Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly, # 1)
By: Susan Dennard
Published: July 24th 2012 by HarperTeen
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Zombies, Paranormal
Source: Personal Kindle Library
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Goodreads description--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 first reaction to Something Strange and Deadly was a result of the girl on the cover with the big poofy dress. Apparently bloggers tend to dislike covers with the girl in a fancy dress on them. I’m not really one of them, but I wasn’t sure what would be different about Something Strange and Deadly from other girl-with-poofy-dress-covered books that I’ve read. What I didn’t know was that Something Strange and Deadly has ZOMBIES in it. And it is historical fiction, so the poofy dress is actually appropriate for this cover. But I was still misled. Although Something Strange and Deadly has zombies in it, this is NOT a zombie book. At all.
Something Strange and Deadly had a bit of a slow start for me. Even though there’s a “zombie attack” fairly early on in the book. These zombies have the capability to be the scary zombies that seek out human flesh to satisfy their hunger, but for the most part all of the zombies within Something Strange and Deadly are controlled by a necromancer who has used black magic to raise the dead and bend them to his will and become his army. BORING.
Something Strange and Deadly is one of those books where we’ve got the ordinary leading female character that has a mission that is bigger than herself. Eleanor’s mission is to find and save her brother from the hands of the evil necromancer. When her brother was in school, he was tormented by bullies. Eleanor always kind of felt like it was her responsibility to take care of him. And then Elijah went off to study ancient texts and such, traveling the world. And now he’s unable to come back home due to the necromancer. Eleanor is convinced that she needs to save him and so she sets off to hunt down the Spirit-Hunters that fight against the walking Dead and various other spirits.
The Spirit-Hunters comprise of Joseph, the face of the Spirit-Hunters, Jie, a Chinese immigrant who dresses like a boy, and Daniel, who appears to be the bull-headed inventor that automatically assumes that Eleanor is a pompous, entitled debutante. Joseph, Jie, and Daniel make a good team, but Eleanor is determined to force herself upon them in hopes of finding and releasing her brother. What she finds is a group of friends who don’t care that her family is poor. There’s chemistry between Eleanor and Daniel, but Eleanor really needs to marry for money and Daniel’s background isn’t all blue-skies and rainbows.
The conflict was a bit obvious. Yet I had a few questions about specific characters, namely Clarence, that I just couldn’t nail down for sure as being a good guy or a bad guy. Ironically enough, there is a gray area, and almost all of the characters fall somewhere in between.
-Why is it that no matter how realistic or rehearsed a lie is, it always rings false in the teller’s ears?
-“You have the curiosity of a cat and the common sense of a goldfish.”
-Wounds will heal, grief will pass, but a reputation can never be recovered.
-He slung off his cap and pressed it to his chest. Then, with the casual grace that marked all of his movements, he dropped to one knee and bowed his head. He was declaring fealty to his empress.
I will say that one frustration I had with Something Strange and Deadly was Eleanor’s desire to rid herself of her fancy dresses. She’s described as being soft, curvy, not necessarily fat, but not skinny. And so, sure, being laced up into a corset isn’t pleasant I imagine. And trying to run and fight off zombies in a petticoat and fluffy dress isn’t easy when one can throw on a pair of trousers, but I found myself wondering why even set the book in this time period if Eleanor is going to fight these customs? The very idea of fighting the Dead in this kind of outfit is one of the very things that drew me into the series. It just kind of felt like the wrong direction to go to me. Maybe the rest of the series will make me feel differently.
At this point, I enjoyed Something Strange and Deadly, but it wasn’t at all what I expected it to be—but not in the good kind of way. The pacing was a bit slow, I really only connected with Eleanor (and still had some frustrations with her) and Daniel (who we didn’t get to spend nearly as much time with as I wanted), and I found myself confused as to why this story might have been marketed as historical zombie fiction, when all of the wonderful elements that would comprise weren’t what I imagined them to be. I will proceed with the story as I already have the other two in my possession. Thankfully, a fellow blogger, Rachel @ Paper Cuts, has given me hope that the remaining two books might be better. Something Strange and Deadly gets 3.5 Stars from me. Have you read Something Strange and Deadly? What did you think? Let me know!