Monday, June 11, 2012

Review: Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly #1)
Author: Susan Dennard
Release date: July 24th 2012
Publisher: HarperTeen
Hardcover, 388 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository

Ever since her father passed away, Eleanor Fitt’s life hasn’t been the same. Her brother Elijah is away in college, the money is seriously lacking, and her mother is obsessed with regaining their place in society. When her brother fails to arrive home for the second time and a walking corpse brings his vague note instead, Eleanor becomes convinced that Elijah is a victim of some necromancer and starts moving heaven and earth to find him. With no one else to turn to, she goes to the Shadow Hunters, a pretty odd group of people who travel from town to town, fighting the spirits and the undead.

Something Strange and Deadly is a lovely, well-written and fast-paced adventure, but the worldbuidling leaves a lot to be desired. There is no background, there is no context, you get thrown into a sink-or-swim situation and you must either take it in stride or give up entirely. Two different types of dead are walking: the slow ones and the fast, hungry ones; there are evil and powerful spirits about; the Shadow Hunters, employed by the city, have a way of fighting the undead; Eleanor is in the middle of it all right from the start, and yet, we are given no explanation whatsoever. Why is it normal, almost accepted, for the slow corpses to walk, but not the fast ones? Why are séances the most popular entertainment of high society? Who raises both types of the dead?

The pacing was so fast, it reminded me of a rollercoaster ride at times. I never really got a chance to catch my breath. This worked doubly to Dennard’s advantage: for one, the story was so easy to get into, and besides, even when I knew I should be irritated by one of Miss Fitt’s especially rash conclusions, I just didn’t have time to think about it too hard.
To give credit where credit is due, though, Dennard did surprise me a couple of times and that doesn’t happen often these days. Her story had quite a few unexpected twists and turns and was rather original in some ways.

Oddly enough, romance was my favorite part, and I’m usually not a romance-is-my-favorite-part kind of girl. It was entertaining and subtle, not relevant to the story and certainly not in the spotlight. I liked Daniel a lot, he brought so much humor into every scene and his constant teasing of Eleanor, even in most dire of situations, made me laugh out loud several times. Her bristling and reluctant respect were also quite amusing.
He was grinning wide. The rascal was teasing me! And before I could summon a worthy retort, he whistled brightly and sauntered ahead of me. Blazes, he was cocky. And entirely too dashing for his own good – or for my own good, rather.
(I think the word rascal describes Daniel pretty well.)

Do I think this book has something new to offer, despite the faulty worldbuilding? Yes! Will I be reading the sequel? Yes, yes, yes. Susan Dennard knows how to keep her readers interested without resorting to a vicious cliffhanger that would make them feel cheated. I just wish she would write a bit faster.


  1. Great review, Maja!!! The cover is just SO breathtaking! And I hate it when I have to wait really long for the sequel or something to come out, so I totally get you. Can't WAIT to read this!! And SO happy to hear that the romance is awesome! But I'm sorry to hear that you found it to be a bit too fast. :( Great review!!! <3

  2. WHOOPSIE DAISY! Forgot to leave my link!! *blushes*
    The Teen Book Guru

  3. Lovely review Maja! It's a real shame about the world building- or lack thereof. I'm finding that's a huge problem with a lot of the books I pick up lately. Still, I'm glad it was worth the read! I'll have to check it out. :D

    (I see you're reading Perception! Can't wait to see what you think of it. I loved Clarity.)

  4. Great review Maja. I was hoping this book would be my kind of read but world building is very important for me. Its still good to know that you arent gonna stop reading this series because of that flaws. thanks for sharing girl. x

  5. I have this on my to-read list and I'm excited to start it. It's too bad that the world-building leaves much to be desired though. It seems like it would have received a higher rating from you had the world-building been more complex.
    Regardless, I'm glad you had some positive stuff to mention as well. Daniel seems like an utterly likable character. I can't wait to meet him. :)
    I also love the idea that there are plenty of unexpected twists ! :D
    I'm glad that overall, you enjoyed did enjoy this book and you are impatiently awaiting the next installment !
    Lovely review as usual, Maja ! :D

  6. Ha! I just finished this so it's fitting to see your review is up. :D

    I completely agree with you that the world-building could do with further explanations, but I really enjoyed this book regardless. More than I thought I would, actually. And being a romance-is-my-favourite-part kind of girl, the romance was my favourite part too. Wasn't Daniel an entertaining character? ;)

    1. Oh, yes, he was my favorite. But also the rich blonde, i can't remember her name now, it's been a while since I finished this and I barely keep up with the MCs these days.

  7. Nice review! I might just read it for the "ride" :) Sometimes it's fun just to hold on tight and I'm intrigued that YOU actually got surprised by some twists and turns. And you liked the romance? Nothing wrong with a 3 review in my book!!

    Thanks for the review!!!

  8. Wonderful review Maja! I love how you liked the romance aspect of this book, I was actually considering skipping this book, but seeing as you had fun with it despite some of the faulty world-building definitely makes me want to give it a try! :)

  9. Haha, oh...this sounds like something I probably wouldn't like. But I love your review of it! And you've just given me a bit of inspiration for a post we're writing this week so thanks lady! That little bit of dialogue that you quoted is very cute though.

  10. I love that you highlight both the positives and the negatives in this review - giving me both angles and leaving it open to my own interpretation. It sounds like it's something I'd enjoy, and I hope the romance becomes my favourite part, too!

    Great review :)

    I'm your newest follower!

  11. Awesome review! That's to bad about the world building, by the summery it seemed like it would have had a lot. I like fast paced book though and the romance sounds fun so maybe I'll give this one a try. I just went through the Sally Lockheart Mysteries and they kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time yet I had so many problems with But if they keep you interested they're worth the read =D

  12. I really like your thoughtful review for Something Strange and Deadly Maja! This sounds like a fantastic book despite the small about of world building. I also enjoy subtle romance in books. :)

  13. I had added this book to my to-reads but I'm not so sure anymore. I'm really not a fan of zombies at all and I'm just not in the mood for the walking dead right now. The romance between Eleanor and Daniel sounds great so maybe I'll keep it on my to-reads for when I'm more forgiving towards books with zombies. Thanks for giving an honest review but I'm just not sure this is a book for me.


  14. Welcome back lovely...I hope you are feeling better. I think we sre book soul sisters. I am not the romance is my fav part type girl either...and you know I bitch and moan about faulty world building. I am so glad that overall this was a fast paced and enjoyable read. I have it on the blog at the end of July for a tour post and I was just conversing with Susan yesterday, she is really sweet. Thank god there is no cliffhanger and love triangle!

  15. oh GREAT review! I've been wondering about this book and if it'll be one for me--I'll definitely be trying it, though, because Daniel sounds wonderful, if not rascally! hee.

    Ashelynn @ gypsy book reviews.

  16. Maja, as you know, I'm all about the romance so I'm glad you liked it so well!! I have this one too and your brilliant review just made me more excited to read it! I love fast paced stories. :)

  17. Ooh, this sounds like a great book. Maybe the author will add to the world building in the second book. I love fast paced books because there's this addicting quality to them that makes you feel like you can't put it down. I'm glad the romance is so great! I'm actually a huge romantic at heart, but it's sort of a secret. ;P I like to play the bitter one.

    Great review, Maja!

  18. I honestly wasn't going to end up reading this book (because the reactions are mixed and it doesn't scream "Mimi must read!" to me), but even though it wasn't perfect, your review has ABSOLUTELY convinced me! :) I recently read a book that was a little too fast like this one, so I completely understand what you're saying. Sometimes you need to slow down and take a breather or the world-building isn't going to have enough time to poke through! x)

    Absolutely amazing review, Maja! Hahaha I love the word rascal -- and I love that the romance is your favourite part! Can't wait for this one now! :) <3

  19. Hm, I didn't expect a really positive review for this book after reading quite a few negative ones, but I'm glad you liked it, Maja! :D I'm sorry to hear that the world building left much to be desired, since world building is usually a really interesting part when it comes to a paranormal book like this one, but I'm so interested in the romance now! Thanks for the fabulous review, Maja! :)

  20. Glad to hear you liked the book! I really want to read this one because it sounds so unique and now that I know that you enjoyed the romance makes me want to pick it up so much more desperately! I adore books with fast pacing so I think this book might be a good one for me! Great review :-) You have totally convinced me!!!!!!

    Following your blog!

  21. Ohh, this book sounds pretty good! It kind of sucks that the world building was lacking, but it seems like you enjoyed the rest of the book. Which is good... The romance sounds like it's great, so I might have to read it when it's released! Thanks for the great review.

  22. Lovely review! I'm excited to read this one. It's not fun when an author essentially forgoes all world-building--I mean, though we don't want an info dump, we do need SOME background--but it sounds enchanting and unique, and I like fun, readable books. :D

  23. Hmmm...based on your review, I think this one might be worth a go for me. Like you, the romance is rarely my favorite part of books, so your comment about this book regarding that aspect definitely makes me interested.

  24. The only hesitation I have with this book are the zombies. I'm not a Team Zombie girl. I've tried liking them but I can't get over the grossed out parts. So, I'm going to put this on my maybe pile and look forward to your review on the second book before I make any quick decisions. Thanks for a thorough review!

  25. Zombies! Yay!

    I mean, or not. They sound kind of odd. The slow ones we know, the others? And what about Shadow Hunters? Aren't those too familiar, hmm?

    Anyway, the cover is pretty in spite of the cliché so I think I'm seriously going to consider adding this one to my pile. Thanks for sharing!

  26. Although this one doesn't receive 4/5 stars from you, I'm glad that you enjoyed this book, Maja! This one sounds like a lovely read, though I don't usually read books about zombie. If you like the romance, then this book is obviously worth a try! :)

    Amazing review as ALWAYS! <3 Anyway, Maja, I hope you and your child feels better now! So glad to have you back lovely! :)

  27. Oooh, glad to hear such good things about this one. I was leaning on the side of no, as Victorian + zombies has often spelled MASSIVE FAILURE, but I'm certainly interested. I'm usually a stickler for world building, but as you said, sometimes if the story is fast enough, I'm willing to let some things go and just enjoy the ride.

  28. I usually am a romance-is-my-favorite-part kind of girl, so the one you've described here has instantly intrigued me. Also devilish rascals happen to be other favorites of mine! LOL

    Sorry to hear the world building wasn't very well executed, but I think the fast pace would have appealed to me because I've been having such a hard time staying interested in long winded stories lately.


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