Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Historical Fiction/Steampunk elements
eARC: 400 pages
Release date: July 24, 2012
Series: Something Strange and Deadly #1
Reviewed by: Lili
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.
When I saw this gorgeous cover, I knew I had to read this book. When I was lucky enough to get an ARC, I could barely contain my excitement. And when I finally began reading this book, I was intrigued and slightly shocked. As awesome as this story is, it is not the novel that I thought it would be. I expected an awesome zombie novel full of steampunk elements placed back in the Victorian era to add in the concept of historical fiction. Instead, it almost felt like a huge mystery surrounding zombies with a budding romance on the side while the novel still expertly employed amazing steampunk inventions at the hands of Daniel in the Victorian era. While the Dead play a huge part in this novel—I mean, they attack in the very beginning of the story which was pretty damn awesome—the zombies are not the main focus. The main focus of the novel is unraveling the mystery surrounding Elijah’s absence while struggling to unearth the identity of the necromancer before the Dead become uncontrollable.
Either way, I found myself loving this story because of the amazing plot, the convoluted mystery, and the fact that you could connect with pretty much every character, and even feel slightly bad for the villain in the end because you could understand their initial motives, even if they became skewed with time. The supporting characters are just as strong and important as the main characters. Such a thing made the novel incredibly enjoyable and easy to read.
Eleanor is a strong-willed heroine that is easily one of the most likable characters that I have come across in a while. At the tender age of sixteen, she experiences so much forcefulness at the hands of her mother to marry so that they could gain a fortune that they lost with the death of Eleanor’s father—Mr. Fitt. But Eleanor is not willing to be something she is not and often goes against her mothers desperate wishes to do what she knows is right. She will do anything to save her brother, even if that means associating with those of lesser status than she. While her mother forbids such a thing, Eleanor does not judge those who are different, for she is a misfit among the high-class citizens. Filled with the sass that any sixteen year old would have, Eleanor silently longs to run free in trousers instead of her silly and unnecessarily expensive dresses. She’ll risk her life to save those most dear to her and she silently curses all women who bend over backwards to snare a rich gentleman's attention. In other words, Eleanor is definitely my kind of girl.
The beginning of the story is slightly slow because you have to get used to the new era that you are suddenly transported to, but once strange happenings occur at the Fitt family séance, the story will begin to pick up speed and will never slow down. More and more strange coincidences come to light as a mystery slowly unfolds, only to have obstacle after obstacle thrown into Eleanor’s path. The creativity within the plot of this novel is endless, though the plot is somewhat predictable at times. As the story progresses, horrifying truths are revealed and you begin to question everything that evolves around the strange and deadly happenings in Philadelphia.
This book will ensnare you from the very beginning. While it is not action-packed and full of zombies, you won’t be able to put it down. A good read that you’ll be forced to finish in a single sitting because you will simply have to know what happens next.