Book review: A DARKNESS STRANGE AND LOVELY by Susan Dennard

Genre: Fantasy/paranormal/steampunk
Age Range: YA
Star Rating: 4/5 stars
Series: Yes - second book in trilogy



a darkness strange and lovely.jpg

With her brother dead and her mother insane, Eleanor Fitt is alone. Even the Spirit-Hunters—Joseph, Jie, and the handsome Daniel—have fled to Paris. So when Eleanor hears the vicious barking of hounds and sees haunting yellow eyes, she fears that the Dead, and the necromancer Marcus, are after her.

To escape, Eleanor boards a steamer bound for France. There she meets Oliver, a young man who claims to have known her brother. But Oliver harbors a dangerous secret involving necromancy and black magic that entices Eleanor beyond words. If she can resist him, she’ll be fine. But when she arrives in Paris, she finds that the Dead have taken over, and there’s a whole new evil lurking. And she is forced to make a deadly decision that will go against everything the Spirit-Hunters stand for.

In Paris, there’s a price for this darkness strange and lovely, and it may have Eleanor paying with her life.


A great sequel to SS&D, filled with more Dead-fueled romps (though Eleanor’s finding it easier to run now she’s shed her corset and many petticoats!). The book follows on from SS&D seamlessly, showing the effects of SS&D’s ending on Eleanor’s life.

The magic is really delved into, showing the nuances and complexities of the world Dennard has built. It added another layer to the world and took it to a new plac, really differentiating it from the first book.

Ollie was a great addition to the cast – I loved how I could never be sure if I could trust him. The dynamic between him and Eleanor was great – secrets and regrets and mistrust, and yet the desire to want to trust one another. There was nothing romantic about them – yay!

I really liked the Paris setting. I originally thought all three books were going to be in Philadelphia, but moving the story to Paris kept it feeling fresh rather than using the same setting again. Also, Paris itself is simply an amazing city – glamourous and with a sense of mystery that added to the atmosphere.

Once again, I guessed one of the villains – but the decoy had me completely fooled. The drama between Daniel, Joseph and Eleanor felt a little overdone – one of those they haven’t really talked about it, and hence are all angry and calling each other names situations. Joseph, in particular, felt more than a little unreasonable – though I thought the way Eleanor eventually stood up for herself and her choices was great.

Final book here I come!

Read my reviews of other books by Susan Dennard:

Something Strange and Deadly (this series):

The Witchlands:

The Luminaries:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s