Miss Riki’s Review:
It’s 1876 in Philadelphia, and the Dead are rising. When a horrific zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor Fitt, she determines that whoever is controlling the gruesome Dead Army has her brother, and she is determined to save him from certain death. While her mother tries to keep up appearances and find Eleanor a suitable husband, Eleanor is hot on the trail of finding out the fate of her brother. Her research lands her in the labs of the Spirit Hunters, where she meets the infuriatingly stubborn and extremely handsome Daniel. Together, they hunt the necromancer in charge of the Dead Army and fight to save the lives of everyone in the city.
I have kind of mixed feelings on this book. For the most part, it is well paced and the drama is high, yet I wanted more from the world building and setting. I love the idea of a steampunk zombie novel, and the book does eventually hit its stride in description of the historical steampunk setting, but it took a little while to get going and I nearly stopped reading before we got there. Denard really excels when she gets into the historical setting a little more and starts developing the steampunk elements of the story.
I did really enjoy Eleanor as the main character. She is feisty and witty and I loved how devoted she was to finding out what happened to her brother. Her mother is an insufferable, meddling pain, and I loved seeing Eleanor ignore her constant pushing to land a husband in favor of sneaking around with Daniel and the Spirit Hunters. The romance between Eleanor and Daniel is also delightful. He is a-typical as far as YA love interests go, and I loved that their attraction builds slowly as they get to know and trust one another.
As for the big twist in the story, I did figure that out fairly quickly, but it was still well written and I enjoyed the unfolding of the story. I found that the book began with a really intense and action-packed beginning, but then slowly meandered through the story with a slow middle. It does pick up towards the end, though, and ends on a solid note, despite leaving things open for the next book in the series.
All in all, Something Strange and Deadly is a clever look at both the steampunk genre as well as the zombie novel. It takes the zombie tale and sets it upon it head with a new and exciting look at the undead. The characters are intriguing and despite a lagging middle, it takes the reader on an exciting adventure.