The nice folks at HarperCollins sent me an ARC of Dennard’s debut novel, and I have to say, what a treat. Eleanor Fitt is a spirited young woman growing up in Victorian Philadelphia. Her witless, spendthrift mother is only one of the many problems Eleanor has to deal with on a regular basis. The others include her missing brother, her increasing poverty, the threat of marriage to anyone with money, and, oh yeah, ZOMBIES.
So, the dead walk in Philadelphia, and Eleanor and her new (and disreputable) friends the Spirit-Hunters are uniquely poised to save the city. This book was laugh out loud funny at times. The author’s attempts at seriousness fell flat occasionally, but I did genuinely care about Eleanor’s predicament. I enjoyed the little romance, too. I’m pulling for Eleanor and Daniel. The author included plenty of details about Philadelphia, too, which I appreciated. I live close enough to Philadelphia that most of those details were recognizable to me. It was nice, too, to read about an urban setting other than New York, LA, or Chicago. I so appreciate a well-contextualized place. That said, I thought the historical contextualization was a little heavy-handed. Yes, we get it, it’s the Victorian Era and everyone’s very stuffy and proper. It was just a little thick. Dennard’s characterization is thorough, but a little clumsy at times. These small faults I think are just first-novel kinks. I expect the other books in this series to be better, if her publishers don’t rush her too much.
Something Strange and Deadly is a wonderful rom-com steampunk zombie romp, and how often do you get to read one of those? It was so, so fun to read. Pick it up next time you want some suspense mixed with something to smile about.