Review: Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard


Title:  Something Strange and Deadly

Author:  Susan Dennard

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

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. 

Grade:  C/C-

Review copy obtained from my local library

Interview with Michelle McLean, Author of To Trust a Thief and Giveaway!

Our special guest this morning is Michelle McLean, author of To Trust a Thief! Please give her a warm welcome.  After we chat about her book, you can enter for a chance to win your own copy of To Trust a Thief!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Michelle McLean] Romance and NF writer, mom to 2, degrees in history and English, total sap in love with alphabetizing, office supplies and big poofy dresses

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about To Trust a Thief?

[Michelle McLean] To Trust a Thief is about a young lady who must team up with a master thief in order to find a priceless necklace that both of them desperately need. Along the way, these enemies and rivals fall in love, and they must decide what is more important – loyalty to those who are counting on them, or the love they have for each other. If they make the wrong choice, they might lose everything.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Michelle McLean] It actually started out as something quite different. A tale of a girl healing from a broken heart who falls in love again and they are together from page one. But there was no conflict to the story, nothing really exciting going on. Then one day I was watching National Treasure and thought how fun it might be to incorporate a treasure hunt into the story. With characters who were rivals who I could pit against one another while they fell in love despite themselves. For Min, I wanted a quirky character, someone who was a bit klutzy, but still strong, determined, and intelligent enough to get herself out of her own jams most of the time. Bryant actually started out as a reformed thief trying to make up for his criminal life. But again, there was very little conflict. I needed a tortured bad boy with a heart of gold so he developed into someone much more dangerous and even more swoon-worthy 🙂

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Min?

[Michelle McLean] Intelligent, determined, passionate

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Bryant had a theme song, what would it be?

[Michelle McLean] Oooo, good question. Furious Angels by Rob Dougan. I think of Bryant every time I listen to it 🙂

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Min is never without.

[Michelle McLean] Min always has a book stashed somewhere nearby 🙂

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Bryant’s pockets?

[Michelle McLean] Hmm Bryant likes to travel light so you probably wouldn’t find anything at all in his pockets lol But I’ll say a Bible, any sort of identification, or a love token of any kind.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Min’s greatest regret?

[Michelle McLean] Hmmm well answering that would be a big spoiler so I’ll just say that it has to do with feeling like she failed someone close to her.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Michelle McLean] Victoria Holt is probably my greatest influence. She was the first historical romance author I ever read and I was hooked from the first page. I loved the historical settings, the danger, suspense, and mystery of her stories and above all the romance.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Michelle McLean] Goldfish crackers, the book’s “background noise” (different for every book…for my current WIP it’s the movie What To Expect When You’re Expecting which is odd 😀 For TTAT it was movie scores on Pandora), and a deadline always helps 😀

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Michelle McLean] The Lux series by Jennifer Armentrout. LOVE those books!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Michelle McLean] I began reading very young. My mom said when I was two years old, she was reading Snow White to me and she tried to skip around a bit. I corrected her and told her word for word the lines she had missed 🙂 I honestly don’t remember ever being without a book, but the first one I remember reading was that copy of Snow White. Fairy Tales in general were my first love 🙂

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Michelle McLean] I cross-stitch and play the piano, but mostly if I’m not working on a book, I like to just hang out with my kids. We have a lot of family movie and game nights and my husband is an amazing cook so we like to throw big dinner parties for the neighbors.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Michelle McLean] Come visit me on my blog, website, FB, twitter, Goodreads, the Operation Awesome Blog, Scene 13, and The Naked Hero.

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Thank you!


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Didn’t win? You can purchase To Trust a Thief from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the links below.

About the book:

Minuette Sinclair’s parents are in trouble and her fake fiancé is too. A legendary lost necklace might be their salvation, and Min is determined to find it and use it to buy her family and fiancé out of their misfortunes.

Master thief Bryant Westley is also looking for the fabled necklace. He knows Min’s got information he can use so he poses as her dance instructor and tries to seduce it from her. What he doesn’t count on are his feelings for her. He offers to partner up in the search – even though she is a distraction he can’t afford.

Things become more complicated when Min realizes that her convenient engagement means more to her fake fiancé than her and that she’s fallen in love with Bryant. Bryant realizes that he can’t double cross the young lady he’s come to love. Can they find the necklace together and admit their love before it’s too late?

Praise for TO TRUST A THIEF:

“This book has everything–chills, mystery, romance, and heartbreak. I loved every single page.” –Cole Gibsen, author of KATANA

“Michelle McLean’s debut historical romance is a wonderful read. Filled with romance, mystery, intrigue and characters I could really care about, this is a fun read.” – Christine Fonseca, author of the Lacrimosa trilogy

About Michelle:

Michelle McLean is the author of historical and paranormal novels, including TO TRUST A THIEF (Entangled Scandalous Jan 2013), a historical trilogy, BLOOD BLADE SISTERS (Entangled Scandalous 2013), and a zombie fairy tale retelling WISH UPON A STAR (Entangled Ever After Oct 2013). She is also the author of the educational non-fiction book HOMEWORK HELPERS: ESSAYS AND TERM PAPERS.

Michelle has a B.S. in History, a M.A. in English, and tends to be a bit of an overly organized mess with an insatiable love of books and more weird quirks than you can shake a stick at. She is also a contributor on The Naked Hero, and the Operation Awesome, Scene 13, and Scandalous book blogs as well as maintaining her personal blog.

If she’s not editing, reading or chasing her kids around, she can usually be found in a quiet corner working on her next book. Michelle resides in PA with her husband and two young children, an insanely hyper dog, and two very spoiled cats.

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