Book Review: Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

Posted March 28, 2014 by Stormy in Books / 8 Comments

Something Strange and Deadly

by Susan Dennard

Something Strange and Deadly

Original Publication Date: July 24, 2012
Length: 388 pages
Publisher: Harperteen

Obtained Via: Gifted
Format Read In: Paperback
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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.

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Something Strange and Deadly had been on my radar for awhile, so I was quite happy to receive it as a gift over the holidays. Zombies aren’t normally my thing, but the historical setting and the inclusion of the spirit-hunters made me more inclined to give this one a chance. For a “zombie” book, there’s scarcely any zombie action. If you, like me, don’t actually like zombies that much, that might be a good thing. If you’re a zombie aficionado, though, Something Strange and Deadly might not be the book for you.

I loved the historical setting and the spirit hunters. I liked that the spirit hunter aspect brought the book more to the supernatural, with the addition of a necromancer and spirits and such. It felt like a nice break to have a zombie outburst linked to an artificial, supernatural means rather than a straight zombie apocalypse. I’m a little confused on the designation of Something Strange and Deadly being classified as steampunk–there might be a few elements, but really, the setting is pretty standard Philadelphia 1876 with the addition of a Necromancer and some paranormal elements. The historical details were rich and detailed, but I found myself fuzzy on the finer points of the spirits involved and the Spirit-hunters. Certain things affect the spirits in certain ways, which is fair enough, but I wish there had been more development of this aspect in Something Strange and Deadly.

I did think on the whole Something Strange and Deadly was a fun read, plot-wise. Eleanor is searching for her missing brother, which doesn’t exactly sound fun, and the premise is serious, but somehow Dennard managed to weave these elements together in a way that conveyed the emotions but still kept the book seeming like a fast-paced adventure story. While I saw the plot twist at the end(and all the small twists, really) about a mile away, the way things wrapped up made sense for the book and was highly satisfying, despite the lacking of excitement at the big showdown.

Up until this point, most of what I’ve said about Something Strange and Deadly has been wholly positive. And I enjoyed this book just fine, but I would have enjoyed it much more if I had a better grasp of Eleanor’s character. Wishy-washy is a good term for her. Her actions and thoughts seemed to contradict each other so often–she wanted to do certain things, but just kept messing up in really illogical ways. It wasn’t until about 75% in to the book I decided she was a decent main character, which is saying something. I love when characters grow and develop over the course of the book, but Eleanor’s development in Something Strange and Deadly seemed. . . glacially slow. I just wanted more from her, this awesome main character I heard people talk about. Luckily, what Eleanor lacked in development, the side characters more than made up for it.

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Something Strange and Deadly was mostly fun! I enjoyed it, but I’m not racing to the next book(though I do plan to read it, especially the setting–Paris!–appeals to me a lot more than this one did, and Eleanor’s grown a lot). I had some issues with the predictability of the big reveal and Eleanor’s character, but it was still a pleasant read. 3/5 cupcakes. 

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3 Stars

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8 responses to “Book Review: Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

  1. Stormy

    I’ll look forward to your review of the 2nd book! I feel the same way, I think–I enjoy it, but at least this book wasn’t SUPER great. I did like the chapter sampler I read of the 2nd book.

  2. I’m actually in the middle of the second book right now haha!
    I’m glad you still enjoyed this one. I’m enjoying this series but so far, it’s still not knocking me over.
    I really liked that I enjoyed a zombie book because zombies are so not my thing either!!
    Hope you enjoy book two! I’ll let you know how it goes haha! 🙂

  3. I’ve seen a few mixed reviews on this one, and it doesn’t sound at all like my kind of book, but I love Susan Dennard’s writing tips! I might check it out one day, but I’m not in a big hurry.

    • Stormy

      Her writing tips are awesome! She’s one of my favorite authors to interact with because she’s so good about supporting writers & I love the writing sprints she sometimes holds on twitter. I thought the book was fun and would probably recommend it overall, but for me it was definitely just a “good” read. It was really fun, though, which I find rare for a paranormal novel, so that was a nice break.

  4. I liked Something Strange and Deadly, but not as much as a lot of people seemed to. It was fun, and although, like you, I spotted the twist very early one, I enjoyed it a lot. I can’t remember what I thought of Eleanor as a character, though. She clearly didn’t stay with me, and I’m not really rushing out to read the rest of the series.

    • Stormy

      Yup, that’s pretty much how I feel. I have positive thoughts towards the novel but nothing major. I’ll read the sequel, but in no hurry. I did read the kindle sample for the sequel and was more intrigued already–It seemed like a big improvement, but it’s hard to tell from just a chapter or two.

  5. I’ve been on the look out for this book for quite sometime since I’ve heard some great stuff about it and so many people seem to adore Susan Dennard. I already have a copy now, which I found on sale, and I’m excited to get into it especially since I don’t think I’ve ever read a book quite like this. I’m a little disappointed to hear that the MC’s character development was slow but I hope I’ll get to like her and appreciate the story’s finer details. I’m looking forward to reading about historical Paris though! Great review, Stormy! 😀

    • Stormy

      I hope you enjoy it! I totally get the adoration for Susan Dennard–I love her writing tips, blog, twitter! She’s an author I’d love to meet not because I love her books but because she seems like such a cool person. I think that may have contributed to me being anxious to read this book–I wanted it to be as good as I thought it would be considering the author! And for the most part, it was. Not a new favorite or anything, but pretty solid paranormal fun.

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