Something Strange and Deadly-- Susan Dennard

Release Date: July 24th, 2013
Genre: Horror
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 388
Rating: +1/2
Amazon Link*: Click here
Goodreads Page: Click here
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.
Review: I'll admit, I'm a little zombie-crazed right now. I watch the Walking Dead, run using an app called "Zombies! Run!" and obsessively read zombie-related literature. That being said, Something Strange and Deadly was a zombie book that didn't quite fit into the zombie pop-culture genre and I'm still not sure how I feel about it.

I think the main thing I wanted to point out is that the zombies were...normal? The book clearly takes place in a parallel universe where things are, for the most part, relatively the same. The only difference is that every now and again a corpse reanimates in a cemetery and no one bats an eye. Bells placed by graves (they used to do this in our world to avoid burying people alive- a 'deceased' person would ring the bell if they woke up in a coffin (which sounds absolutely horrific if you ask me)) alert the people in Eleanor's world that a corpse has woken up. The catch here is that beyond this occasional and normal reanimation, the zombie infestation that plagues the characters was not the result of some mysterious plague or disease. They were brought back to life by a necromancer, which definitely does not feature zombie pop-culture today.

Beyond the zombie commentary, I found the characters to be likable and interesting for the most part, but poorly written for the other part. I didn't feel like I knew any of the characters. This is completely random, so forgive me, but if the end of the book had revealed that every single character was a schizophrenic creation straight out of Eleanor's mind, I wouldn't have been surprised in the slightest, despite the fact that mental illness had no bearing in the story and such a revelation would have been akin to a "and then she woke up" type of ending. They just seemed like props to the story. Eleanor was a strong main character and the others were incredibly weak in comparison. The stark contrast here hampered the story.

As for the story itself, it was interesting enough. It was a weird mix of science and black magic, which was vaguely off-putting (I tend to like books that stay solidly in one camp or the other) but I still managed to finish the book and enjoy it just fine, even though it took me much longer to read. I've discovered that the rate at which I finish a book correlates quite strongly with how good it is. If it's good, I'll finish it within the day. If it's average, like this book, I'll finish it randomly over the course of a week. This was a book that took me about a week to read. The pace of the story was frenetic in some spots and slow and repetitive in others which meant that I would read through the fast spots and put it down during the slow spots. I like it when books have a steady, building crescendo. Also, you can completely predict where the plot is going (at least who the necromancer is) by the end of the second page.

Overall, it was a little better than average, but nothing superb.

All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2013
*I am an amazon affiliate. If you purchase this book using my link, I will get a tiny fraction of the purchase, which goes toward contests.

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