Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Something Strange and Deadly

By Susan Dennard


“Curiosity is a strong fire, and once ignited, it is not easily put out.”


It’s 1876, Philadelphia, USA. Eleanor Fitt’s brother has gone missing, and the dead are rising. When one of the dead delivers a letter from her brother, she enlists the assistance of The Spirit-Hunters (Jie, Daniel and Joseph) to help her find him and attempt to put the dead back in their graves.


The first couple of chapters of Something Strange and Deadly felt slightly awkward, as if Susan was finding her feet in the story. Things feel a little disjointed so I felt a little off-put however as the story progresses, Susan really finds her feet and it flows immaculately pulling you in and turning pages for you.


 “Miss Fitt, you know curiosity gets men killed."
I grinned. "Then I daresay it's good I'm a woman.”

I think this is a pretty good quote to use to show how great a protagonist this book has. Eleanor is strong, stubborn, self reliant and witty, often quoting Shakespeare. Eleanor doesn’t spend the book wondering if her dress looks nice or her hair is done properly, like some of her female acquaintances. Her family have fallen on hard times and her brother is missing, so she has other things on her mind. Even when the love interest is introduced, where as in many books the protagonist would worry how they look and be struck but the perfectness of the man, waffling on about his glossy hair and deep eyes, in Something Strange and Deadly, Daniel and Eleanor don’t get on at first, and all she is bothered about is obtaining his help which allows a slow build up of emotions.


The characters in this book are very well rounded and consistent, Daniel in particular. He is an intelligent inventor understanding mechanics with a background as an engineer on a steamship, but his background also has a secret from an old job he was made to do which affects how he does things. His poor status and lack of proper grammar makes him believe he doesn’t deserve Eleanor as she is from a wealthy family.


Susan doesn’t describe in detail, she likes to give the bare basics and allows you to build up an image. Eleanor never gets a full description of herself. Personally, I like full, deep descriptions so I can be there along with the character, seeing things just as the author imagined them.


One problem I did have with the book was the ease with how everyone accepted the dead walking, people didn’t really discuss it or worry unless they heard the bell indicating the dead had gotten free, people still attended the theatre and gossiped over each other evening wear. I’m guessing that the dead have been around long enough that everyone has just gotten used to it and prayed they stayed locked in the cemetery.


Something Strange and Deadly is most definitely on my favourites list despite minor flaws, a deep and interesting plotline with firm characters makes the novel stand out. I highly recommend this read- 4 stars.

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