Friday, November 16, 2012

Something Strange and Deadly

Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

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.
-Plot summary borrowed from Goodreads

Well, that pretty much sums it up. There's a lot to like here- steampunky devices, an increasingly plucky heroine, shuffling corpses, and some pretty Baritsu-tastic fight scenes (short of a cricket bat, a parasol might be my new favorite zombie weapon). There's also a lot of talk about electricity, especially in terms of battling the undead, which makes me long for a book with Tesla traveling the world fighting eldritch forces of supernatural dread.

The writing reminded me a bit of the fan-fiction flavor shared by another YA steampunk book: The Girl in the Steel Corset. However, where that was a bit of let-down, I enjoyed this one much more, and I liked it more as I got further into it. Speaking of readalikes, if you enjoyed Masque of the Red Death (the Bethany Griffin YA book, not the Poe novella) you would probably also enjoy Something Strange.

It's not a zombie book either- I've seen some reviews where readers were disappointed on that score. It's more alternate history with necromancy, voodoo and some new concepts for good measure. For those who enjoy well-researched period pieces with a twist, this is a great series opener.


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