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Title: Something Strange and Deadly
Author: Susan Dennard
May Contain Spoilers
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 the maddeningly stubborn yet handsome 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 was disappointed with Something Strange and Deadly. Honestly, I don’t know if anything could have lived up to the hype surrounding this title, and since I was waiting with such a sense of anticipation, it fell short for me. The beginning was intriguing – Eleanor is searching for a sign from her brother that he’ll be returning home soon, and poof! A stinky, reanimated corpse gives her a note from Elijah. That’s so much better than using a carrier pigeon! Just wrestle up a corpse when you need to pass a note to somebody! It will terrify the recipient, but who’s going to try to incept your missive?
After it is apparent that Elijah has decided, yet again, to delay his homecoming, Eleanor’s mother decides to use the opportunity to hold a séance, instead of the already planned and paid for welcoming party. She has to marry Eleanor off, if they hope to retain their current lifestyle, since Elijah isn’t doing his job and providing for them. With Elijah a constant no-show, Eleanor’s mother is getting desperate. With her husband dead and her son failing to care for the family, desperate measures are called for.
I loved the séance. It’s creepy, and her mother’s foolishness calls forth a very dangerous spirit. Whoa! Who would have thought that a parlor game would have such frightening results? The evil spirit dogs Eleanor’s footsteps for the entire book, so, yeah, thanks, mom, for messing around with stuff you are obviously not capable of handling.
I am trying to put my finger on why this story didn’t work for me, and I think it was because there is so much going on. And because Eleanor is constantly leaping into danger. There are zombies lurching around the graveyard? Let’s go check them out! There are headless corpses wandering the streets? Let’s go out without a chaperon and see what we can find out. While all of the sneaking around showed that Eleanor was headstrong and wasn’t going to take a backseat to anyone, it also proved that she lacked the one thing necessary for living a long and zombie-death free life. Yup, that common sense stuff. Eleanor needed to display a little more of it. A lot more, actually.
Another thing that drove me batty was how the characters snarled, shrieked, growled, and screamed at each other. All of those noises! Nobody just talked or held a quiet conversation. Nope! That’s just a pet peeve of mine, though, and your mileage may vary.
There is a dreaded love triangle, between handsome, wealthy Clarence and Daniel, a boy from the wrong side of the tracks who is on the run from the law. He’s a gifted inventor, though, and his devices help battle the zombies. I never liked Daniel, which was another impediment to my enjoyment of the book. I didn’t like the way either potential love interest treated Eleanor, but Daniel’s demeanor was particularly grating. Nicknaming her Empress, he was constantly dismissive of her, at least until the very end of the book when she saved his bacon. I don’t know that I would have thrown myself into the midst of a zombie horde to save anybody in this book, other than Jie.
While Something Strange and Deadly failed to impress me, it will appeal to action lovers. If the book hadn’t been so hyped for me, I think I would have enjoyed it more.
Review copy obtained from my local library