all while trying to control her new found necromantic powers necromantic is a word? O.o Go me!, which believe me, is cumbersome because, you know, she’s a special snowflake and is one powerful necromancer who can fight off Marcus but is still too naïve to use her powers and too stubborn to embrace it. The same ol’ regurgitated crap..
But that shouldn’t even be your concern here. Ask me why. Ask me! Because..
Marcus doesn’t even make a real appearance in the entire book. Ha!

*shakes head* And there you have another sequel that fails to stand alone on its own.

If you find the lack of a storyline disappointing, I guess I shouldn’t mention how unflattering and downright annoying the characters are?
Oh well. I’ll let you know nonetheless.

Let’s start with Oliver. He’s a smart demon, a witty demon in fact. He is definitely better company than any other character in the book. But he has a habit of nagging Eleanor, and even if I accept that he has a reason to do what he does, I still don’t trust him completely. Then we have Daniel. He only makes an appearance in the book to make Eleanor’s monologue unbearable (and that too with his monocle. BAH!). The only character who didn’t lose character was Joseph. He does his fair share of saving the world and judging Eleanor (both at the same time if you must know) but he seemed like the only character I remembered from the last book. Then of course we have the French characters with their overly used French expressions in English (The book is set in Paris people!). Seriously though, is it too much to ask for an author to simply mention that the foreign characters spoke in a different accent? Why oh why do they have to write in that accent? And why don’t they realize how unrealistic it feels? Please, someone. Stop the trend. Stop it.

*does breathing exercises*

Anyhoo, I was saying?

Yeah, so, as the show stopper for my character highlights, we have Eleanor. She is not the girl I knew in Something Strange and Deadly. The Eleanor I knew there was more feisty and less annoying. Sure, the circumstances were different and now she has to deal with a lot, like a crazy mom, living expenses, rumor mills, sideway glances, murmured gossips, demons, necromancy, infatuation (please, what she has for David is not love), lies, deceit, pressure and all of that with only one hand! I should cut her some slack, and after listing down everything she had to face I do feel sympathetic, but why did she have to be so clueless and snappy and careless? I still don’t understand how she was always suspicious of Oliver and not of her new friend. And don’t even get me started on how she left Elijah’s letters just lying around. If I were Oliver, I’d have thrown her off the balcony. You know what? Scratch that. If I were Oliver, I’d have made her a Les Morts special cuisine for the attitude alone. She was pathetic when it came to David and the only times she did seem like her old self was when she took a stand against Joseph, but even that didn’t seem to leave an impact with her useless pretenses and bitchiness in general.

Alas, the only redeeming quality of the book is the confusion it leaves behind. Its child’s play to guess who the villain is, but the motive behind the villain’s actions is still beyond me. There is some much needed action towards the end and a promising cliffy for the third book to set foot on. However sadly, it isn’t much to go on since there is a lot of uncovered ground with almost all the mysteries of book 1 still buried inside the closet and more piling up from book 2.

In the end, I’d only like to say that writing a bad review for a book you were looking forward to is really sad. So with a heavy heart and a disgruntled sigh, I rate this book only 2 stars.
Profile Image for Alexa.
2,145 reviews11.3k followers
November 21, 2022
FIRST THOUGHTS: This story had me going from extremely good highs to very sad lows, and I loved it. The new twists, the craziness in Paris - it was EXCELLENT. Truly worth 4.75!


When it comes to a series, there's nothing quite like a second book that's as strong as the first. That, my friends, is precisely what A Darkness Strange and Lovely is. Readers will be reunited with Eleanor Fitt and the Spirit-Hunters, but this time in the beautiful city of Paris! There are hijinks and battles, reveals and new characters. And all these things add up to one potent, addictive read!

Eleanor is, surprisingly, my favorite character in this novel (and yes, even more than Daniel!). Her loyalty, pluck, wits and determination still remain her most admirable qualities, as a series of events calls each one into action. But readers are allowed to witness her internal struggle here, as she fully realizes what it means for her to have the same affinity for magic as her brother. She toes the line between dark and light, between innocence and worldliness. Eleanor's realistic struggle to determine the kind of young lady she will choose to be is definitely essential to this story, and also, very well-done.

As for the Spirit-Hunters, I certainly felt like there wasn't as much of them as I would've liked! Jie still remains the fighter, using physical prowess to fend off les mortes. Joseph is still the leader, determined to find a way to disable les mortes without using necromancy. This leads to some interesting tension between him and Eleanor, of which I wasn't the biggest fan... even though I understood why it existed.

And then, there's Daniel Sheridan. If he initially appeared overbearing and difficult in the first book, that actually happened again in this one! He was pompous and incorrigible when we first meet him again, which made me want to roll my eyes and shake him. There's clearly a method to his actions, as always, but while readers remain unaware, his seemingly new persona will grate on nerves. However, revelations arise and suddenly, it is easy to fall in love with Daniel all over again (as if I ever stopped, even when he annoyed me). He's such a complex character, this one. But underneath the abrasive first impression, he's a sweetheart and he proves it all over again.

If there's any character that rivaled Daniel in the level of annoyance he brought on, it's Oliver. Oliver is still a mystery, even though the story includes him for a lot of the plot. He's got his reasons for his actions, most of which remain in the dark. Clearly, we are meant to be distrustful of him, and I am thoroughly suspicious. But Oliver can also be charming! And he's British! And... well, you'll find out for yourself. It'll be interesting to see what happens with him in the next one.

Story-wise, I'd say that this is much more exciting than the first. There are new inventions, new adventures, new places to visit, new people to meet! Unlike before, Eleanor is sucked into more action, now that she knows about this paranormal side of things. She's also started to recognize and embrace her necromancer abilities, which means that she's also an even bigger target for the bad guys. This means there's a whole lot of action and twistiness, and it's so brilliantly done.

As with the previous book, it was blessedly easy for me to guess who the villain was. Thing is, I didn't really care that I could! I was still surprised by the precise motive and actions the villain employed in the end.

Considering the emotional turmoil I experienced, I was clearly invested. And being invested in this series is a good thing, as Dennard has not yet failed to treat us to growing, real characters, exciting story twists and fun, logical developments. A Darkness Strange and Lovely blew me away, honestly. This series just keeps getting better and better, and I'm eagerly anticipating discovering what happens next for the gang in Egypt during the final book!

(originally posted on the blog)
Profile Image for Maddie.
140 reviews27 followers
April 27, 2013
Gosh, this is a beyond amazing book. Full review to come!

Okay, if you haven't figured out by this point that I absolutely adore Susan Dennard's books, you probably should go back and read some of my older posts.

Needless to say, I was absolutely ecstatic to receive an ARC of A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard. I completely devoured this book. Mainly because, it was AMAZING.

It has a slightly different feel than Something Strange and Deadly partially because of the different location (it's set in Paris. Does it get any better than that?), and because the Spirit Hunters aren't in it at the very beginning (I admittedly counted down the pages until they came into the story...). But, that didn't cause me to like the book any less than the other one. In fact, I think I liked it more than the first book, which is pretty impressive. Most times for me, I don't like the sequel to a novel nearly as much as the original (particularly with trilogies) with rare exceptions such as Catching Fire. Yeah, this book was THAT good.

I am in no way exaggerating when I say, at some points reading this book, I was sincerely gasping and generally freaking out along with Eleanor. It had me entranced from the very first line.

I cannot recommend the awesomeness that is A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard enough. I give it 5 out of 5 Stars.

I hope all of you go buy it when it come out on July 23.

Profile Image for Sarah Mac.
1,077 reviews
April 30, 2015
3.5 stars. This was an enjoyable book that showed actual writing talent -- not common enough in YA paranormal/dystopian fic, alas. But it wasn't as good as the first.

Spoilers ahead.

I dislike recapping series plots because they're too reliant on the previous book(s) -- and this one is pretty much what it says in the blurb, so I'll be lazy & head directly to the positives.

-No love triangle. That in itself is worthy of a parade. :P The Eleanor/Daniel romance doesn't progress much, but neither does it go downhill. They're both in love with each other -- that's quite obvious -- and neither see the need to test their feelings by adding a triangle to the plot.

-Expanding on the lack of triangle...I was relieved that the "Oliver thing" is nothing to with romance. Oliver is a demon -- more specifically, he's a demon who was bound to Eleanor's brother Elijah. Oliver & Elijah's relationship is complicated & mysterious. It's not been spelled out, but I'm 99% sure Oliver was in love with Elijah (whether they were lovers remains unclear). In any case, neither Oliver nor Eleanor has any romantic interest in the other. Yay. :)

-The zombie bits were good.

-The scene where Eleanor raises a bunch of dead animals (plus one zombie butler) was great. Very vivid & creepy.

...But there are some negatives.

-The first 200 pages wandered quite a bit. The whole thing with the Hell Hounds was interesting enough, but it seemed unnecessary. Even when it (finally) tied into the climactic battle scene, it still felt smooshed into the plot.

-Eleanor's 'phantom' hand. I was really looking forward to her having to adjust to life & zombie-hunting after the amputation -- few YA heroines face a legit handicap, so it would've made her stand out. But instead she's given a weird phantom-demonic hand courtesy of Oliver's magic. WHY? Eleanor is an untrained necromancer, but surely there would be other ways to obscure her scent from the Hounds. Just giving her a phantom hand struck me as a cop-out. (Supposedly the hand will go away when Oliver is freed, but still.)

-Not enough zombie-killing in the first half. The synopsis is misleading in that respect. There's minimal zombie action until things get cooking in the second half -- and the necromancy stuff just isn't as exciting. I realize that they're tied together, but Eleanor's frustrations & Joseph's warnings aren't nearly as much fun as splattering zombie brains on parasols.

...So. I suspect this suffered from Middle Child Syndrome. It's not a bad book, by any means -- but be prepared for some dragging & necromancer/demon infodumps before Daniel & the zombies make their appearance. Hopefully #3 will deliver a steadier supply of action. (I also hope they'll go to Egypt. *crosses fingers*)
Profile Image for belle ☆ミ (thisbellereadstoo).
1,703 reviews137 followers
January 14, 2022
actual rating: 3.5

eleanor is so different from the strong individual she was in something strange and deadly. in this, she's forever a damsel in distress and waiting for someone to help her. it's maddening, frustrating and really annoying. i wanted her to become a stronger person but i didn't get it.

however, i did love the new setting in whimsical and opulent paris. it’s always fascinating when characters travel out of their hometown. despite eleanor’s confusing character, i enjoyed the fast-paced plot which was addictive and entirely entertaining. i would've liked a darkness strange and lovely if eleanor's character development progressed forward instead of backward.

the relationship between eleanor and daniel didn’t go anywhere. it went one whole round and back to square one.

books in the series:
1. something strange and deadly: ✰✰✰✰
2. a darkness strange and lovely: ✰✰✰½
3. strange and ever after: ✰✰✰✰
Profile Image for Nasty Lady MJ.
1,059 reviews16 followers
August 13, 2013
Really 2.5 stars but there were moments I remember why I was into this book.

To see full review click here.

Imagine your ideal date. Rom Coms are good at showing what this ideal is. Especially Lifetime movies. I'll just give you one that's a combination of various movies: You're feeling funky in your sweatpants and Mickey Mouse t-shirt and your friend texts you and tells you she's set you up with this guy. You don't do blind dates, but there's nothing in the fridge except for a half eaten can of Nutella. And as much as you like the spread, it's not exactly dinner. So you decided to take a shower, put on some Spanxs and your LBD and just go on the date for the free food. Imagine to your surprise when you open the door and John Stamos appears eating Greek yogurt and says you look great while handing you diamonds and chocolate. He then proceeds to take you on his private jet to the Mediterranean coast and you make sweet love to a montage of the latest sappy dappy love song.

Perfect date in the movie world, right?

Well, on the second date you find out your date wasn't actually John Stamos it was Uncle Jesse and if you're going to be around this guy you're going to have to be around his crazy family, an annoying slightly seedy looking dude named Joey, and that he's already married to this lady who lives in the attic and is crazy because...oh, wait different story (sort of). Although, I truly believe Aunt Becky would've gone crazy if she had to raise the twins in that attic apartment for too much longer.

Okay, you might wonder what has caused me to write a bizarre version of Lifetime movie/Full House fan fic. Well, I've been indulging in one too many Nick at Nite reruns of the 80's sitcom and Lifetime movies and well...it's the perfect analogy to the book I'm about to review.

Okay, a Darkness Strange and Lovely the sequel to Something Strange and Deadly to say the least it was disappointing. Not that it was a bad book. But considering that its predecessor was one of my favorite books of 2012. Well this sequel just plain sucked.

If you haven't figured it out already I've deviated from regular format again and I think it's something that will be happening more and more because I'm sort of getting tired of being formulaic though I will try to touch upon all the various points I do in the formula.

The book takes place I think a few months after the first. Eleanor is basically living a life of 19th century poverty which consists of having one dress, no furniture, and carrying everything around in a carpetbag-yes, I know tragic. After getting scared half to death she's off to Paris to find the Spirit-Hunters (and yeah, se only needed an excuse to leave town). Of course things are complicated when she meets her brother's demon and acts like an idiot for the rest of the novel.

Yep, that summary right there describes the gist of this book. I'll be the first to say it's not a bad book, just like I don't think Uncle Jesse by himself is a bad catch. But compared to the alternative...the first book, it's just a disappointment.

The biggest issue I had with this one is Eleanor. Its not that she reverts into some horrible Bella Swan type of character, though she did have some Bella moments. It's just that...that in the first one she was so kick ass without being unrealistic and in this one she is just annoying. She makes horrible decisions, she's selfish, all she cares about is her love life...oh wait, that is Bella Swan. And you know like Bella when she fucks up, its only a little fuck up she's shortly forgiven.

Yeah, I'm crying because I really did like Eleanor in the first one. And I think the change in her character affected her relationship with Daniel. In the first book I felt chemistry, while there still was chemistry here it felt awkward and forced at times. I honestly liked her with Ollie better in a weird way even though he reminded me of that ass, Reth, in Kiersten White's Paranormalcy. And I never found Reth hot.

Really, was Ollie necessary? At least he's not terribly annoying when he and Eleanor aren't interacting. But still...God, I hate characters that are invented solely to cause a rift in the relationship between the protagonist and her man-cessory.


The plot was still decent, I guess. Probably the best thing about this one. Though it was obvious who the villain was in this installment if you weren't TSTL (Eleanor I'm looking at you). I just didn't feel the same zeal as I did with the first one. Despite the fact that this novel took place in France in the late 1800's.

I'll be honest with you, one of the books that I was forced to read in college made me love 19th century France. That book is The American by Henry James. I really felt old world Europe when I read that book. Here...not so much. And yeah, I know comparing this book to The American is like comparing fine wine to beer....but...this book tries to well...tries to hard.

It really freaking does. I felt like Dennard wanted to have the same feel that the James novel gives you. Except no. It just doesn't work. I didn't feel like I was in France when I read this book. Sure a few French phrases were dropped here and there, people ate baguettes, and ostentatious lifestyles were lived...but I still didn't buy it. Like I bought 19th century Philadelphia.

To be honest, the book just felt like a pale copy of its predecessor and while its expected that sophomore books aren't going to be as good as the original I had great hopes for this one.

There wasn't particularly anything inappropriate about this one. Some violence (obviously) since it is a zombie hunting book. But no sexy good times or f-bombing. Which is sort of a shame because I think this book needed something like that.

Overall, this installment isn't horrible but it really sort of failed. Had this been another YA series I might've enjoyed it more. But not here. Overall, I'm giving it a six out of ten zombies. I'll probably read the next one, but its definitely on probation. Just how my relationship with Jesse would be if my proposed movie, Full House From Hell, ever got made by Lifetime.

Profile Image for Heidi.
1,395 reviews153 followers
September 15, 2014
Three and a half stars: A good sequel, but I struggled with the heroine.

Eleanor hurries along the busy streets of Philadelphia, anxious to complete her errands. She rubs the stump of her arm nervously, hoping to erase the phantom pain from her missing hand. It has been months since the Spirit Hunters left after she lost her hand in the zombie attack, and Eleanor is anxious to hear from them. Finally, a letter arrives from Jie. Eleanor's heart beats anxiously hoping for some word from Daniel, but alas......As Eleanor prepares to cross the street, pain assaults her phantom limb. Then to her horror, Eleanor catches a glimpse of yellow eyes peering out at her in the darkness. Marcus, the necromancer who killed her brother has come for her. Eleanor quickly flees to Paris in hopes of finding the Spirit Hunters so they can help her banish Marcus once and for all. Will Eleanor be able to defeat darkness?

What I Liked:
*It has been two year since I first picked up this series, and I am pleased that this sequel was entertaining and interesting, and it that it didn't succumb to many of the sophomore novel stumbles. This book has an engaging story, fascinating characters and hungry zombies.
*Ms. Dennard excels at her settings and world buildings. She quickly moves us from 19th Century Philadelphia and takes us to Paris, the city of lights and Le Mort. Things are not so perfect in the romantic city since the zombies started walking the streets looking for their next victim. I love how well Ms. Dennard presents Paris and this time period.
*Even though I was able to guess early on in the book who the villain was, I was pleased that there were a couple of twists at the end that put things in a whole new light. So even though I thought I knew who was behind the zombie attacks, I was wrong. I liked that Ms. Dennard threw in some surprises and that in doing so, she managed to further connect the two books.
*The romance is still in the early stages. It is moving, and then it isn't. It stumbles and falters due to the stubborn natures and headstrong attitudes of both parties. It is painfully apparent that they both have feelings for one another, but neither is willing to act. I like that the romance is taking its sweet time to build and that it isn't succumbing to any of the ridiculous tropes like love triangles and insta love that we are so tired of in YA.
*Even though I had some issues this time around with Eleanor, I still admire her courage, tenacity and her determination. While most well bred ladies would be swooning at the sight of zombies, Eleanor doesn't back down, she insists on fighting them any way she can, even if that means putting her life in danger. In this book, Eleanor is struggling with her own black magic, and trying to avoid succumbing to the dark arts. I did like her inner struggle, and I am anxious to see how she will make out. So far, I am liking her growth.
*I appreciated that there is plenty of recap to help fill in the memory lapses for those of us who need refreshers. I thought Ms. Dennard did an exceptional job of refreshing our memories.
And The Not So Much:
*My issues with Eleanor stemmed mostly from the fact that I questioned her judgement and her poor decisions. This time around she becomes entangled with Oliver, her deceased brother's demon. I didn't like that she kept things hidden from the spirit hunters and that she was endangering herself and others by her questionable decisions. I missed her brandishing parasols and trying to avoid the stifling societal restraints and expectations of a young lady. She isn't quite as headstrong and rebellious in this one.
Oliver the demon was a conundrum. At first, I wanted to like him. He is a demon brought forth and bound to her brother, but since Elijah's death, Oliver is wandering alone until he attaches to Eleanor. Oliver constantly kept me guessing regarding his intent and his nature. I am still confused as to whether he is good or evil. Right now, I am thinking he is up to no good.
*I desperately missed the Spirit Hunters. They don't show up until the second half of the book, and even then, their parts are scant. Jie is noticeably absent for most of the book, and I found I was missing her fierce prowess and antics. Daniel and Joseph's parts are small as well. I thought that too much time was spent with Oliver, and I would have preferred more of the Spirit Hunters.
*I was a bit disappointed that Eleanor didn't clue in early that something wasn't quite right after she spent time with a certain person. Her memory was always blank and she was missing time. It was painfully obvious to the reader what was going on, so I kept expecting her to figure it out, and if not Eleanor, then the demon, but she doesn't.
*The book ends on a jarring cliffhanger. Not one that will make you want to throw the book against the wall, but there is still a cliffhanger none the less. At least, the villain was unmasked and the lines are laid out for the next book.
Something Strange and Lovely is a good sequel with an entertaining story and exciting developments. Expect a few stutters with Eleanor's character and the romance. Still, it was a fun read, and I am looking forward to the finale.

I borrowed a copy of this book from the library. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.

Posted@Rainy Day Ramblings.

Profile Image for Shelley.
5,157 reviews458 followers
September 8, 2013
*Genre* Steampunk, Historical, Paranormal
*Rating* 3.5-4

*My Thoughts*

A Darkness Strange and Lovely picks up Eleanor Fitt's story from where Something Strange and Deadly left off. Having lost her brother Elijah to the villainous necromancer Marcus Duval, her mother to a mental hospital, and her right hand to a Hungry Dead, Ellie finds herself having no place to run, or to hide from Marcus's machinations. Her friends, the The Spirit Hunters (Joseph, Daniel & Jie), have fled Philadelphia and have landed in Paris where it appears the dead have also risen.

Ellie cons her way aboard a steamer headed towards France where she meets an interesting man named Oliver who has a few secrets of his own including the fact that he's familiar with Ellie's brother Elijah. (I still say there is a lot more to THAT relationship than Dennard has explored, and I wouldn't be surprised that they were more than just friends.) He also makes Ellie understand that she's not the only necromancer in the family and attempts to set her in the right direction, unsuccessfully, which shouldn't surprise anyone when there is blow back and a bit of belligerent behavior on the part of Ellie.

For the record, I didn't much care for Ollie and I sure don’t trust him. I know there is more to him than meets the eyes and obviously he’s now part of the story whether we like it or not. I just don't fully trust his intentions or his actions towards Ellie. On the other hand, dealing with Ellie isn't all that easy once she realizes that she's got a bit of power in her hands and believes that she can defeat Marcus without anyone else's help.

Naturally, once Ellie reunites with the Spirit Hunters, she's once again thrown into a situation where she's combative and under the opinion that she can pretty much do what she wants to do and faces yet another dangerous villain. Ok, maybe I am being a bit drastic in my telling of Ellie's actions, BUT, she did have a tendency of driving me straight for the bottle of Jack Daniels that has been sitting in my cupboard for many years now.

As a side note, I have been to Paris, France and it was an adventure I’ll never forget. Of course, it was a totally different time (1981) and era from when this story is set. I actually appreciated the time and effort Dennard puts into writing about Paris. As a reader, I like it when I can close my eyes, and imagine myself sitting exactly where Ellie and the Spirit Hunters were sitting and when.

I still won’t be deterred by Ellie’s actions and do actually see a bit of character growth in the right direction. She is straight up feisty and has a good heart overall. I like the fact that she faces danger alongside the Spirit Hunters who weren’t all that thrilled to learn about her new powers. She even refuses to allow herself to be controlled by Oliver.

Did you read that kiss? No, I mean, did you READ THAT KISS? ::sigh:: Yeah, so, I can forgive Daniel after that kiss.

Overall, a decent sequel to A Darkness Strange and Lovely and I WILL be looking forward to the sequel coming out sometime in 2014.

Expected publication: July 23rd 2013 by HarperTeen
Profile Image for Sophie.
1,154 reviews437 followers
August 8, 2019
After finishing book 1, Something Strange and Deadly, I was so happy I had copies of the next two books, because I needed to read them ASAP. As you can see, I read this book all in one day, it was that good. Following her brother's death, and her mother's mental break, Miss Eleanor Fitt is seemingly all alone. Even her friends in the Spirit Hunters have left her, heading to Paris, and she is more than determined than ever to find out the truth, and do what she can to stop the evil Necromancer, Marcus. So, Eleanor boards a steamer ship bound for France, and meets the mysterious Oliver, who claims he knew her brother. Oliver seems to have his own dark powers, which are calling to Eleanor's necromancer skills, which both terrify and entice her. When she reaches Paris, she needs to work together with her friends in the Spirit Hunters, and Daniel Sherridan, once more, to stop Marcus from raising the dead in another city.

Eleanor was as amazing a character in this book as she had been in the previous one. She seems even more determined to stop Marcus, what with what happened to her family in the last book, and doesn't like being treated like a burden, or someone who is weak. When her and Daniel meet once again, the sparks are still flying, and Daniel is as brash as he had been. All of the Spirit Hunters seem to want to keep her away from them, and not use her intelligence or skills to help, like they had before. Oliver was a wonderful new introduction, and though it may be assumed he would be a love interest for Eleanor, he isn't, but is someone who is there for her as a friend, which she sorely needs.

Being in Paris, and the world building of the city was a nice change from Philadelphia. We were fully immersed in the city, with it being described perfectly, and it was almost as if you were actually there witnessing events, rather than just reading about them. Everything about Sooz's writing is perfection, and you need to get a start on her books if you haven't already.
Profile Image for Erin Bowman.
Author 17 books1,919 followers
December 3, 2012
This is going to be the vaguest review ever because Susan Dennard’s A DARKNESS STRANGE AND LOVELY doesn’t come out for another eight months still, but I can’t not talk about it. The sequel to SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY, this novel picks up right where the first left off. The Spirit Hunters have fled Philadelphia, and Eleanor Fitt is dealing with the aftermath. When the evil necromancer Marcus reappears, Eleanor heads to Paris via steamer to track down Joseph, Daniel, and Jie. Aboard the ship she befriends Oliver, a mysterious young man harboring secrets regarding black magic, and what Eleanor learns from him complicates things greatly as she reunites with the Spirit Hunters.

I had a hunch while reading book one that Dennard excelled at writing setting (historic Philadelphia seeped off the pages), but now I’m positive of it. I truly felt like I was in Paris while reading this novel. Everything about the bustling city felt realized, and just as in book one, the fashions, speech, and technologies that populated the story were authentic to the late nineteenth century. Setting/world aside, I love these characters. It was so fun to be back with them. The Spirit Hunters are more of celebrity figures in Paris than the rag-tag team Philadelphia perceived them as, and this puts an interesting spin on their dynamic. Tensions between Eleanor and Daniel, who has “cleaned up” given all his time in the spotlight, couldn’t be higher. Jie is as spunky as always. And Oliver! I loved this new addition to the cast and how he fits both into the backstory as well as Eleanor’s present. Full of equal parts action and mystery (with a dash of romance), this sequel was a blast. Can’t wait for the final installment.

Originally posted here.

NOTE: This review is based on an ARC.
Profile Image for Sarah Elizabeth.
4,723 reviews1,278 followers
April 6, 2014
(Source: I own a copy of this book.)
Eleanor has recovered somewhat from her ordeal, but her mother has ended up in a mental hospital. When Eleanor sees Marcus, she’s scared though, and knows she must follow the spirit hunters to Paris to get help.
Can Eleanor find the spirit hunters in time? And should she really be using her innate necromancer powers?

This was a really good second book in the series, and even though it had its slow moments, the ending was awesome!

I liked Eleanor again in this book. She really took the bull by the horns, and continually tried to help, even when she was misguided! That was a real problem for her – knowing who to trust, knowing what was real, knowing who was a bad guy and who was a good guy, and I really couldn’t fault her too much at times, because she really was under really powerful magics.

The storyline in this was pretty good. I will admit that this book had a real slow patch, from the 40% to the 60% marks it was hard to keep reading, but thankfully it really picked up again after that, and the ending was just brilliant!
There were once again several things going on in this book, with both Marcus, and the dead in Paris being big issues, add to that the addition of Oliver (who I’m still unsure about), and the kidnapping of an important person, and the mystery was just wonderful. The tension really ramped up towards the end, and I just couldn’t believe the turns this book made!
The ending when it came was really good! And I was so excited to find out what would happen! I’m really looking forward to reading the final book in the series now! Yay!
Overall; had its slow moments, but also had a nail-biting finish!
8 out of 10.
Profile Image for Alja Katuin.
369 reviews29 followers
November 28, 2015
So in the acknowledgements Susan mentioned how hard it was to keep on writing this book and thus I'd like to let out a great hallelujah. I wish I didn't have to go sleep and could just dive straight back in to part three. I can't wait to read what happens next. Will they find Jie? Will she be alive? Is Ollie really dying? What will they find in Marseille? WHAT THE FUCK DID ALLISON WANT?!

right, with that being said I will get some rest. 9 hours until work starts in the morning and I will have time to read again!
Profile Image for Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews).
1,695 reviews874 followers
September 2, 2017
Whew - Susan Dennard neatly avoids Sequel Syndrome with her second novel. I had a lot of fun with this, from beginning to end. I may review it closer to the release date, but if you were a fan of Something Strange and Deadly, chances are this sequel won't disappoint.

Also: many many thanks to the lovely Flannery for sending me her ARC. She is the best <3
Profile Image for Emma.
1,228 reviews100 followers
January 4, 2022

*Actual rating is a 2.5*

A Darkness Strange and Lovely was a pretty big shift away from Something Strange and Deadly in both surprising and expected ways. The mood was understandably a lot darker after the big events at the end of book 1. The Spirit-Hunters' presence in A Darkness Strange and Lovely was focused more on their role in the big conflict of the series and I found myself really missing the fun interactions between them and Eleanor from book 1.

Many of the characters felt very different as well, which made sense to some extent but would have benefitted from more on-page character development. Joseph's treatment of Eleanor as she tries to make sense of her newly-discovered magic seemed out of character from the kindness we see him show in Something Strange and Deadly. Eleanor's repeated assertions that Jie was her best friend were...a surprise. The two of them didn't seem to interact one-on-one that much in the first book and didn't spend a lot of time together in A Darkness Strange and Lovely either. It would've been great to see more of Eleanor and Jie together growing as friends.

A Darkness Strange and Lovely was pretty engrossing but didn't quite have the magic from book 1.
Profile Image for Sara (A Gingerly Review).
2,685 reviews155 followers
January 8, 2019
I am happy that I am able to finally mark this series off of my list. Well, I'm close to it but 2 out of 3 books is pretty good. I liked this but wasn't in love with it. When will publishers realize that a narrator can absolutely make or break a reader's experience? In the case of this one, the mouth breather narrator broke it for me. I cannot give anything higher than 3 stars because I could hear every single time she took a breath and it was distracting.

Minor bitch? Probably. Enough to cause me to not enjoy as much? You bet.
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