Title: Something Strange and Deadly
Author: Susan Dennard
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication date: July 24th 2012
My rating: 3.5 stars
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.
Sixteen year-old Eleanor Fitt lives in a time of corsets and petticoats. A time where a lady's behavior is governed by strict rules of decorum. A time when Eleanor's mother is dead set on her finding and marrying a rich man to rescue their family from impeding financial ruin. But this is also a time of the Dead. The Dead are reanimated corpses plaguing the city, and Eleanor is afraid her brother, Elijah, has been captured by the one commanding them, the necromancer. The day Elijah is supposed to return home to Eleanor and her mother, a letter is delivered to her by one the Dead. Elijah explains that as long as he helps a mysterious "him," he should be able to come home. This is very little to go on so Eleanor seeks the help of the Spirit-Hunters. They're group hired by the city to control and get rid of the corpses that walk and terrorize the living. Soon Eleanor is tied up with this small band, looking for and stopping the necromancer, the one she fears is holding her brother. Instead of putting all her efforts into securing the most eligible bachelor, Clarence Wilcox, she's running all over the city uncovering clues and helping devise plots to destroy the necromancer. Whether she's interested or not, however, Clarence seems to be connected to recent murders, and Eleanor has no choice but to get close to him, to find out what secrets he hides.
This story was full of sass, action and gore. Sass on the part of spunky heroine Eleanor and Daniel, one of the brilliant but flippant Spirit-Hunters. Their interactions reminded me of Han Solo and Princess Leia, especially when Daniel would call Eleanor "Empress." I cracked up at this:
*He wagged a warning finger. "Don't think I'll look after you, though--the world would be better off with one less princess." "I'm not a princess," I huffed, beating my brain for some worthy retort.
"A queen then?"
"No! That's not what I meant--"
"Oh, an empress. I see. Pardon me, Your Majesty." He swooped into a crouched bow, and when his torso sprang back up, a smile floated at the edge of his lips.
I liked Eleanor's pluck and courage, and connected with her character right away. However, I had a hard time feeling Eleanor's distress at her missing brother, Elijah. Their relationship is touched on so briefly and superficially, that I had a hard time caring that he was missing or in danger. While I had fun overall reading this, I must say that this story sort of dragged for me until I reached the half-way point. It wasn't until then, that the story exploded into non-stop action, and my heart was pounding as I read the pages. Also, at this point the romance finally started to come together, and turned out to be very sweet. However, the ending sort of made my mouth drop, and I hope we have some further development in this area in the next book. So while it took a bit to really get going, I thought it was very promising start to this series. I'll definitely pick up the sequel.
*Quote taken from uncorrected proof and may differ from the final copy.