Book Review: SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY by Susan Dennard

Genre: Fantasy/Paranormal/Steampunk
Age Range: YA
Star Rating: 5/5 Stars
Series: Yes - first of trilogy


something strange and deadly

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 the maddeningly stubborn yet handsome Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.


I’m so glad I finally got around to reading this. I loved it, and I usually can’t stand zombies. The plot is a romp around Philadelphia in petticoats from graveyards to opera houses all why chased by the Dead (I think it helped that they weren’t called zombies). There’s also a dash of industrial sabotage and oh-so-subtle-and-unresolved romance in the air. The ending is also great – it ends on an understated, but far more realistic note.

I loved the Victorian era setting, with very subtle steampunk-ish elements – there are about two pieces of futuristic tech involved. The concerns of the elite (marriage, wealth, being ‘proper’) are both amusing and vexing in equal measure as they mask the problem of the Dead and prevent Eleanor helping.

Eleanor was a fun protagonist, struggling to balance her own desires, love for her family and societal expectations. Her arc is great, and watching her find (well, start to, there are two more books to come) her place was brilliant.

If I have one critique, it’s that I worked out the identity of the Necromancer by about halfway through. I was unsure which of two characters would be the Necromancer (because it would have been a poor, cop-out reveal if the Necromancer wasn’t a character we were already familiar with and Susan Dennard is not a lazy writer), but after a few information reveals, I predicted which character it was.

I’m looking forwards to reading the other two books in the trilogy.

Read my reviews of other Susan Dennard books:

Something Strange and Deadly: (this series)

The Witchlands:

The Luminaries:


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