Release Date: 07/24/12
Synopsis from goodreads.com: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.
My thoughts on the book:
Something Strange and Deadly is one of those intense novels that kept me on the edge of my seat. I should have started this novel earlier in the day because I refused to put it down before I finished it. This resulted in a lost night's sleep, but it was so worth it! From the first zombie attack, which happened within the first few pages, I was hooked. The characters are well-developed, flawed, likable, and realistic. I couldn't help but sympathize with everyone (other than Eleanor's mother), even the bad guys. The plot is unique and engrossing. I also loved the setting. Most novels that are set in the Victorian Era are set in England and are steampunk. This isn't a steampunk book. There is not one overly advanced piece of technology. There are some strange inventions, but those inventions are still very much within the realm of possibility for the late 19th century. Dennard offers an interesting look into what Victorian Philadelphia would have been like if there had been a zombie invasion.
Eleanor is no simpering miss, and because of this, she does not fit in during her time period. She's aware of this. She's too free-thinking for the Victorian Era. Therefore, she always feels like a misfit, which is a play on her name "Miss Fitt." Eleanor is a strong lead character who is willing to fight for what she believes in. She also isn't afraid to get her hands dirty and can take care of herself. She makes mistakes throughout this novel, but she grows immensely as a character. I can't wait to see what the sequel brings for her.
Another character that I found extremely interesting was Jie. However, I don't want to spoil the surprise with who Jie is, so I'm not going to analyze this character any further. Daniel is also a great leading man. He's tortured (of course) and has done some awful things. However, deep down, he's good, and he's willing to try to make amends. There are a lot of characters in this novel who want to make amends for their mistakes, and there are also some who are unrepentant. That seems to be the defining way to tell who is good and who is not - if they want to make up for the pain they've caused others, or if they want to continue to hurt others. There are no strong messages against class or oppression or anything like that, but I don't think taking a stand against Victorian Era society would be applicable to our contemporary society. Therefore, it would be rather pointless to make any statements to that effect.
The plot is intense, and there is a mystery going on throughout the course of the novel. I figured it out pretty early on, but it wasn't obvious. I just made a guess based and was correct. There are tiny hints, but nothing that gives it away until the big reveal. Also, the plot is an emotional roller coaster. I was laughing at a lot of parts, and I cried at the end. Because of my ability to relate to all of the characters, I was extremely emotionally invested in this novel. Furthermore, the pacing is perfect. The story flew by even though the book is 400 pages long. Nothing felt rushed, though. I know I was white-knuckling my Kindle during the last 20% or so of the book. The intensity of the plot grows as the story continues, which basically forced me to finish this book in one sitting.
Overall, I'd recommend this book to anyone who loves zombie stories, mysteries, books set in the Victorian Era, or supernatural/paranormal books. Something Strange and Deadly has something for everyone, and it is one novel that you don't want to miss!
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