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Something Strange and Deadly

Something Strange and Deadly

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Something Strange and Deadly

4/5 (68 évaluations)
370 pages
5 heures
Jul 24, 2012


Sixteen-year-old Eleanor Fitt’s brother is missing. And when she discovers that the Dead are rising in Philadelphia and wreaking havoc throughout the city, she knows that her brother is involved.

So Eleanor enlists the help of the Spirit-Hunters. This motley crew, hired to protect the city from supernatural forces, is after the necromancer who has been reanimating corpses. Their skills can save her brother. But as Eleanor spends time with the Spirit-Hunters, and their handsome inventor, Daniel, the situation becomes dire. Now not only is her reputation at risk, but her very life may hang in the balance.

In Something Strange and Deadly, the first book in a trilogy, Susan Dennard weaves together vividly imagined scenes of action, adventure, and gorgeous Victorian fashion to create an entertaining steampunk tapestry of humor, horror, and romance. Readers who love Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices series will be intrigued from the start.

Jul 24, 2012

À propos de l'auteur

Susan Dennard is a writer turned marine biologist turned writer again. The Something Strange and Deadly trilogy is her debut. Among the traits she shares with her heroine Eleanor are a weakness for Shakespeare quotes, a healthy appetite for baked goods, and an insatiable curiosity. Sadly, Susan does not get to wear a corset or wave a parasol on a daily basis.

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Something Strange and Deadly - Susan Dennard



Dead! a woman screamed. It’s the Dead!

My heart shot into my throat, and shocked cries rippled through the station. The woman sounded nearby—as if she was also in line at the telegraph office.

But … this couldn’t be real, could it? The Dead? At the Centennial train depot?

The woman shrieked again, and I saw her, four customers behind me, her face white and eyes huge. A breath later, somber bells rang out, and I knew it was all very, very real. That was the Dead alarm.

I’d heard of corpses awakening—hungry and dangerous though still quite dead. The purpose of bells in coffins was, after all, to warn us; but if the word on the street was true, then in the last week more than a few bodies had escaped their graves.

My heart picked up speed, my veins throbbing in my neck. I did not want to be here when the Dead came. I’d never seen a walking corpse, and I saw no reason to change that.

It’s the Dead! screamed a scruffy boy beside me. His shrill voice was barely audible in the panicked crowds. Get out—come on!

But I couldn’t. Workers and passengers alike pushed and heaved to be the first out of the distant doors.

My breathing turned shallow. I backed up against the wall. The crowd was moving fast, tugging at my skirts and threatening to pull me away like a treacherous riptide.

I glanced around. The abandoned office told me I’d get no telegram today. For that matter, I wasn’t even sure I would escape today.

A woman’s parasol jabbed into my ribs, and my petticoats ripped beneath an old man’s boot. I pushed myself harder to the wall, frantically searching for a gap in the flow of bodies.

A thought flashed in my mind: I can go in the office. It was empty and an easy relief from the panic. I could wait inside for the crowds to thin, and then I could make my own escape.

I took a steeling breath and shoved off the wall, aiming for the office entrance. Once I reached the door, I pushed through and slammed it shut behind me. My muscles shook and I had to lean against the door, but I was safe. I could ride out the storm here.

I scanned the tiny cubicle. Before the clerk’s window was a desk with the telegraph machine and stacks of paper. One of those stacks was labeled NEW—where my brother’s telegram would be if he’d sent one.

He’d been three years abroad, and today was the day he was finally coming home.

Or it was supposed to be, but the blasted boy hadn’t appeared on the New York train. And now my wait in the telegraph line—a wait to find out if he’d sent a message or not—had been interrupted.

By the Dead.

Long moments passed. The screams and pelting footsteps didn’t fade. This could be a long wait, but at least I was protected from the stampede. Though not perhaps from the Dead.

What did the stories say? The Dead hunt endlessly until they’re laid to rest or their bodies are destroyed.

Shivers ran down my spine. Maybe it was best Elijah hadn’t come home—though I did want to know why he hadn’t been on the train. Of course … now that I was here, I could get Elijah’s message myself.

I shot a quick glance through the clerk’s window. The crowds were still packed outside, so I dropped my parasol to the floorboards and grabbed for the papers. After skimming the top message, I moved to the next, and then the next.

But I reached the end, and nothing was for me. When Elijah had missed the train a week ago, he’d instantly telegraphed. But now something was wrong. I could feel it. There should have been a message from him.

I threw the papers back on the desk. Where else can a telegram be?

My eyes caught on a crumpled sheet of paper nearby. I snatched it up, but it was only a newspaper page. The headline read: Walking Dead Still Rise in Laurel Hill Cemetery. I pushed the paper into my pocket to read later. I’d ignored the recent Dead reports, thinking they wouldn’t affect me. Foolish—the Dead were more than just specters to frighten unruly children. The Dead were very real.

And the Dead were here. I tried to swallow, my throat pinched tight. I needed to get out!

The frenzied cries of the crowd’s escape were fading. Now was my chance to run. I stooped down to retrieve my parasol.

That was when I noticed the smell. The stench of carrion.

My hands froze over the parasol. I lifted my gaze with deliberate caution and met the face that now waited outside the window, where only minutes ago I had waited. It was a corpse. One of the Dead.

Time stopped as my mind took in the creature before me. Lidless eyes with creamy, decomposed irises. Half a mouth revealing yellow teeth. The tatters of a brown, wool suit hanging loosely over waxy skin. Brittle, gray hair. And now the corpse lifting his arm.

I shrieked and clambered backward. My feet tangled in my petticoats, and I crashed to the floor in a flurry of skirts.

No, no, no!

Whimpers burst from my mouth as I struggled to stand, but my corset hampered my range of movement and balance. I couldn’t draw in a decent breath.

The corpse’s arm was now fully extended through the window, its rotten fist only inches from my head. It stiffly unfolded its fingers, and a sheet of paper fluttered to the counter. Then, in a slow, convulsive turn and with shambling footsteps, the corpse left.

Seconds passed and still I could not seem to breathe. Why hadn’t it attacked?

I watched the window. Was the corpse coming in the office? Were there more Dead? I listened closely but detected no sounds over the somber tolling of the alarm.

Was the corpse really gone?

The stink lingered, so perhaps it was waiting outside the window. A few flies had hitched a ride on the body, and they buzzed around me. I only gave them a cursory swat. I was trapped in here until—

I heard a loud crack like thunder.

My heart jolted, and my whole body jumped with it. What the devil was that?

Then, suddenly, the alarm stopped. I heard voices from within the depot. Living people.

The danger must have passed; I was all right. But I couldn’t stop the shaking in my hands. My whole body felt like jelly.

It took several minutes for my breathing to settle, for my heart to stop its frenzied pounding. It wasn’t until a full five minutes had passed and silence reigned in the depot that I trusted myself to try standing.

My legs wobbled, and I pushed my chin shakily forward. I didn’t want to approach the counter, but I ached to see what the Dead had left behind. A piece of paper, yes, but what was on it?

I inched closer, seeing it was a letter.

I inched closer again until the words of the letter were clear.

My breath hitched, and I grasped the counter for support.

The paper was for me, and it was from my brother.

When I got home, I went straight upstairs, locked myself in my bedroom, and leaned against the door. The fading, yellow stripes on the wallpaper made my eyes waver, so I stared hard at the floorboards.

I needed simplicity. Calm. And above all, I needed time alone before Mama hounded me. The words from Elijah’s letter rang in my mind over and over again. I had scanned the note a thousand times on the walk home and could recite it from memory now.

I can’t come. Trouble in New York has caught up with me. Don’t tell Mama—it will only worry her. And you shouldn’t worry either. If I do what he needs, I can come home.

And that was all it said, except for Elijah scrawled at the bottom. When I flipped it around, it was just dirt-covered blank.

I threw my parasol beside my oak wardrobe and crossed to the window opposite me, giving my bed a wide berth—its beige sheets beckoned to me with promises of protection and escape. I stoutly avoided looking at Elijah’s picture on my bedside table, and I pressed my forehead against the glass; it fogged with my breath.

This could not be happening. This had to be a joke. Or a mistake. Elijah would show up at any minute, his bony face laughing and his spectacles sliding down his nose.

I fingered the pale scar on my left wrist. A hard-earned reminder of our tree-climbing, game-playing days. Surely, surely this was a prank—like the time he convinced me it was a good idea to dress up as ghosts and scare Mama during tea.

My heart dropped into my stomach, and I twisted around to slide to the floor. This couldn’t be a joke. Elijah couldn’t manipulate a corpse.

The reference to trouble in New York—Elijah had mentioned problems in his earlier letters. He had said people were after his research, but I hadn’t understood what he meant. During his travels across Europe, he was always drifting from one museum to the next, and studying old books and ancient artifacts. But theology had never been a topic of much interest to me.

Oh, why hadn’t I paid better attention? I’d been so excited about his return, I’d completely ignored his trouble. And now it had caught up with him in the form of lidless, putrid eyes.

Despite the press of my corset, I hugged my knees to my chest and rolled my head back to the wall. Elijah was right—I couldn’t tell Mama.

My mother seemed tough, but it was all an act. When Father had died six years ago, the grief had almost killed her. The stress of a missing son—of a son who was likely taken by the Dead—would be too much.

I whimpered and squeezed my eyes shut. I had no idea what to do … no idea why this was happening to Elijah. Other than childhood stories and the occasional newspaper article, I had never paid much attention to the Dead. It had never been my problem before, never been my family affected by a ringing casket-bell and rising corpse.

From my pocket, I yanked the crumpled newspaper and roughly unfolded it.


Today marks one week since the discovery of the corpse of Frederick Weathers, son of City Councilman Thomas Weathers. Frederick, who had disappeared two days before, was discovered at the International Centennial Exhibition as a walking corpse. His murderer is presumed to be the same person responsible for raising the Dead.

Murder? Oh God—I was going to be sick.

Eleanor? Let me in!

I whipped my head up. Mama.

I crushed the newspaper in my fist and shoved it back into my pocket. Let me in! she commanded.

Coming. Coming. I climbed to my feet and scrambled across the room.

Why is this locked? Mama demanded once the door was opened. She didn’t wait for an answer but sailed past me into the room. Well, where is he?

I stared wide-eyed. The truth boiled in my throat. I wanted—needed—to tell her, but I knew better.

So I blinked.

Do not just stand there, Eleanor. I asked you a question. Mama’s figure was all shoulders and angles, with a mass of curling gray hair on top. And right now she stood puffed up like a triangle, tapering to the ground and demanding authority as if she were President Grant himself.

The Dead came, I mumbled.

A crease folded down her forehead. What do you mean, ‘the Dead came’? What is that for an answer? What Dead?

I shrank back, fighting the urge to run past her through the open door. Th-the walking corpses, I stammered. The ones people have been talking about. One came to the train depot, so everyone was evacuated.

What? She threw her hands in the air. But this is cause for alarm, Eleanor! If you were in danger—

No! I lunged at her, my head shaking to keep her calm. No, I’m fine. Elijah wasn’t there anyway.

He … he was not there? Her eyebrows drooped, and she lowered her hands.

No, but he left a message.


At the telegraph office.

I mean, where is the message? Give it to me.

I licked my lips. I don’t have it. I must have dropped it when the Dead alarm rang.

Hmph. She folded her arms over her ample chest. What did the note say? Will he be on the afternoon train?

No. I shook my head as a story unfolded in my mind. Not on the afternoon train. He ran into some friends in New York, so he’s going to stay. For a few days, or perhaps longer.

She groaned and pressed her hands to her forehead. Three years away with nary a letter, and now he changes his plans with no warning at all. We need him here—does he not realize this? You explained that in your last letter, did you not?

Of course, Mama. I had written to Elijah of our financial trouble long before she had nagged me to. In every letter I had begged Elijah to hurry home and resume our dead father’s work. But Elijah never responded to those passages.

And what of our party tonight? Mama insisted. What am I to do?

We could cancel, I said hopefully.

She snorted. Of course we cannot cancel. The walking Dead must have addled your brain, Eleanor. This is our first party in years—our chance to impress the Wilcoxes. The guests have accepted our invitations, and I will not squander this opportunity.

I cringed. Merciful heavens, a party was the last thing I wanted to endure. To make polite chatter and pretend all was well? It seemed impossible.

After Father died, my family stopped receiving invitations to parties. I’d thought it was Mama’s grief that kept our calling card bowl empty. I’d thought it was our year-long mourning that kept us tied to the house. But as I’d gotten older, I’d realized that it was society’s decision to ignore us—not my mother’s—and I could conjure only one reason for this isolation: the raving paranoia my father had suffered from before his death. His babbling cries of enemies, sabotage, and revenge had frightened my family. I could see how it would frighten other families as well.

Consider the expense of our party, Mama continued. She began to pace. "All that money for nothing! We cannot waste such food and preparation. Although … the entire affair was meant for Elijah, which means we must offer our guests some other form of entertainment."

We must? I squeaked.

Yes, yes. She drummed her fingers against her lips. There are too few guests for a ball and too many guests for cards, and literary debates are so dreadfully dull.

She continued her steps, muttering more solutions to herself.

I squeezed my eyes shut and took the moment to calm my nerves. I had to keep this brittle control in front of Mama or else I would blurt out everything.

I have it, she said.

I snapped my eyes open. Mama was stopped midstride with a finger thrust in the air. We shall have a séance. Her face filled with pride.

I was not nearly so pleased with her solution. Why?

Why not? We used to have them all the time.

I swallowed and flicked my eyes around the room.

What is wrong with a séance? Mama pursed her lips and squinted at me.

I-I’m still upset by the Dead at the depot. Contacting the spirits sounds … I trailed off and shrugged.

Ah. She tapped the side of her nose. I see. Well, you needn’t worry. The séances have never worked before, and we won’t have time to hire a medium for tonight. It will be quite casual. Purely entertainment, Eleanor.

All right. She was correct, of course. She’d conducted dozens of séances, but even with a medium, she’d never been able to contact Father. Besides, my chest was starting to ache from my secrets. I needed her to leave before the truth came spilling out. A séance will be perfect then.

Yes, I think so too. She grinned. It is cheap, and everyone loves the drama. People still talk of Mrs. Bradley’s séance. She chuckled.

I tried to laugh with her, but it came out breathy and shrill.

Are you all right, dear? Mama asked. Did the Dead truly disturb you? Did you actually see this walking corpse? She inspected my face, and I had to fight to keep my body still. Why couldn’t she just leave already?

N-no. I didn’t see it. I licked my lips. I’m fine, Mama. It’s just so … it’s so hot.

Yes, and you are sweating. She stepped close to me and sniffed the air. I’ll have Mary draw a bath. You smell like a guttersnipe.

I merely nodded, no longer trusting myself to speak. Fortunately, Mama chose that moment to leave; and in three long strides, she was gone.

I sucked in a shaky breath and collapsed backward onto my bed. My fingers curled around the familiar beige linens.

How could I keep this a secret when I could barely deal with it myself? The Dead had delivered Elijah’s letter. The corpses had my brother!

And before I could stop it, another, much darker thought came. What if Elijah was a walking corpse himself?


The party around me was a smoky dream. None of it felt real. Not the constriction of my bodice or the poke of my hairpins, not the glittering chandelier or the warm gaslights, and least of all, not the chattering guests.

While our elderly butler, Jeremy, and our young maid, Mary, prepared the drawing room for the séance, the guests and I waited in the parlor. I had successfully deflected old Mr. and Mrs. Moore’s attempts at conversation (discussing church sermons was never my favorite subject, particularly when my nerves were screaming for relief); and fortunately, Mr. and Mrs. Cook were wholly occupied by Mrs. Wilcox and my mother.

Meanwhile, the Cooks’ fair-haired daughters, Patience and Mercy—whom I called the Virtue Sisters—were focused on the remaining guests: the beautiful Allison Wilcox and her very rich, very eligible brother, Clarence.

I sat alone on the sofa, avoiding company by feigning a great interest in examining my surroundings.

Mama had drained half our remaining bank account to ensure that our parlor was at the height of All Things Fashionable. The wallpaper had recently been redone; the shelves were littered with peacock feathers, coral shards, and a thousand other knickknacks. The velvet rugs and drapes, recently added for this very occasion, swirled with elaborate patterns.

Mama’s greatest pride was the grand piano. It shone in the light of the gas lamps and told the tale of Fitt taste and wealth. It was no wonder she stood beside it to prattle to the Cooks and Mrs. Wilcox.

By the window, where the dour-faced Moores stood, was the mahogany bookshelf built to house all of Elijah’s theology books. And behind me was the chess table. Our chess table. The one Elijah had gotten so he could teach me to play—and then beat me nearly every day.

My thoughts vanished at the sound of a bubbling laugh.

Through lowered lashes, I peered at Allison Wilcox. She sat in a mauve armchair nearby, and the peach silk of her gown made her pale skin glow and dark hair gleam. In comparison, my own skin looked pasty. Or perhaps Allison’s exceptional beauty came from her obvious joy—she basked in the happy warmth I had envisioned for myself.

Her brother, Clarence, had recently returned to Philadelphia after two years at college, and he lounged elegantly against Allison’s chairback. He was just as handsome as his sister in his perfectly tailored black suit. The Virtue Sisters no doubt agreed with me, for they hovered nearby. Lanky Patience on one side and squat Mercy on the other, giggling at every word he spoke.

At each of Allison’s laughs and smug glances in my direction, I had to bite the inside of my mouth to keep jealous tears away—and to keep from hurling the nearest knickknack at her face. I wanted my brother here; I wanted Elijah safe.

Catching my eye, she bounced up and waltzed over to me.

Where’s your brother? she asked.

He’s in New York, I mumbled. She plunked down on the sofa beside me.

"Yes, I know—your mother already said that. Allison rolled her eyes. But why didn’t he come? I thought this party was for him."

Clarence strolled over and settled beside his sister.

Yes, well … I fidgeted with my lavender dress and avoided the pair’s gaze. I believe he ran into some friends and decided to visit.

Do you know the friends? Clarence asked. He slid out a shiny, golden watch from his waistcoat pocket. After glancing at its face, his eyes flicked to mine.

No, I answered. I do not.

Clarence was undeniably handsome. The delicate curves of youth still clung to the strong angles of his jaw; and when his eyes met mine, I caught my breath. They were so dark it was as if they sucked up all the light.

I’d never met Clarence before this evening. He was twenty and, with the recent death of his father, had inherited the Wilcox business and immense fortune. Mama had mentioned something about political ambitions as well, but I couldn’t recall.

Though I knew the pair expected me to continue the conversation, I kept my mouth clamped shut. Mama would be horrified at my wasted chance to impress Clarence Wilcox, but I didn’t want to talk about Elijah.

Seconds passed in awkward silence. Clarence’s head swiveled about as he studied the room. Allison eyed me, and I fidgeted with my amethyst earrings—a nervous habit I’d acquired ever since Elijah had given them to me on my thirteenth birthday.

At last Allison sighed and scooted closer. So, what’s wrong with you tonight?

I scowled. Nothing.

Humbug! She narrowed her eyes and wagged a finger. You don’t want to talk to me, you’ve avoided the other guests, and you haven’t smiled the entire evening.

Not now, Allison. I gave her what I hoped was a pleading expression, but I could feel the muscles in my jaw twitch with anger. Ever since Mrs. Wilcox had unexpectedly, and rather abruptly, befriended Mama three months ago, I had been forced into Allison’s company far more than I wished.

Allie, Clarence said wearily, leave her alone.

No. Allison straightened in her seat and planted her hands on her hips. Why are you so dour? Be nice to me. It’s not my fault your brother didn’t come home.

That was too far.

Enough, I hissed, grabbing at her. Shut pan, Allison.

She leaned out of my reach, but Clarence laid a gloved hand on her arm. I think you’ve done sufficient harm for one evening, Allie. Go talk to Mother. He tipped his head toward the other side of the room.

To my astonishment and relief, Allison actually obeyed. For a moment, the heavy plumes of depression cleared from my chest. I could breathe.

I can’t believe she listened to you. I turned a wide-eyed gaze on Clarence.

A grin tugged at his lips. "Yes, I imagine I’m the only person she’ll listen to."

Well, I’m impressed. A warmth eased through my body. Despite his perfect features, he was not so difficult to talk to.

No doubt you’d do the same with your brother.

Not precisely. I smiled ruefully. To be honest, I don’t take orders well.

Then I shall be sure I never give you any. He winked before whipping out his pocket watch again and glancing at its face.

I arched my eyebrows, and my grin grew wider. Are you bored? I teased. Or do you have some late-night appointment you can’t miss?

He jerked his head up, and my breath caught. His pupils had grown until there was no iris left.

Neither. Of course. He dropped the watch back into his pocket and slouched leisurely against the sofa. He gave an unruffled smile. So tell me, Miss Fitt, do you know when your brother will return?

No. I wet my lips. Do you know Elijah?

He looked off to the right. "I know of your brother."


Of course. He folded his arms over his chest and returned his gaze to me. "Everyone knows of the Philadelphia Fitts. I even know of you."

You mean Allison told you about me.

His lips twitched. Certainly.

I stroked my amethysts and made my expression passive. I didn’t care one whit about her gossip—though I did wish she wouldn’t talk about me to Clarence. I’d prefer if eligible young men learned my faults after meeting me.

He flashed his eyebrows playfully, as if knowing where my thoughts had gone. You needn’t worry. She’s said nothing unkind. She finds you amusing—she likes to talk, you know?

I hadn’t noticed, I said flatly. Saying Allison loved to gossip was like saying birds enjoyed flying. It was not so much a hobby as a part of her physiology.

Clarence’s smile expanded, and his eyes crinkled. Apparently there was an insult you gave her a few days ago, though.... She had to ask me what it meant.

My face warmed, and I looked away. "I believe I might have called her a spoiled Portia with no concept of mercy."

He laughed and hit his knee. "That’s right. Portia’s speech on mercy in the final act of The Merchant of Venice. Allie had no idea what you meant."

In my defense, she was taunting me—

With no mercy?

Something like that, I mumbled, embarrassed he’d heard about it.

Oh, I have no doubt. One of Allie’s charms is her childish teasing. He laughed again and shook his head. Next time, though, I suggest you use less obscure insults. They might hit their mark better.

I didn’t know if I ought to laugh with him or stammer apologies, but at that precise moment, the subject herself saved me from my confusion. Allison bustled up and glared down at us. What’s so funny? she demanded. Clarence only shrugged, putting his hand in his pocket, and shot me a conspiratorial wink.

Fine, she said. Keep your secrets. I don’t care. She lifted a perfect eyebrow. Scoot over. I want to sit between you.

Take my seat, Allie. Clarence rose and slung a smooth bow. If you’ll excuse me. Then he sauntered away.

Where is he going? Allison asked.

I didn’t answer. My attention was focused on Clarence’s hand, in which gleamed the golden

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68 évaluations / 40 Avis
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  • (4/5)
    Eleanor is a strong 16-year-old who really doesn't fit in during the late 1800's because she is more independent and doesn't want to be a typical high society girl who shouldn't do anything but take care of a household. She is someone who wants to find her brother and help the spirit hunters stop the dead. I like having a dead walking book that isn't hundreds of years in the future. I like how this one incorporates things that I've read about the past like a bell on a grave to warn people if the dead wake up. It's very well written and the author pulls you into the story. I really enjoyed the story and I'm looking forward to reading the entire trilogy.
  • (4/5)
    Originally reviewed here.

    Much as I try to avoid reading reviews, I do generally take a quick glance at friends' reviews. From these, I went into Something Strange and Deadly warned that it might be a bit slow to start, perhaps even taking roughly half the book to get good, and that there wasn't really much zombie mayhem. I'm not sure if it was because I was forearmed or what, but I didn't have a problem with either issue at all. Something Strange and Deadly charmed me immediately, and I thought there was plenty of zombie goodness.

    I can see, however, why some might be bored in the opening, so taking that warning to heart certainly can't hurt you. What made this book a perfect fit (pun!) for me from beginning to end was Eleanor Fitt. I just loved her and thought she made an utterly enchanting heroine. She's one of those heroines that I totally get and that I do not see often enough. She's snarky and doesn't feel at home in the uppercrust society to which she and her mother are just barely clinging. Unlike so many heroines, she doesn't turn all heads. She's not astoundingly gorgeous, she's well-padded, and she's outspoken. When people try to keep secrets from her, she pesters them until she learns what she wants to know. Tenacious, stubborn, nosey heroines just rock my socks.

    Cementing Eleanor Fitt as one of the fictional characters I am sure I would be total besties with is the fact that, despite being a corset-wearing lady, she is no wilting flower. Early on, she gets attacked by zombies and doesn't run or faint: she attempts to defend herself with her corset. She's not very good at it, but she learns by watching the Chinese member of the Spirit Hunters how best to incapacitate the walking dead. She watches, learns, and fights herself. Throughout the book, she continues to use those skills, and becomes increasingly more badass. Seriously, at the end, I defy you to not think she is really fucking badass.

    Now, the zombies. They may not be the central point of the book, but they are definitely woven throughout. They are not the big bads; they are merely tools wielded by an evil necromancer attacking Philadelphia for some unknown reason. Despite being essentially attack dogs, there were plenty enough horrifying zombie moments to satisfy zombie enthusiasts. It was also cool seeing the zombies used in some different ways, like as messengers.

    Eleanor gets involved in all of this necromancy and walking dead business for two reasons: she suspects her brother has been captured by the necromancer for nefarious purposes AND her mother summoned an evil spirit at an otherwise routine high society seance. For help, Eleanor turns to the Spirit Hunters (Who ya gonna call?), here to help the city with their walking dead problem. Despite the prickly reception from the Spirit Hunter's inventor, Daniel, Eleanor will not be rebuffed.

    I loved the Spirit Hunters, and am so completely looking forward to getting to know more about them in the subsequent books. Joseph, for example, I don't feel like I really got to know much of anything about. I could totally know more about Jie and Daniel as well. They're great characters (diverse too!) and have such a great group dynamic.

    The ending, guys! I am seriously in pain at not having the next book in my hands right now and totally want to discuss it with someone. I saw the twists coming, but that did not detract from the my pleasure in the book, because I still didn't know what would happen AFTER that. Eleanor has a fun, witty way of thinking and her perspective keeps things from feeling all that dark even when they are. This juxtaposition totally shook me at the end, in the very best of ways.

    If you like steampunkery, zombie mayhem, spunky heroines, good writing or, well, awesome things, I highly recommend this fantastic debut. This was pretty much everything I hoped it would be and more.
  • (3/5)
    "Something Strange and Deadly" is nothing if not lightweight lit. The premise is intriguing--zombies in the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Expo. mixed with high society, pretty dresses and polite fashions type stuff. It was a very easy read, though--I finished it in six and a half hours. Additionally, I ranked the novel as a two-star story while I was reading it because the plot is so see-through. Any and all "twists" are clearly visible from a hundred miles off.

    The so-called mystery is not the only thing going for "Something Strange and Deadly," though. The writing is good. The cast is more diverse than normally found in a YA book with a blond white girl on the cover, and the cast is also three-dimensional. There were several characters that, to my surprise, I found myself liking very much because of their three-dimensionality.

    Even though I didn't enjoy "Something Strange and Deadly" all the way through, I will in all likelihood pick up the sequel due to the writing and the skill Dennard wove those characters. Additionally, this is Susan Dennard's debut novel. Everything after an author's first novel tends to improve, so I'm hopeful I'll like the sequel even more.
  • (4/5)
    A dark and twisting gothic horror with a captivating mystery, a hint of romance, and a female lead who learns to believe in herself and her abilities.
  • (3/5)
    I enjoyed the mystery of this novel. Trying to figure out who the necromancer was and why what happened to drive Eleanor's father to ruin was intriguing. The mystery was entertaining. However, something was just lacking in this novel. I'm not sure if my problem lies with Eleanor (she wasn't overly interesting) or the worldbuilding. Seeing as I read most of this while on night shift, I'm not sure if my overly tired brain just missed some of the details. I do know that I was very disappointed in the romance. It seemed a little forced to me given the interactions the two shared.
  • (5/5)
    First thing first, I hate zombies. I normally stay as far away from anything zombie related as I can. I watched half of the first episode of The Walking Dead and couldn't stand looking at the zombies and had to quit (although I've read almost all the graphic novels but somehow watching the zombies were just too much). But I'd heard so many good things about this book. The cover is just so darn beautiful and intriguing. Then, I read an interview with Susan Dennard and she was just hilarious and so personable, I knew I had to at least attempt the book. I couldn't put the book down. It is fabulous. Eleanor is a wonderful heroine. She's smart, feisty and caring. Eleanor doesn't rush into something without thinking about it first. She cares about not just her family but other people - even the ones she doesn't particularly like. I would love to have Eleanor as a friend!

    I loved the way Dennard takes her time with elements of the story (like romance). Don't get me wrong, the story is fast paced but she doesn't make Eleanor fall instantly in love or try to tell us too much too fast. She parcels out the information in little pieces and the fits the puzzle pieces together slowly. And the romance is beautiful.

    Hands down one of my top books this year - even with the zombies!
  • (5/5)
    I LOVED this book ~ Period! I am not sure where to start and I give this book 5 stars for so many reasons. I honestly had a hard time with the start of this book, but once I was about 40% in, I could not put it down. I have already bought the sequel and will be starting that IMMEDIATELY! What an amazing book.... you have to get used to the time period, which is what I think made it a little hard to get into but I truly LOVED Eleanor and Daniel's characters.I loved the build up to their romance even though the ending was tough for me.... I mean you have to read it to understand for yourself. It is just awesome.... Zombies and Necromancers in 1800s Philadelphia and at a time when it was unfit for Eleanor Fitt (high society member) to be seen with someone like Daniel.....and it took quite a while for the romance to build but I knew that it would for sure.... there was too much chemistry between Eleanor and Daniel for it not to count for something. I LOVE Daniel and am team Daniel for sure! I cannot wait to read the next book and find out what is going to happen to all of my favorite characters! Thanks to Susan Dennard to finally give me a book to give 5 STARS! It has been a long time coming and now I am hooked! Beautiful writing style and simply put .... amazing characters and an amazingly different storyline that will hook you and keep you there!Here is the synopsis from Goodreads and I will also put an excerpt that I had waited for the entire book.....directly afterwards. Enjoy and READ this lovers of Paranormal, YA, and Romance!Goodreads SynopsisThere's something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia...Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family as fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walkers 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. An now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.And My FAVORITE EXCERPT from the book although the entire piece is awesome!Then his lips touched my skin - only the slightest brush along my cheekbone.My breath caught, and my heart with it. But I didn't pull away. I couldn't. I knew if I moved, if this moment ended, my chest would ache with this hollowness forever.He slowly drew back his hand. I twisted my face to his, and before he could retreat, I reached out and pressed my good hand against his stomach.He sucked in a breath, and I bit back my own gasp. He was the first boy I'd ever touched, and the stiffness of his body through his shirt was unexpected. And wonderful."Eleanor." His voice was so low, I could barley hear it. "Eleanor, we can't do this.""Oh," I breathed, but I didn't move. Nor did he.He was so near.I couldn't keep my gaze from his face. I wanted to memorize the way his lips shuddered with his breath; the way his tongue was just visible when his lips parted; the way his eyes didn't break from my face; and above all, the way his stomach felt beneath the fabric of his clothes.Then his body shook-only the slightest tremor- and he lowered his face.His mouth reached mine, and in an instant I knew what the fascination with lips was all about. Even the gentlest touch-for that was all it was-sent my mind reeling and my heart racing. It was sweeter than I'd ever dreamed possible. His scent and his touch overwhelmed my brain, and I could think of nothing but Daniel.He drew back, and I found I could barely breathe. My chest felt so tight with emotion-so full. His own breaths were short and shallow.Then suddenly his lips were on mine again. And I kissed him back. His hands rose to cradle my head, and he tugged me more tightly into the embrace. He pressed me to the lamppost, his body a shield to the world beyond, and I slipped my hand all the way around his waist.His stubble scratched my chin, but I didn't care.Long hard kisses turned into quick, desperate ones and then back again. This, whatever it was, had flared out of our control. His skin was as salty as it smelled-delicious and intoxicating.Again, if you are a fan of The Infernal Devices.... a love of YA, Paranormal and Romance... read this NOW! Thanks to Susan for an amazingly,fabulous read!
  • (4/5)
    I have to admit that Something Strange and Deadly was a pleasant surprise. I bought this book on my Kindle not expecting too much from it, but it was fabulous! Zombies and strong heroines and parasols and no insta-love? Yes please! Susan Dennard did a great job making Eleanor likable; she was brave, strong-willed, and just curious enough without being a total idiot.

    Something Strange and Deadly takes place in 1876 Philadelphia. The girls are wearing corsets and twirling parasols, the men are wearing top hats and being chivalrous. Enter Eleanor Fitt, a Young Lady of High Society, whose family is running low on money and whose brother is missing. Her mother wants to marry her off to the nearest rich man, but it's driving her crazy. Of course, who would blame her? But then there are also the Dead--zombies, really. They're rising up due to a necromancer, and although they aren't really causing any serious harm to anyone, there's a constant threat lurking that they might attack at any time. So then there are the Spirit-Hunters, a group of three people who find different ways to fight back against the Dead. It's all a very interesting storyline that is part mystery, part horror/supernatural, with a little bit of romance thrown in.

    Unlike some of the people who said they knew who the necromancer was within the first hundred pages or so, I am definitely not you. I was completely off base for a loooooong time, and when the necromancer was finally revealed I was actually very surprised. I don't feel like there were any obvious clues dropped about the real necromancer, and I might be alone on that but I was still pleased with the mystery element.

    I also liked Dennard's take on zombies. They didn't just "pop out of nowhere," they were raised, brought to life, by someone who means to do harm. They are known to the characters in Something Strange and Deadly as "the Dead," and those that are more savage and not under the necromancer's control are known as "the Hungry." The Dead are raised one day and no one really knows why, just that they were raised by a man they call the necromancer. Who is also a faceless person.

    Then there are the Spirit-Hunters. Ahhh, I love them all to pieces. First is Joseph, who is wise and kind and everything gentleman. Then there is Jie, who is a girl who can totally kick ass. And then there's Daniel. /swoon What I like about Daniel is he doesn't instantly want Eleanor; he actually doesn't even really like her. He thinks she's just another spoiled girl who might even be looking to exploit them. There is no insta-love here. Eleanor doesn't like Daniel, Daniel doesn't like Eleanor. And this goes on for quite some time, although it was much to my frustration. I kind of wanted to do that thing you did as a kid with your Barbie and Ken doll and force them to kiss. Just me? Maybe.

    I felt that this book had a lot of potential, and it did very well. I'm happy I stumbled upon it. There's a good chance I'll read the second book in Dennard's Something Strange and Deadly series. The second one takes place in Paris! How exciting.
  • (4/5)

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    Eleanor would do anything for her dear older brother Elijah, including fighting an evil necromancer who is awakening the dead in late-nineteenth century Philadelphia. To help rescue her brother, Eleanor seeks the aid of three Spirit-Hunters: Joseph, a trim and proper looking Creole; Jie, a trouser-wearing China-woman; and Daniel, a frustratingly handsome inventor. While Eleanor sneaks out to battle the dead and uncover the necromancer's power and motivation, Eleanor's mother schedules her for croquet-parties and nights at the opera with Clarence, a rich and handsome bachelor who seems to be hiding secrets of his own. Something Strange and Deadly is a fun, fast-paced, steampunk thriller. The characters of Daniel and Clarence create a nice romantic tension, complicated by the fact that we know neither is completely what he seems. Although some elements hidden from Eleanor are easily seen by the reader, other mysteries unfurl with more difficulty. Dennard gives explanations for everything (which I really like): what motivates the characters (both good and bad), how the dead can be made to walk, why the dead are sometimes hungry and sometimes not, how an amethyst earring can control a spirit, and how standing in water can magnify power. The mix of true and imagined technology, and the wonderful historic details of the Philadelphia setting, including the Centennial Exposition, all give a feel of reality to this obvious fantasy.Although the ending solves all of the mysteries, loose ends are left untied. I predict a sequel in which Eleanor once again must battle the dead, possibly to save the one she loves.

    1 personne a trouvé cela utile

  • (5/5)
  • (5/5)
  • (2/5)
    Terrifically inaccurate. Tries to be steampunk but in that "Throw goggles on it and call it steampunk" kind of way. The world building was inconsistent. And GIRLS FROM THAT TIME WOULD BE WEARING CORSETS THAT ACTUALLY FIT THEM. (Full review eventually)
  • (2/5)
    Unfortunately, for me, this book wasn't as great as I was told it was. When I heard it was a zombie book I was excited for that, but to me this book seemed more like a paranormal mystery. It was ok nonetheless. I just feel like it dragged on at times. And despite having finished the book, I still don't know how I feel about the main character Eleanor. As a character she is ok, for me her redeeming qualities were how curious and unmanageable she is. I know this is only the start of the trilogy, but I'm not too sure how willing I am to read the next one. Perhaps in some spare time.
  • (4/5)
    Oh, how I love me some zombie novels, and this one is even better because it takes place in the early years of the US.

    Eleanor is exactly the sort of person that I think I would have been in that time period. She isn’t the type to sit around and let others tell her what to do. She asks questions, and seeks the truth. She doesn’t show fear when obstacles are put in front of her.

    There’s action and a bit of romance wrapped up in this novel. Eleanor and the spirit hunters are trying to find a way to stop the zombies for good, especially when there are rabid zombies among the group that move faster than thought possible. I love the mix of science and magic. It makes the events seem sort of whimsical even though zombies are scary-ish.

    I’m glad the romance didn’t overpower the plot. There are sublte hints at flirtation, but the story still stands on trying to figure out the zombie problem, and finding Eleanor’s brother.

    I loved everything about this book, and can’t wait to continue this series!
  • (4/5)
    My daughter loves the whole steampunk scene, period clothing and all. So when I read about Something Strange and Deadly, I reserved a copy at my local library. This Steampunk novel, with the period clothing,the corsets, the parasols, the automations; everything is so luxurious and mysterious in equal measure. And undead zombies, a real mystery set in 1876 Philadelphia, where a Necromancer's raising the dead from their graves and beheading members of the most respectful families. I loved the character of Elenor Fitt, who's looking for her brother Elijah,who is being held captive by the same necromancer, and her family is going through a financial crisis. Her mother wants to marry her off to any rich gentleman and rescue the family. What Elenor wants is to find her brother and bring him home. As the spirit hunters came to protect the town from the undead, Elenor has no choice but to seek out their help to find locate and rescue her brother. I enjoyed Susan Dennard's writing style. This unique, fast-paced paranormal, Steampunk story was simply amazing and I was hooked from the start. Elenor,the heroine, is just sixteen years old ,a teenage girl struggling with problems of her own. She's mature beyond her years, naïve, yet a very determined young girl. Her efforts to find her brother lead her to make choices, sometimes questionable ones and to overstep the social boundaries, but she never gives up, even when she's aware of the consequences that will arise. She seems to be the only one who actually cares for her family’s welfare, unlike her mother who is a completely shallow and snobbish Victorian women who only wants to retain her reputation and the Fit name. Then there's Daniel, absolutely arrogant and alluring, the love interest in this book. His initial feelings about Elenor changes as he gets to know her but he'd rather battle a zombie then to show his real feelings for the Empress, as he calls Elenor. I was certainly touched by the Daniel and Elenor's conflicted love story as it develops throughout the book. Susan Dennard has developed many other interesting characters in this book, like Jei, the Chinese spirit hunter girl in disguise of a boy, who comes to be a loyal friend of Elenor and Clarence, a mysterious and charming guilt ridden young gentleman, who likes Elenor and cares for her.The book , though not your usual gruesome zombie novel, includes black magic, and necromancy, romance with lot of emotions and mystery set in. Something Strange and Deadly is an excellent debut for author Susan Dennard, and I look forward to her future books. Jack Murphy
  • (3/5)
    Actual Rating: 2.5/5 stars

    While reading this, I'm eating ice cream. If this book is good enough to get my attention, even a container of ice cream cannot distract me. But, I was pretty distracted. That isn't a good sign.This book was not bad and I also can't tell you that it is great. It's just that this book didn't manage to capture my interest. My heart was never in it while I'm reading this.

    Some comments:

    Eleanor. The MC. I liked her! I liked her stubbornness and wits. In a time where being ladylike and reputation matters, she didn't care how she's acting. She was totally herself and what you see is what you get. I just want to punch her sometimes especially when they're under dangerous situations and all she can think about is how handsome Daniel is and what it will feel like if she'll just kiss him. And in the end, was she kind of gifted? She managed to stop those Dead by using some kind of thing. Ew. Her hands. -_-

    The other characters:

    Jie. Can I just say that saying "yeah" in like every sentence is quite annoying? The sentences feel like they're questions even if they weren't. I don't know if that is normal with them but still.

    Daniel. Uhh. He's pretty hard to figure out. The romance aspect of this story, if there is one, is not believable.

    Clarence. I totally thought that he's evil and kind of insane. Boy was I so wrong. I feel bad for him.

    The zombies. They are not scary or creepy at all! I feel like I could stop them myself if I'm in there. Lol, kidding. No of course they're disgusting and I will never get close to them ever. It's just that if you're looking for zombie books where blood and brains will be everywhere, this is not the book for you. Here, they stopped these Deads by some pulse bomb and that was it.

    The twist. The identity of the freaking necromancer isn't that hard to guess at all. I don't see him as a kind of very evil villain.

    I couldn't care less about these characters. Why is that? I did not grow attached to this book. I'll read the next book in this series of course just to see how this will all played out. I hope the sequel is better than this :)
  • (3/5)
    It was entertaining, but I had some problems with the plot & historical accuracy. And Eleanor. But the premise was so cool & I loved some of the side characters. Full review to come.
  • (4/5)
    Shakespeare quotes, necromancy, steampunk and throwing corsets to the wind... Oh and zombies! What's not to like!
  • (4/5)
    Let's get something out of the way right up front: I do not like zombies. I've never bought into the zombie craze. I don't watch The Walking Dead, nor do I have any desire to do so. I usually DNF zombie books because I just can't handle the gore.

    With that, you might wonder why on earth I ended up buying a copy of this book and rating it quite highly. Well, it's because Susan Dennard's zombies are mostly nothing like their feral cousins. These zombies are being controlled by The Necromancer, who keeps their 'must feed at any cost' drive at a low. These zombies end up being more like smelly messenger boys. There wasn't anything to disgust me and make me feel like I was going to throw up. No blood and guts, thank you very much.

    I liked that this story mixed up historical fiction and some steampunk with a dab of paranormal. It was a really cool combination and it totally worked for me. When I finished, I immediately ordered a copy for myself. It's one of those books that just needed to be on my shelf. I'm looking forward to reading it again at some point to see if I can pick out some of the early clues and see if it makes a difference in my reading experience.

    I'm really looking forward to the sequel. There were some loose ends that I REALLY need to see resolved; mostly the relationship between Eleanor and another character. I couldn't believe the way THAT ended. :O Why?! WHY?!

    Overall, a brilliant read and one that I'll enjoy again. It was a 4.5 Eiffel Tower book.
  • (4/5)
    I am ashamed to say I left this sitting on my shelf for over a year. I always knew I wanted to read it, but I just kept getting slammed with my TBR pile and it kept getting pushed back. And then the second book came out and I knew I messed up. If it took me this long to read the first one, how was I ever going to get to the next in the series?! But then I saw that Epic Reads was reading this for their book club and I knew it was the perfect time for me to get started on it!The reason I let this sit unread on my shelf is I'm not a huge fan of zombies. I'm also not a huge historical fiction fan, so you can see where my doubt lied. I honestly just bought it because I thought the cover was intriguing. After reading this I wanted to hit myself. Both of those things (along with a fast moving plot) made this an amazing debut from Dennard.It honestly was refreshing not to read about things that are so common in the fantasy genre. Well I say that because I don't read that many zombie books OR that many fantasy for that matter lol I loved seeing the imagination that Dennard put into the zombies to make them so frightening. That's what I love abut fantasy. There's no limits. The authors have free reign to make the world and its characters how ever they want. The more descriptive the better.As for the historical fiction part, I got it, but it wasn't totally understood. For example, I KNOW what year it was and why they were treating Eleanor that way, but what about some mentions of how the building looked? Or things that were happening around them? Even things that were happening around the city.I really enjoyed the characters the most though. Eleanor was feisty and reminded me of me a little. I could definitely understand doing anything to help someone I love. Especially family! Even if it meant putting myself in danger. Then there was Daniel. I LOVED him. He was so smart but also had some "bad boy" qualities in him. Totally my style. Then there is Jie. One of my fave secondary characters ever. Smart, strong, and a fighter? What more can you ask for?!Unfortunately, the romance in this one isn't really prevalent, but there is a big reason for it. The entire novel Eleanor and her mother are arguing about who will ask for her hand and why its such a big deal that someone with stature asks her to be his wife. Eleanor on the other hand doesn't care to fall for whom her mother wants her to be with and she is falling for someone else... Someone who says they aren't in love with her. Hopefully they can get that together in book two, because I really want that to happen. Like I'm already shipping them lolIn short, I wasn't expecting to love this book as much as I did. A huge thanks to HarperTeen (Epic Reads) for giving me the "epic" push that I needed into this frightening world of the "walking dead."
  • (3/5)
    I want to say first off that I found this book action-packed and entertaining. I really enjoyed Eleanor, even if she did seem a tad too liberated for 1876. She was fun and feisty and tried her very best to be useful instead of just reporting on what she knew and then waiting for the Big Strong Men to save her. Yes, she probably would have been better off on several occasions if she had let other people handle certain situations, but I admired that she wanted to be helpful and contribute.I also really enjoyed all of the Spirit-Hunters. They were an interesting and assorted group of personalities, each with their own intriguing backstory that wound up being crucial to the plot. It was nice to have such a varied group of characters in a setting as restrictive as 19th century Philadelphia.As a bonus, none of the villains (save one) were actually all bad. Each had some redeeming qualities that allowed me to understand them, and even sympathize to a degree, even if I totally disagreed with their actions. I liked that none of the zombie shenanigans was as simple as evil for evil’s sake.And as far as zombie shenanigans goes, there was plenty. It was exciting and fast-paced, with the requisite amount of grossness that any book dealing with zombies has. It was almost reminiscent of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, in that it blended the nasty violence of zombies together with the refined etiquette and culture of earlier times.So those were all the things I liked. Unfortunately, they were counterbalanced by a lot of things I wasn’t so fond of.The main problem I had in this book was the predictability. By the first chapter, I had figured out the identity of the main villain, and by the fourth, I had also figured out most of the villain’s motivations. It took the entire book to confirm my suspicions, and when it finally did, there weren’t any surprises thrown into the mix. I could pretty much have stopped reading at chapter 4 and still been able to give an accurate synopsis of the entire book. And that was disappointing.Also, in spite of the fact that I was able to figure everything out really early on, I thought that the characters in the book — especially Eleanor — made some decisions based on giant leaps of conjecture that had huge holes in their logic. Eleanor would suddenly remember something from her childhood, apply it loosely to something that happened recently, and firmly decide that not only were the events related, but that they suddenly explained everything. The fact that she was prone to wild conjecture wasn’t the problem. The problem was that her assumptions almost always proved to be correct, whereas in real life, “logic” like hers normally proves faulty. And meanwhile, while she was Sherlock Holmes-ing her way through a convoluted backstory, she was missing tons of painfully obvious clues right in front of her face. Either the girl is remarkably perceptive and intuitive or she’s not. It seemed really odd for her to be both.So while I enjoyed the premise of the story, the characters, and the feel of the storytelling, the execution came off a bit clunky to me. It just didn’t gel as cohesively as I wanted it to, especially since this was, underneath all the zombies and supernatural elements, a mystery. I like mysteries to be tight and smart, and this one felt weak.I still think that fans of zombie stories, especially zombie-historical mashups, will enjoy this book. It’s fun and fast and chock-full of zombie craziness. It just fell flat as the intelligent mystery I wanted it to be.
  • (3/5)
    Something Strange and Deadly is definitely a surprising book. Its setting alone gives it an advantage, since 1846 is such a vivid time period in America. Petticoats, carriages, escorts, servants, and steampunk are just some of the things that you'll find in the book.It's also written spectacularly well. Eleanor's voice is easy to follow and relate to, and you'll love to piece apart the mystery just like she does.I think my favorite part of the book was by far the paranormal bits. The zombie aspect was so well done! It was even explained in a great way. It was so deliciously scary and heart-pounding. They were written so amzingly and it spared no detail!"Time stopped as my mind took in the creature before me. Lidless eyes with creamy, decomposed irises. Half a mouth revealing yellow teeth. The tatters of a brown, wool suit hanging loosely over waxy skin. Brittle, gray hair. And now the corpse lifting his arm."I also loved the romance. It never took precedence over the actual story and it was so cute! I liked how it built up and loved that they only bickered with each other at first."Blazes, he was cocky. And entirely too dashing for his own good- or my own good, rather."The plot itself was nicely structured. While the undead were indeed an important part of the story, there was something else brewing... and it was really good (albeit a bit predictable).My only issue with the book was the pacing. Sometimes it seemed like it dragged or gave you details you really didn't want to read about because you wanted more action.Nevertheless, this is a great start-off to a series; it's highly engrossing and will leave you wanting more once you finish reading.
  • (3/5)
    I picked up Something Strange and Deadly because of the Epic Reads Book Club. I was really into the idea of reading a book with zombies set in the 1870s. However, while I enjoyed the book, I felt there was something missing.The Premise/PlotIn my own words… Something Strange and Deadly‘s plot focuses on a zombie uprising that’s currently threatening the population of Philadelphia. Our lead character, Eleanor Fitt, first encounters these zombies while waiting for her brother to arrive from New York. When he doesn’t arrive, and a zombie hands her a note saying he was delayed, she immediately thinks the worst has happened, and goes to the Spirit-Hunters for help. Her desire to find her brother ends up being directly tied to the Spirit-Hunter’s goals in stopping the undead and finding the Necromancer that controls them. Working together (willingly or unwilling in some cases) they figure out what’s going on and keep the undead from killing all of Philly.Ultimately I found my level of interest in the plot wavering throughout the entire read. There were times where I flew through the text… but other times I found it very easy to put down the book. Granted, obviously I picked it back up and finished it… but that was more because of the characters, not the story.In the end there were a few surprises along the way that kept me going, but I was able to predict a few things leaving some details less surprising than they might be for most readers. However, the way it ultimately ended (which did surprise me–had an interesting twist, lots of fun action, and lots of zombies) left me wanting to go on and read the next book.The CharactersOur main character was Eleanor. I really loved her strong and defiant personality. I loved that she was a strong female character, though I suppose we all have our weaknesses (and characters without flaws are boring). There were definitely times where her strength would cave in, and she’d turn into a mess of sorts. This was mostly evident when it came to her brother, Elijah. She’s very strong in every other aspect of her life, but when it comes to him her blind faith in his goodness makes her overlook a lot of details that may have helped her out a lot along the way. At times her naiveté with her brother bothered me… but it also made her who she was.Elijah was a fascinating character all on his own. I don’t want to go too in-depth because so much of the plot revolves around his disappearance, and I don’t want to blatantly give anything away. I wish I had gotten to read his story, and know more about him, opposed to seeing him just through Eleanor’s eyes. It would have been a very interesting to see how he perceived things, and to see his thought processes regarding certain choices.As for other characters, I enjoyed Daniel. He was abrasive and I loved it. I liked that he challenged Eleanor, and that they didn’t have an insta-love. I like romances that take more than a few pages to exist (attraction, fine, love, not so fine). And, again, he was another character I would have loved to see more of. Similarly, I actually really loved Clarence. I thought that I’d end up disliking Clarence at some point… however I never did, and I’m actually really glad for that.Overall the characters were great. I loved their personalities and what they brought to the table. They’re what drew me in when I felt the plot was lacking.In the end……I enjoyed this novel, though I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for everyone. If someone was looking for a zombie fix, or perhaps a paranormal historical fiction with a dash of steampunk, I’d direct them this way. I think there was a lot of good in Something Strange and Deadly that hopefully created a solid jumping board for the second book in the series (which I plan on picking up).
  • (5/5)
    I'm going to start off by saying that I was not expecting to love this book as much as I do. It's probably something I'd pick up to read, but not one I'd like so much.All of the characters are extremely complex and thought out. They all have complicated (in a good way) backgrounds that leave you wanting to know more. And although the situation is a little less than real, unless you've seen the Dead walking around, the characters feel so tangible and real. You actively cheer them on, you cry with them, you feel their frustrations, and you maybe even hate them. The plot is also riveting and exciting. While there are some slower parts, that's only to be expected, and it gives you a slight break from all the movement. Even if you're not a fan of historical fiction or of zombie books or whatever, this book is so much more than just that. It's also about relationships and society and how we're led to make decisions we would never want to.Another aspect that I loved was that I found the book to be less descriptive and more character and plot driven. I'm the type of reader that hates to be bogged down by description unless it's really important. Susan Dennard does a fantastic job of describing the important things so that you get a sense of the setting without it being overwhelming. I found that many parts also had more telling than showing. Perhaps you don't view this as a good thing (although there's plenty of showing as well, don't worry), but as someone that struggles with the concept of "show not tell," I really enjoyed the bluntness of some of the statements and facts. It didn't take away from the story, and it didn't leave you hung over on what it means so that it would slow you down.I literally only have two criticisms, and they're both pretty small in the grand scheme of things. Firstly, if you didn't know beforehand, it'd be very hard to figure out exact which time period the book is set in. You can tell that it's in the Victorian era by how society is in the book, but it's hard to get an exact date, unless you know about the history of Philadelphia, I suppose. And my other minor criticism is that one of the plot twists (I guess you could call it that) was extremely easy to predict. It made it less of a big deal because you're already expecting it, but the other plot twist was one I didn't see coming (there was some foreshadowing beforehand but).
  • (3/5)
    I’m still a bit puzzled as to why I picked up Something Strange and Deadly in the first place. Lately, the YA genre has been a desolate wasteland for me, and a story promising zombies, a twinkle-eyed love interest, and a parasol swinging heroine should’ve been anathema to me. But I was desperate for something fluffy to read, and this was one of the only titles readily available in my library’s digital collection. After finishing it, I’m pleased I picked it up. It wasn’t life-changing, but Dennard spun a sweet and exciting tale while also avoiding some YA conventions.

    The story is uncomplicated. Nothing ever shocked me as I read and I correctly anticipated most of the plot twists, but strangely, that didn’t affect my enjoyment. I started off annoyed because everything seemed so simplistic. For example, to imbue the book with the 19th century Philadelphian setting, parasols, petticoats, and corsets are mentioned incessantly. And instead of subtly foreshadowing, Dennard basically screams at the reader to pay attention when anything important happens by repeating it several times and having Eleanor, the protagonist, ponder it aloud in her thoughts. The character motivations are also weak, yet the book was so fun I was able to ignore these issues. Something Strange and Deadly ended up being simple rather than simplistic.

    Another way Dennard overcomes her rather unembellished plot is by not shirking from difficult solutions with tough consequences. Superficially, the story suggests that teenage love is easy and a girl with pluck can empower herself effortlessly despite social opposition, yet the ending shows differently. The main characters act nobly yet they do not find unambiguously happy endings. Somehow, Something Strange and Deadly manages to be pleasant and light YA without being sugarcoated.

    While the plot and characters may not have surprised me, my general enjoyment of this novel did surprise me. Perhaps it’s my longstanding weakness for all things World’s Fair—the story takes place during Philadelphia’s Exposition—or perhaps it’s just Dennard’s ability to brilliantly straddle the line between simple and simplistic, but I quite liked Something Strange and Deadly and can’t wait for the sequel. (which I hear is set in Paris—eek!)
  • (4/5)
    “Aim for the knees…”

    In her début YA historical paranormal novel, Something Strange and Deadly, Susan Dennard presents a tale of zombies, Spirit-Hunters, and Philadelphia society from the perspective of 16-year-old Eleanor Fitt. It’s a début with some solid hits, a few misses, but overall a great start to what looks to be a promising series.

    Zombies – a nice switch from the current fad of angels and vampires. I believe this is only my second book involving zombies, but I was impressed. Dennard has created a world where the walking Dead are a fairly common occurrence. From bells on graves to full-blown Dead alarms, this is a Philadelphia that has notice when a corpse awakens. And if the Dead awaken on their own, with no control from outside forces, they are the Hungry. They will eat you alive – literally. While the Dead are central to the story they are used judiciously throughout. They have a strong presence at the beginning and the end, with a few action sequences in between. Yet they are always on the minds of the characters, starting with Eleanor.

    Eleanor was both a hit and a miss for me. I liked her but, much like the zombies, she showed more character at the beginning and end than in the middle. This may be because Dennard was building the character, so she presented a young girl still finding her footing in dealings with her family and society. There were moments when Eleanor showed a great presence of mind and strength of purpose, but then she would turn around and cave to her mother’s or a beau’s wishes. I loved her most when she stood up for herself or swung her parasol (or whatever else was at hand) at the oncoming Dead. As her world started coming apart at the seams in the final chapters, Eleanor became the kick-ass heroine I knew she could be – and look forward to seeing in the sequel next year. In the meantime, she showed her greatest strength in her dealings with the Spirit-Hunters, especially inventor Daniel.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the Spirit-Hunters. Consisting of leader Joseph Boyer (a Cajun trained by the Voodoo Queen of New Orléans herself), inventor Daniel Sheridan (a young man with a past), and Jie Chen (a young Chinese girl trained in the martial arts), the Spirit-Hunters have come to Philadelphia in search of the necromancer who is raising the Dead in droves. Hired to protect the World Exhibition that is residing in the city, they are struggling with a lack of support from the city’s leaders as they attempt to train locals in ways to defeat the Dead. Daniel is the most developed character here, as he is the one with the most interaction with Eleanor. He has little patience with her or society in general; he prefers the machines and gadgets he creates to help destroy the Dead. Powering the greatest of these machines is Joseph, who has learned to harness energy and disperse it at will to cut the ties the Dead have that allow them to walk. Protecting both Daniel and Joseph is Jie, an expert fighter who disguises herself as a boy so as not to attract attention. They are a powerful and interesting group, and I am looking forward to seeing more of them in the future. I am really intrigued by Joseph, especially, and can’t wait to learn more of his back story, along with Jie’s. Daniel’s story is highlighted in this first book, so I feel I got to know him pretty well; he is gruff and sarcastic, but has an undying loyalty to his fellow Hunters. While there is a definite attraction between him and Eleanor, the romance is not developed here – mystery and action are more the focus as Dennard focuses on world-building.

    The other hit – and miss – for me was the villain of the piece. When everything was revealed in the grand finale (and it was a heck of a finale!), the biggest weakness was the motivation behind the villain. The Dead are under the control of the mysterious necromancer, who is having them decapitate the sons of some of Philadelphia’s most powerful families before turning them into walking Dead themselves. As Eleanor starts piecing everything together – even uncovering ties to her father’s demise – she discovers a plot to exact vengeance that fell a little flat for me. I don’t think I would have been as disappointed if there hadn’t been another, more interesting, evil presence in the story. When the second villain took shape, I found myself wishing the focus had been on him since the beginning. It felt a bit like a lost opportunity, since the few times he showed up in this book were very exciting.

    The pacing and flow of the story worked well, and Dennard has a very accessible manner of writing. I was caught up right from the beginning and hated to put the book down when I needed to sleep. Things flagged just a bit whenever Eleanor had to handle her society duties, mainly because I wanted to get back to the Spirit-Hunters, the Dead, and the mystery of why Eleanor’s brother was taken. Additionally, I had a problem with the character of Eleanor’s mother, who annoyed me considerably – as, I believe, she was meant to. I’m not fond of people in real life whose every action is built around “what society thinks,” so coming across one in a book is not my favorite thing. Eleanor’s mother wastes a lot of money they don’t have to impress others, and whenever she appeared on the page I wanted to smack her into the next chapter! The urge to know what was going to happen next kept driving me, however, so I tread as lightly as I could over these passages and was rewarded with a slam-bang finale and a somber epilogue that showed how much Eleanor had grown as the story progressed.

    With an interesting storyline, intriguing main characters, and a heroine who manages to grow into a strong female character, Susan Dennard’s début novel Something Strange and Deadly is an exciting YA historical paranormal. While I wish Eleanor’s strength had been more consistent throughout the story, I thoroughly enjoyed the moments when she swung her parasol at the knees of the Dead to take them down and stood up for herself against Daniel. Dennard has also written a story around creatures that are more often seen on television or the cinema – zombies – which makes a nice change from recent paranormal fads. Even though I wish the villain had a more interesting motivation – or been changed out completely – for anyone who enjoys the YA paranormal genre, Something Strange and Deadly is Something Sure to Please.
  • (3/5)
    Plot: 3 1/2 stars
    Characters: 2 1/2 stars
    Style: 3 stars
    Pace: 4 stars

    On the surface, it's zombies and societal expectations, obligations and expectations. There's lots of action, and a very strong female character. In fact, she's almost too strong. There are times where any normal woman, modern or in petticoats and corsets, would have to feel deeper than Eleanor does. When a character is abnormally emotionally strong in the wrong places, but shows normal reactions in others, it throws me. Add to that the events just sorta happened to her often, there wasn't really a strong sense to me that she was in control. Once she chose to go to the expedition, it was obvious every time, what her choices would be. It just got predictable.
    (I will note, based on discussing this book later with a friend: I went into it expecting camp and cheesiness. This did influence it getting this high a rating.)
  • (3/5)
    This book has been very hyped so I knew I had to eventually read it.Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard stars Eleanor, a once higher class girl, who has fallen in society's ranks because of the ravings of her now dead father. Not only that her brother Eli has gone missing and the Dead are rising from a nearby graveyard. Eleanor meets some unexpected friends who have spent their time trying to put the Dead back to rest and saving others from being attacked. There may be a love interest or two. But who can Eleanor trust?There's actually a lot to like about this book, especially in the last third of the book. There are some great reveals and plot twists that keep things going.My biggest issue is how the world building starts. In the first few pages of the book, we are in Eleanor's head as she tries to get in the mail room to see if there was a telegraph from her missing brother. We get kind of a sense that it's older times, but we don't get a year reference until later on. I also got the sense that we were in the South, but instead we were in Philadelphia. Again, not mentioned until halfway through the book. I found myself floundering to get oriented. Also, I couldn't get myself to like the main character. She whines and acts all prissy, and it takes her over half the book to get over herself. Lastly, I thought the "Dead" were zombies, but they didn't act like zombies and I guess aren't really zombies, so that also took some time to get worked out.Overall, the last half is much stronger than the first half, but I haven't decided if I'm going to pick up the next entry. Dennard definitely has some good ideas though, so I just may.
  • (5/5)
    I have been dying to read this book for a long time now, so I obviously HAD to have it the first day on the shelves (or not on the shelves and having employees fetch it from the back if your bookstore is like mine). What I expected SS&D to be was totally not what I got. I got so much more. If it was this hard waiting for SS&D, I can't imagine how long it's going to feel waiting for the next one! I have to admit it: Dennard led me on a merry little ruse. I literally groaned when I read a single sentence not 100 pages in and realized exactly where she was taking it, and it was the perfect sleight of hand. I was far too focused on waiting for what I expected to happen (view spoiler) to notice the little clues about the true ending, though I appease myself in the knowledge that I did catch one of the biggest ones. Details, Details, Details!! I adored the writing. It was magical. Her style is so smooth and brings everything instantly to life: characters, buildings, even a simple wagon cart! If you want to immerse yourself in that world, it's entirely possible to see everything, hear everything, (weirdly) smell everything! It totally brings all your senses alive! It was absolutely fascinating, and I loved every second! I am honestly in love with all the characters. Sure, you've got the main ones like Eleanor and the Spirit-Hunters, but then there's the ones like Allison (who would probably literally jump off the walls if she had even a sip of coffee!) and Mary and Peger and Eleanor's Mother. You don't like them all since a story has to have some antagonists, but they are so interesting and so...ALIVE that you develop emotional attachments to each one no matter if their role is tiny! THE DEAD!! The Dead are cool (and scary). They are the foundations of the plot after all, but the Dead aren't just zombies. Spirits are included too. And maybe even those reanimated animals, though that's an assumption. The Dead play a pivotal role. Do our protagonists fight zombies around every corner like Resident Evil? No. Are they attacking other random people in the book? A little, not much. Do they affect the mindset of the characters (at least ones with common sense) and the reader? Absolutely! The idea of the Dead really permeates every fiber of your being. They don't have to be staring into the eyes of a character to have the feeling of imminent death. The Dead abound in physical form and in spirit all throughout the book, but if you want all fast zombies that want to chomp your face off, SS&D is not it. SS&D is such a great mystery. Even though I had correct assumptions about a lot that happens (and maybe you won't be a stickler for catching tiny details like me, because they were extremely tiny details), it still grips you tight and doesn't let go until everything goes down. Just because you know what's going to happen doesn't always mean you know how it's going to be done, and I am so completely happy (and sad and angry and a whole slew of emotions) at the end of this book. Everything was just perfect...absolutely perfect.
  • (5/5)
    Susan Dennard's Something Strange and Deadly has catapulted itself onto my 2012 list of favorites. With a hint of romance, creepy zombies, voodoo, steampunk inventions, and unique, memorable characters, how could you not fall in love with this book?One of the most defining aspects of Something Strange and Deadly was the main characters. Eleanor herself is full of spunk and sass, but then we add the three spirit-hunters to the mix and things really start getting interesting. They introduce Eleanor to whole world she wasn't aware existed and it's obvious that she'll never be the same again. The setting, 1876 Philadelphia, was perfect. Eleanor's adventures occur during the Centennial Exhibition - an exciting time in it's own right, but downright craziness with zombies flash mobbing the exhibits unexpectedly. I never felt that there was a dull moment in this book... Eleanor and the Spirit-Hunters were either fighting off zombies or trying to figure out why the zombies were attacking in the first place. There wasn't much time to take tea and relax, they had a city to save.There is a touch of romance within Something Strange and Deadly's pages as well. It definitely isn't the focal point, but I found myself focusing on it... Daniel and Eleanor are both incredibly stubborn and come from entirely different worlds, so there conversation is never boring and always entertaining. I look forward to seeing if Dennard develops there relationship into something more than friends with possibility of more... I'd be interested in seeing how they handle the more.This first installment ended on an interesting note, so I'm a bit anxious to get my hands on book two. Eleanor quickly became one of my favorite heroines and I will faithfully follow her into her next adventure... and I wouldn't mind seeing all the Spirit-Hunters again either!