I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard
Series: Something Strange and Deadly #1
Published by HarperTeen on July 24th 2012
Genres: Romance, Steampunk, Zombies
The year is 1876, and 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.
Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she’ll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including their maddeningly stubborn yet handsome inventor, Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.
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.