Something Strange and Deadly
by Susan Dennard
Series: Something Strange and Deadly #1
Publication Date: 24 July 2012
HarperTeen, Hardcover, 388 pages
There’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.
Something Strange and Deadly was a rather okay book; my feelings for it ranged from love to content to majorly annoyed. Since it was a mix of everything, I had no idea what better rating to give it then an average one. However, I did, in a way, expect more from this novel. The cover came off pretty steampunk to me (plus it was also one of the genres it was categorized under on Goodreads) yet despite there being some mentions of steampunk-ish machinery, I had hoped for it to be a bigger contributing factor to the plot.
Continuing to the first example of my mixed feelings for this book—Eleanor Fitt, the protagonist. She was a rather confusing character; spanning from brave and smart to dimwitted and useless. I honestly had no idea what to make of her seeing that one minute I found her awesome and the next, completely awful.
I’m not usually one to pick on the little discrepancies in novels but there had been quite a few in Something Strange and Deadly, which ultimately added up to something worth mentioning. One of these small issues was the relationship between certain characters coming off slightly weird, undefined and/or unnatural—especially the one between Clarence and Eleanor. I had absolutely no idea what sort of correspondence they had shared.
The next matter is how another character, Jie, kept saying “yeah?” at the end of her sentences, which got ridiculously annoying. If it had been an attempt to showcase different speech styles of the characters, it did not work. I would liken the situation to how no one would make a character readers are supposed to be fond of say “so, like…” as a way to connect practically every sentence he/she speaks.
The above two paragraphs might sound puzzling to those who have yet to read the book as neither Clarence nor Jie was mentioned in the synopsis. Not to worry though, once you’ve read it, everything would make perfect sense.
Although so far I may seem to have a scary amount of complaints for an average book, do note that those flaws had been rather minor ones. There were only two legit problems I had with this novel. The first being the plot had almost been too predictable (I guessed the rest of the story about one quarter through the book) and the second being the fact the Dead—zombies—were never mentioned to crave human flesh until it actually happened (meaning when one successfully took a bite out of someone).
The explanation for the Dead could have been a lot more detailed. I mean, the zombies didn’t even come off hungry until one finally got some meat in its mouth! I’m sure describing the Dead as ‘ravenous’ and/or letting them be seen ‘chomping their teeth’ (both of which I don’t recall the author including anything of their sort) would have helped a lot in giving readers a clearer image of the Dead. And by the way, being bitten won’t turn one into a Dead too. The zombie theory in Something Strange and Deadly was based on magic and spiritualism rather than a scientific disease.
Now that I’m done listing what I did not like about this book, I can finally move on to what I did like: the romance between Eleanor and Daniel. Give me a moment to swoon. Their relationship had been sweet, adorable and even though a little slow, it was appropriately so. I found myself wanting to shove them together while going, “Just kiss already!” and after all that vigorous shipping, lets just say the ending killed a tiny piece of me.
Unexpectedly gory is my go-to description for the closing of Something Strange and Deadly. Prior to that, I had presumed it would be all happily wrapped up, and on the overly neat side too, albeit temporarily. Shockingly, the ending had not only been violent, but heartbreaking too. It caused some twinges in my heart, especially with all that Eleanor had to suffer during the ending and also after it.
Overall, Something Strange and Deadly was definitely a good book with some teensy issues here and there. I know I listed things I liked to things I disliked 2:5 here but quantity is of no importance in this case. I whole-heartedly encourage anyone interested to try out this novel and I, myself, would also be continuing the trilogy for sure! I can’t wait to find out where the story takes Eleanor and the Spirit-Hunters next (the synopsis of book two sounds utterly incredible and adventurous)! Thank God the whole trilogy is complete, I really wouldn’t have liked to wait.