Genre: Historical Fantasy
Series: Something Strange and Deadly #1
Source: Won from HarperTeen
(Side note: Something Strange and Deadly is out today!!)
Eleanor's brother has been away for his studies for years and she can't wait to welcome him home. However, the Walking Dead are threatening Philadelphia, and she has reason to believe her brother might be in danger. Determined to save him, Eleanor asks for help from the Spirit-Hunters and finds herself involved in a war full of corpses and lies.
At first, I wasn't sure if I liked Eleanor, but I think that's because she's more in society's grip in the beginning of the novel than she is by the end. About a quarter of the way in, I began to see that she's witty, strong, intelligent, and determined. Her devotion to finding her brother really endeared her to me, especially since I would do the same for my own brother.
As for the romance, the description makes it sound a lot more important to the plot than it really is. (This is a good thing- I love when a book has a solid plot and the romance arc is just icing on the cake!) Dennard does a fantastic job of creating a realistic, well-paced relationship between Eleanor and Daniel, and I think the reader falls in love with him at the same speed Eleanor does.
The mystery isn't too hard to figure out. It really only took me a hundred pages or so. However, there's enough intrigue around the motive to keep the story interesting, and enough action to keep the reader flipping the pages. The Dead are terrifying and gruesome, making for a really great tale of necromancy and zombies. And there is a twist that will surprise you.
The setting of Philadelphia in 1876 is perfect, and I liked that the Exhibition is in the center of the action. It's a great combination of the supernatural and the scientific. The time period also gives Eleanor depth as she struggles to find freedom in an era that still looks down on women. Fans of Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle trilogy will love Eleanor in all of her feisty, feminist glory.
If You Liked These, You'll Like This: A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray, Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel, Terrier by Tamora Pierce
What's your favorite zombie novel?