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.
AH’s Review – 5 Skulls – A
That was exhilarating! Something Strange and Deadly is a young adult novel with a feisty, unconventional heroine.
Something Strange and Deadly was an enjoyable read. Set in Philadelphia during the late 1880’s the book captures that era’s proper Victorian decorum. Gowns, corsets, parasols, gloves, chaperones, and tea are a part of this world. Meanwhile the Dead are on the loose, an imminent threat to the population.
The story begins as our heroine Eleanor Fitt is eagerly awaiting the return of her brother Elijah from his world travels. Eleanor’s family has had some misfortunes. Her father died and the family finances are being rapidly depleted. The circumstances surrounding her father’s death has also resulted in Eleanor’s family being snubbed by society, further complicating any chance of Eleanor marrying into money. Elijah is their only hope for financial recovery. To Eleanor’s great disappointment, Elijah is not on the train. Instead, the station is attacked by the Dead.
There is so much to love about this book. First of all, Eleanor’s character is well developed. She is not a shrinking violet. Eleanor is a brave and determined young woman, not afraid to use her parasol to fight off the dead. (Who knew? A well placed whack around the knees would bring down the dead). Eleanor is not your usual heroine. She is not rail thin and she worried how she looks in all the frills and lace and layers of clothes as she already has her “…own liberal padding in those lower regions.” – I like her already! Eleanor is loyal to her family and she worries constantly about her brother’s situation.
Eleanor dislikes society’s rules about as much as she dislikes her name. I found it hilarious that she made fun of her name:
“Miss Fitt? Miss Fit? I’m a misfit Mama – that’s what I am!”
Not only is Eleanor a positive female role model, the author adds in characters of color and ethnicity. Normally, I don’t really pay attention to these kinds of details as much as I should, but I really liked Jie Chen’s character– a second positive female role model! Jie was one of the Spirit Hunters. A young girl from China, Jie wore her hair like a man and was happy to be away from China because she did not have to bind her feet as was the custom in those days. Jie tells Eleanor that she has a choice about how she dresses, although Eleanor has difficulty believing that she could get away without wearing a corset. Jie kind of reminded me of a stealth Ninja fighter.
The Spirit Hunters were an intriguing group. Joseph Boyer headed the Spirit Hunters. He was a necromancer from New Orleans. I was fascinated with his character. Joseph’s background in New Orleans included some time with the Voodoo Queen. The other member of the Spirit Hunters was Daniel Sheridan. At first I did not know what to think of him – he was a little arrogant and high up on himself. Daniel’s character grew on me, especially when he was with Eleanor. Their banter was entertaining. Daniel was the tinkerer of the group, the gadget guy. The brass goggles that detected spiritual energy were my favorite contraption.
This book is jam packed with action and excitement. The necromancer sequences are thrilling. The fight scenes had me on the edge of my seat. The malevolent spirit was frightening.
Something Strange and Deadly is a well written young adult novel with a touch of voodoo, magic, and steampunk. I highly recommend it.
“You have the curiosity of a cat and the common sense of a goldfish.”
“Grimoires, spirit powder, and voodoo. It was more horrifying and fantastic than I’d ever imagined.”
“Women in pastel gowns shimmered under streetlamps, and their dragging skirts whispered like a symphony of moth wings.”
Series Reading Order:
1. Something Strange and Deadly – July 24, 2012
2. A Darkness Strange and Lovely – expected publication date 2013
Check out the book’s website here. There are some cool extras including character profiles, a scavenger hunt, fashions and more.
Thank you to Edelweiss and HarperTeen for a review copy of this book.
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