Author Blog Tour Review: A Darkness Strange & Lovely by Susan Dennard

 

Back in January I read a book that left me giddy and squealing on Facebook with glee. Ever since I've been trying to get my hands on the sequel, so when Rockstar Books Tours announced they were hosting the blog tour for A Darkness Strange & Lovely by Susan Dennard, the sequel to Something Strange & Deadly, I knew I had to do anything to be part of it. So welcome to the Working for the Mandroid stop on Ms. Dennard's blog tour for the second book in her Victorian era zombie steampunk adventure series. Below you will find a review of this second book as well as a contest to win your very own copy to squeal over.

A Darkness Strange & Lovely
Susan Dennard

HarperTeen
Released on July 23, 2013
416 pages
YA / Zombies / Steampunk

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Purchase it from Amazon

Following an all-out battle with the walking Dead, the Spirit Hunters have fled Philadelphia, leaving Eleanor alone to cope with the devastating aftermath. But there’s more trouble ahead—the evil necromancer Marcus has returned, and his diabolical advances have Eleanor escaping to Paris to seek the help of Joseph, Jie, and the infuriatingly handsome Daniel once again. When she arrives, however, she finds a whole new darkness lurking in this City of Light. As harrowing events unfold, Eleanor is forced to make a deadly decision that will mean life or death for everyone.

I came to Something Strange and Deadly a little late in the game, having only picked it up in January after its beautiful cover haunted me from all corners of the interwebs and more than one reader suggested I pick it up. Zombies in a Victorian era Philadelphia with a charming and rakish inventor that has a love/hate relationship with a smart high society girl? It had all the elements that I wasn’t surprised that I loved it, only how much it left me flailing for more when it was over. My crush on Daniel snuck up on me and gave Bram (from my other Victorian-ish zombie series) a run for his money. So of course I was ever so eager to participate in the blog tour for the sequel, anything to get my hands on more Daniel, more zombie shenanigans, more Eleanor stumbling her way into trouble only to fight her way back out.

And Dennard does not disappoint. The charm and humor that made Something Strange and Deadly so entertaining and unique in a flood of zombie genre mash ups is on every page while a steady heartbeat of emotions keeps the plot from spinning out of control. The first half of the book finds Eleanor suffering the consequences of the scandal resulting from the cover up of what really happened during the zombie outbreak in Philadelphia. We pick up a few months later, finding Eleanor selling all her family’s possessions one by one to pay for her mother’s care at a mental institution after learning the truth about her son caused a nervous breakdown.

Eleanor is barely hanging on to her own sanity, seeing trouble in every shadow and having been abandoned by everyone but her maid. News from Jie of the Spirit Hunters’ adventures is the only good thing in her life. When signs point to Marcus’ return, Eleanor must use all her cunning and intelligence to hitch a ride on a steamer to France to join up with the highly successful Spirit Hunters in Paris in hopes of finding guidance, assistance, and safety with her zombie-fighting friends. Of course nothing seems to work out how Eleanor wants and shenanigans ensue.

Eleanor is as strong and fierce as in the first book, if not more so now that she’s been through so many unusual brushes with death. She’s independent and resourceful, an entertaining and strong YA heroine that I could read about all day. She has moments of weakness and occasionally feels a bit helpless, but that doesn’t stop her from acting in whatever manner she thinks is best for her and her friends. Even running for her life and going against everything she’s been taught by the Spirit Hunters in an attempt to save her own life, she remains strong while feeling the guilty and anxiety that fits her character.

Moving this zombie story to Paris only adds another layer of intrigue and mystery. Eleanor has never left Philadelphia before and the Spirit Hunters aren’t exactly highly cultured individuals. Adding this fish-out-of-water element allows Dennard to introduce more unusual characters in a culture that’s slightly different from the high society Eleanor left behind. Despite the internal conflicts going on inside, the sense of wonder and excitement that Eleanor has in discovering Paris makes this book come alive even more.

My only real complaint? There isn’t enough Daniel. Dennard left me hanging for 200 pages before Daniel showed up. Two hundred pages of me floundering along with Eleanor, though at least I was comforted by the fact that I knew Daniel was a big fat liar when he said he didn’t love her at the end of the previous book. Oliver, the former demon companion of Eleanor’s older brother, is not a substitute for the charmingly brash Daniel. Oliver is a drunken society boy, who only wants to be set free and is both an asset and a hindrance to Eleanor. He has his moments of charm, but overall he is a creature working for himself except in situations where he must do something for others. Oliver is no Daniel, but a worthy foil for Eleanor’s newest exploits and another point of view on the unusual events she keeps finding herself in the middle.

So if I’m going to complain of the lack of Daniel, I must at least admit that the way he returned to the story is unexpected and incredibly epic. After being a rack with horrible societal manners, Daniel is now attempting to fit in within high society, consciously changing his speech and mannerism, and it is absolutely adorable. The few encounters between him and Eleanor before Oliver shows up to throw a wrench into their budding relationship are butterfly-inducing and potentially swoon-worthy. Even in the most innocuous exchange, there is heat and hidden passion that finally gets a tiny outlet by the time all is said and done in this volume. Still the relationship is left all but straight forward.

Eleanor spends most of this book proving herself to her allies and trying to become her own person amidst chaos and confusion. The conclusion of A Darkness Strange & Lovely sets up a potentially epic third volume that will be heavy on the action. Relationships are all up in the air by the end and nothing is straight forward in this world of monsters and magic. Dennard out does herself, creating a female character that is strong and conflicted, far from Mary Sue perfection, while Daniel remains as swoon-worthy as ever. A worthy continuation of one of my favorite current YA series.

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About the Author:

Susan Dennard is a writer, reader, lover of animals, and eater of cookies. She used to be a marine biologist, but now she writes novels. And not novels about fish either, but novels about kick-butt heroines and swoon-worthy rogues (she really likes swoon-worthy rogues).

She lives in the Midwest with her French husband and Irish setter, and her debut, SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY, is now available from HarperTeen.

Visit Susan Online: Website/Blog/Twitter/Facebook/Goodreads

 

Enter to Win!

Susan and HarperTeen are providing 10 lucky winners with prizes from the Something Strange and Deadly universe. Five US winners will receive a hardcover copy of A Darkness Strange & Lovely and a paperback copy of Something Strange and Deadly while five other winners (open internationally!) will receive the e-novella A Dawn Most Wicked and signed swag. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Visit the other blogs on the A Darkness Strange & Lovely tour below!

Tour Schedule:

7/15/2013

Bookcase to Heaven™

 

 

7/16/2013

Magical Urban Fantasy Reads

 

 

7/17/2013

Tynga's Reviews

 

 

7/18/2013

Supernatural Snark

 

 

7/19/2013

The Book Cellar

 

 

7/22/2013

Read-A-holicZ

 

 

7/23/2013

IceyBooks

 

 

7/24/2013

Working for the Mandroid

 

 

7/25/2013

The Reader's Antidote

 

 

7/26/2013

Two Chicks on Books

 

 

 

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review as part of the blog tour. Thank you so much to Susan, HarperTeen and Rockstar Book Tours for having me as part of the tour!