Double Review: Something Strange and Deadly & A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard

September 1, 2014 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 3 stars, 5 stars, Books, Reviews

Double Review: Something Strange and Deadly & A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan DennardSomething Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard
Series: Something Strange and Deadly #1
Published by HarperCollins on July 24, 2012
Source: Borrowed
Genres: Action & Adventure, Fantasy & Magic, Fiction, Historical, Mystery, Paranormal Romance, Young Adult
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There's something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia...

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family as fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walkers 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 the maddeningly stubborn yet handsome Daniel, the situation becomes dire. An now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.

“I-I saw them.” I shuffled closer and pointed to the iron bars. “Through the fence.” He sighed. “Can’t say I’m surprised you were here. You have the curiosity of a cat and the common sense of a goldfish.”

I’m a sucker for zombie reads. I love them, oh-so-dearly, but then again, I always have bad luck with them. Name me a zombie YA novel, and I’ll either say (a) I haven’t read it yet, or (b) I read it and hated it/DNF-ed it.

Of course, if you’re like me, then you won’t stop looking for that perfect read from the genre that you usually hate. I’m weird like that. #WeirdAndProud So that’s when Something Strange and Deadly came around. Susan Dennard, you have officially saved the genre of zombies from tearing me apart and infesting me alive. 

Historical and zombies? Count me in. In books like these, we usually see something dystopian or even contemporary, like The Walking Dead. Here, we go back way into the past, into the 1800’s, where The Dead are feared of as hell. I mean, who wouldn’t be peeing their pants when they see a strange undead creature rising from their coffins and going off and biting people’s arms off? Eleanor Fitt, the kick-ass protagonist, has a lot more to worry about than just her own personal safety during this outbreak of crazy. Her brother has gone missing, and her family is falling apart—well, her mother is. Her dad is dead, and it’s just her and her wealthy mother left, who wants to ship Eleanor off to some rich guy to get married.

So you’d expect something predictable to happen: maybe Eleanor and the rich guy will end up going off to find her brother in Philadelphia? Nope. Instead, Eleanor’s smart enough to stay where she is. She goes off to research about her brother and where the shenanigans he could be. Then she meets the creeptastic kick-ass Spirit-Hunters, who’s jobs are exactly what their name tells you. They’re like the Ghostbusters… instead they fight all sorts of creatures, including zombies. But they take care of everything.

From there, Eleanor goes on this amazing adventure that sent chills over my spine. Zombie crazy attacks, action scenes all over the place, and forbidden romance. What’s not to like?

This book was everything I wanted in a zombie-paranormal read, well just about. Susan Dennard really is a talented author who gives you the best undead-experience. It’s all researched out, and you will feel like you’re living in Eleanor’s world. The concept is gorgeous, and believable. I was in a 4D movie (you know, like the one with Shrek?) the whole time through.

Eleanor was flawless. That girl is everything you want in your perfect protagonist. She’s kick-ass, fearless, and confident. You learn to have a relationship and friendship that will stay for the whole book, and the sequels to come. (Hopefully…)

The only disappointment (minor, don’t worry) was the love interest, who’s name I won’t mention because it’s probably a spoiler. He wasn’t…. Everything I’d hoped for. He liked her, she liked him… But he didn’t do anything about it. Adding to that—it wasn’t insta-love, either. It could’ve been perfect, but then he ruined it all for me and Eleanor. But for that, let me share a cute scene:

“Did I hurt your feelings? Well, you shouldn’t take it personally, Mr. Sheridan. No one cares about my opinion.” ___’s frown vanished, and the angles of his jaw eased into a gentle sadness. “Maybe I care.”

I had to blank that name out so you lovelies won’t get mad at me for spoiling. 🙂 Tee hee.


By the end, I was in love with this new warm fuzzy of greatness. The ending was ferocious and stunning, and I was addicted to receive the sequel. Eleanor’s voice is real and believable, and the plot was racing and thrilling. What else can you possibly ask for in a creepy novel like this?

Rating: 4.5 out of 5



13624584A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard
Published by HarperTeen on July 23, 2013
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Fantasy, Young Adult, Action & Adventure, Fiction, Historical, Mystery
Source: Borrowed
Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository 

Darkness has come to the City of Light…

With her brother dead and her mother on the verge of insanity, Eleanor Fitt is utterly alone. Even the Spirit-Hunters—Joseph, Jie, and the handsome Daniel—have fled to Paris. So when Eleanor begins to hear the vicious barking of hounds and see images of haunting yellow eyes, she fears the worst—that the Dead, and the necromancer Marcus, are coming for her.

To escape and search out the Spirit-Hunters, Eleanor boards a steamer bound for France. There she meets Oliver, a young man who claims to have known her brother. Though friendly, Oliver entices Eleanor with necromancy and black magic, yet as long as she can resist his powerful temptation, she’ll be fine. But when she arrives in Paris, she finds that the Dead have taken over the city…and there’s a whole new evil lurking. With the body count rising, Eleanor is forced to make a deadly decision that will go against everything the Spirit-Hunters stand for.

In Paris, there’s a price for this darkness strange and lovely…and it may have Eleanor paying with her life.

In this spellbinding sequel to Something Strange and Deadly, Susan Dennard delivers a thrilling mix of intrigue, romance, and revenge, all set against the wonderfully enchanting backdrop of nineteenth-century Paris.

“I floated on air. Giddy. Positively brimming with joy and perfection. My gown was beautiful, and I was beautiful—more beautiful than I had ever been in my entire life. The bloodred color of the fabric made my skin glow and my cheeks bright. My hair was coiled and curled, and roses were tucked in at the back.”

Sequels are always a new beginning, in a way. The previous book may have ended with a huge petrifying cliffhanger, but that’s not going to really going to affect the next book’s start. The main events have occurred, and now through the sequel and finale (if it’s a trilogy), we’re slowly getting to an end, with more action and sexiness. A Darkness Strange and Lovely sadly didn’t go amazing as planned, or even close to the potential and amazingness that the first and previous novel went to.

As the book began and the story unfolded, I was in love. It’s been a week since I’ve read Something Strange and Deadly, and we were left off with a huge tearing cliffhanger. Here, Eleanor is left alone. Her mother’s mentality is going out of control since the news about Eleanor’s brother, Elijah came around, and her mom is denying everything. She’s currently in an asylum, and Eleanor’s depressing herself because her only friends, the Spirit-Hunters, are off in Paris. She soon finds out that she isn’t able to stand her loneliness anymore, so she steals a ticket and flees to Paris in a ship. There, she meets a handsome man named Oliver, but he has yellow eyes. She finds out that he’s a demon, but the good kind. Elijah surprisingly was his master, and through blood, he is somehow bound to Eleanor. Then, with new friends, she arrives to Paris, and she finds that The Dead have invaded Paris as well…

Susan Dennard has really increased the pacing and action in this book…. At least she tried to.

The first quarter of the book was thrilling and enjoyable. The whole steamer scene and moments beforehand interested me, but then afterwards, I was lost. I just don’t know what went wrong. Was it the different atmosphere? Philadelphia to Paris was a big change for the characters, especially the Spirit-Hunters, and I guess that influenced my reading experience as well.

From there on, the plot twisted around. It went up and down. For a burst of chapters, everything went smoothly, and then it got boring again and I didn’t feel like I was connecting to the side characters and setting as well. Was it cliche? Nope, not really, but I just didn’t feel like I was interested. It was like Jie, Joseph and Daniel were calling me to love this book. And then I was like:

Because I want to fall in love with the book by myself. I’m a big girl now, characters! Take baby steps to try to intrigue me. 😀

As the story deepened to its other phase, the romance slightly got even more scandalous but it went up and down at times. You could tell that Eleanor (my favourite character forever and always) was having trouble dealing with her feelings and emotions and needed someone to hold her. Hopefully by the end it will be ___? Someone who will treat her good since she’s done so much to help others. 🙂



I don’t think that I’d ever DNF a book by Susan Dennard. Her writing is lush and precious, but this book went slightly more downhill than I would’ve liked. I wanted something new and better, but we just got a little more different recap of the previous novel to take our time. I’m hoping that the finale will give me the feels and happiness that I’m literally bracing myself for!

Rating: 2.5 out of 5


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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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44 responses to “Double Review: Something Strange and Deadly & A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard

  1. Well lets see have you read the Forest of Hands and Teeth trilogy by Carrie Ryan? I enjoyed those (I read them back when I first started my zombie phase years ago) and since then I've burnt myself out on zombie books so I know what you mean. I haven't felt like reading them again lately but I know I want to read this series.

    I really enjoyed Warm Bodies until kind of up til the end that ending threw me a smidge but I still enjoyed it overall and I liked the movie too because of the comedy spin that was put on it.

    This I need to definitely put to the top of my read list the next time I'm feeling like zombies. Who knows when that'll be though – least the trilogy is done tho right!
    Tabitha (Not Yet Rea recently posted…Fan Art Up! (22) – Random Yarn paintings – little fox girl & a sad dragonMy Profile

  2. Hi Charlotte! It's fine, really. I guess I freaked out a little, and my worrying about high school got into it. Don't worry about it. I hope that everything is fine with you, and I also apologize for steaming out. Thanks for your honesty, and let's just forget about this! I'll try to be clearer with who's review is who's, I guess. 🙂

  3. And yes, she was the perfect protagonist in not the first, but BOTH BOOKS! That really made me happy. 🙂 Who doesn't love a burning attraction? And I'm surprised, this woman is besties with Sarah J. Maas, master and creator of steamy romance and two hot guys! xD Thank you so much, Kelly! <3

  4. Three years? That's mega must-read worthy, Romi! xD You should really go for this and ignore the fact that I disliked the sequel, haha! Thank you, and ENJOY this bundle of awesomeness!

  5. I KNOW, RIGHT?! *eyes the covers again for the hundredth time* They're what captivated me, adding to the fact that they're repeatedly raved about! That's what's happening a lot now, Alana, but I'm hoping and crossing my fingers that the finale will be amazing! Thank you! <3 Gifs in reviews are what keep me sane and make reviews interesting to write! xD

  6. Hmm… It still makes me sad to this day! But you should go for the first book and see how you'll like that. 🙂 Middle book syndrome? Totally. But I guess it's alright. I'm going for the finale no matter what! Susan Dennard better please me with that one!

  7. Oh no, I saw your glowing review of the first book and you had me convinced to go pick this up. Then I got to the second. I hate when sequels disappoint, and I am now not sure if this is a series that I really want to be starting. I can't decide. Although I do want to find a great zombie YA read. I'm torn.

  8. I love a good zombie YA too Michelle and have had book one on my Kindle what seems like forever. You had me at perfect protagonist, I love a kick ass chick who knows how to get the job done. Sounds like the romance let it down a little though. I like a slow burning attraction, but when NOTHING is going on, it slows down the rest of the storyline. Sounds like book two might have succumb to middle book syndrome a little, but I'm still really excited to read book one now. Awesome reviews Michelle <3
    Kelly recently posted…Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl by Melissa KeilMy Profile

  9. Oh darn, my comment didn't work! How frustrating.

    I had had this on my tbr for about three years, I'd say, since before it was released to a while after, and I took it off eventually (probably because it had been on there for so long!) and kind of mostly forgot about it, but whilst I think the disappointment of the second book sounds really frustrating, your love for the first book, how wonderfully surprising it was, that sounds totally worthwhile, so I'm going to mark it to read once more, Michelle, and then see where that takes me. I mean, I may as well give it a go!

    Excellent review! x

  10. Alright, so I had been wanting to read this for a long time, back when it was about to come out, and then for some reason or other (possibly because it had been on my goodreads tbr for three years) I ended up choosing to take it off, and I forgot about the novel, mostly. I'm thinking I will re-add it now, though, because your enthusiasm and enjoyment of it, though not so much of the sequel, makes me think it might work for me, and I might as well try!

    Excellent review, Michelle!

  11. Oh my goodness! The covers for both of these books are SO pretty! I think i'd consider reading the books just for the covers! But your review makes me want to read it ten times more! Sad that you didn't like the second one though 🙁 i'm always so disappointed when the sequel is not as good as the first one.. especially when the first one is SO GOOD! Lovely review! And LOVE the use of the gifs.. so appropriate! If i could talk using gifs in real life I would!
    Alana recently posted…ARC Review: Cherry Bomb by Jenny ValentishMy Profile

  12. Oh my. From a great start to an awful sequel? This worries me. Haha. I'm so bad at continuing series books, and I just hate it when the sequels disappoint. I will read the first book though. I'm a great series starter. Haha! I actually have Something Strange and Deadly on my Kindle so hopefully I'll get to that soon. I'm not much of a zombie fan, but I've been more open to them after seasons of The Walking Dead. 😛
    Francine Soleil recently posted…Simply Sunday (#8)My Profile

  13. Great reviews. I'm really hesitant about reading these novels because I'm neither a fan of zombies or historical novels. I feel like I'm just disappointed by every one that I read. However, like you, I at least need to find ONE book in that genre that I enjoy. And besides, I can't resist giving these books a chance some time — the covers are gorgeous. 😉
    Kara @ Diary of a Te recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Book Characters That Would Be Sitting At My Lunch TableMy Profile

  14. This is amazing. It's like a one stop shop for people who are planning to read this book. They can immediately get a good grasp about books 1 and books 2 without tediously scouring Goodreads.

    I must admit, however, that these 2 reviews made me conflicted. Jeann's review was urging me to immediately buy the first book but Michelle's was screaming NOOOOO! Which is which? Hahahah. Need to be careful because I am not a big zombie book fan. Maybe, the best thing to do for now is wait for your review about book 3.

    Scandalous romance? Can't make up her mind? Oh no… that's not a good sign. T_T

    Lovely review, ladies!
    Charlotte @ Thoughts recently posted…Book Review: WitherMy Profile

    • Hi, Michelle! I am so sorry if I made you feel that way or that my comment confused you. I really thought that this is a double review between you and Jeann. Sorry, my bad I wasn't paying attention to the author's box. I was used to the two of you writing on the same post like the Indulgence Insider. It was an automatic reflex that I assumed that the first review was written by Jeann and the second one was written by you.

      So having the above assumption, I feel conflicted because "Jeann's" review of the first book was positive so I feel like giving the series a try. "Her" review made me excited because I rarely read zombie books. However, when I read your review for the second book, all my excitement vanished because you only gave it a 2.5 star rating. That's why I was doubtful and asked myself, which is which? Should I pick up the series or not? Book 1 was good (as per "Jeann's" review) but book 2 suffered from the second book syndrome (as per your review). So my mind was practically warring between YES and NO!

      Now, that things are already clarified, I am really sorry. For what it's worth, I read the two reviews only that I didn't pay any attention about the post author. As I've mentioned earlier, it was an auto reflex.

      I hope my explanation made some sense. Again, my apologies. And thanks for bringing this immediately to my attention. I might have to add this incident to my list of blogging bloopers. *facepalm*
      Charlotte @ Thoughts recently posted…Book Review: WitherMy Profile

      • Hey Charlotte, sorry we got you confused! Michelle reviewed both book 1 and 2 in this particular post. There is always going to be a bit of an adjusting period as now both Michelle and I are putting up reviews, and sometimes we do combined reviews as well. I'll try and think of ways to make it clearer, other than the signature at the bottom and the author box at the bottom. It looks like Valerie got it confused as well, so I'll have to think of how I present the reviews.

        Sounds like it was a misunderstanding – I hope both of you guys are okay.

        • Hahaha! It's okay, Jeann. No problemo. I'm usually prone to commit this type of mistake. Remember my book blogging bloopers blog post? At least, I got your names right. I can't help but laugh at myself and at the same time, be embarrassed. *hides*
          Charlotte @ Thoughts recently posted…Book Review: WitherMy Profile

  15. Your gifs are always so spot-on, Mich. XD Something Strange and Deadly almost didn't work for me until the ending saved it. Glad it was a zombie book that's for you though. And then I read your A Darkness Strange and Lovely review and went all meh. Should I finish this trilogy? Maybe I'd wait till you review the last book. Fantastic reviews, Mich. 🙂
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  16. I was reading your review for the first book and was all excited and wanted to read this one as I avoid zombie books for the same reason. But that writing and believable plot!!! That's what I need. Then I started reading the review for the second one and *le sigh*. Someone someday said (Tom Hiddleson about movie sequels – I have seen too many of his interviews) it's not a good sequel if you just put it into microwave and heat it up. And this I guess happened here. Too bad for that. Great reviews, Michelle 🙂
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    • Ah, yes! I loved, loved, loved the first! For all it gave me, it's worth it for anyone, I believe. You should read it either way! Maybe you'll even enjoy it more than I did! LOL I love that saying! True, true! Thank you, Tanja! <3

  17. It's a shame the second book wasn't as fabulous as the first seems to have been. I have never really read a zombie book before, and I might do so by reading his one made into a movie but I forgot what it was called xD I'm not sure if zombie books are much god really, but you made this one sound reasonable. Maybe after reading the one I am going to I can test out the waters of this one!

    Check out my post about the Incredibles:
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  18. Yes! It's awesome to meet you too! 🙂 Ah, I've wanted to read these forever too! I've never watched a zombie show yet, but The Walking Dead captivates me! This gave me a major case of second book syndrome. 🙁 Thank you, Emma!

  19. It's so nice to meet you Michelle *waves* Anyways back to your review… I have these on my kindle for ages and I still haven't read them yet. If I'm honest, I love Zombie movies and shows but I haven't read a great zombie book yet like you. They don't grip you like the shows, something is always missing. In the first book, I'm all like "I want to read this", but then it looks as if the second suffers majorly with the sequel syndrome. Which is such a shame. I may give these a go in the future though. Great reviews! 🙂
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  20. Oh, your first review got me really excited to read this series Michelle, but nooo! I hate it when the sequel doesn't live up to the previous book. When you described the historical and the zombies, it reminded me of Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel which I surprisingly read in one go. Really lovely reviews hun!

    • Yay! I find that sequels don't live up to the previous potential regularly for me. Like The Treatment compared to The Program by Suzanne Young. The first was fabulous and intriguing, and the sequel was "eh" for me. I have Dearly, Departed in my bookshelf! It's a read that I wanted to conquer for a long time. Thanks, lovely!

  21. I've seen that cover around everywhere and I've always been tempted to just go for it (because historical fiction and I are super tight) but for some odd reason, I always forget about it. But awesome review, Michelle! I'll definitely consider this one for a holiday read. I've had such terrible luck with zombies in YA–they just never turn out right. Hopefully this one will treat me better.
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    • Yeah, that was me before reading this! I've literally seen it all over the place, and I needed to try a new zombie read. I have a love-hate relationship with historical fiction—and I usually end up hating it. But I love the way it was incorporated with this book! Exactly. There hasn't even been a good one before this for me, even the raved "Alice in Zombieland" was a disaster for me. Yes, I hope that you will enjoy this, Jess!

  22. Oh no, bummer! That's too bad, espcially because you really enjoyed book 1. I must say that I did see many mixed reviews for this series and, unlike you, I don't like zombie stories. XD I mean, I've tried some, for example Warm Bodies since the movie surprisingly appealed to me but I thought it was boring and it seems you weren't interesed in book 2 so what would be the point for me to start this series? Hmm, maybe one day LOL Awesome reviews!
    Lola @ Hit or Miss B recently posted…Review: Tortured Souls (The Orion Circle #1) by Kimber Leigh WheatonMy Profile

    • Hmm… Exactly! I will end up reading the third book just for the sake that I overall like and enjoy reading this series, despite the flaws that came out in the sequel. I've watched the Warm Bodies movie and really liked it, and I was originally planning on reading the book right after but I never got to it. Maybe one day? Ay, you should still give book 1 a try! It really can change everything if you didn't like it or if you liked it. Thank you, Lola! <3

  23. So I skipped your second review, BUT THIS. I DO SO BADLY WANT TO READ SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY because ZOMBIEs. I don't think I've read a YA zombie book yet (The Girl with All the Gifts was good, but was adult). And I think this is something I would really, really like. Thanks for the awesome review Jeann!
    Valerie recently posted…Nessie Reviews ☆ A Series of Unfortunate EventsMy Profile

      • LOL, don't worry haha, we all have those days xD. I can barely think straight when it's late! You have to, Valerie! Ugh it's so worth it. Haha, good that you skipped it because then you might've found out some few things that happened previously. I really want to read The Girl With All the Gifts! It's raved about so often so I'm bracing myself for something amazing. I hope that you will enjoy this as much as I did and more! Thank you! <3