Something Strange & Deadly by Susan Dennard | Book Review




It’s 1876 in Philadephia and the increase in the number of Dead rising from their graves is unsettling. Eleanor has seen them firsthand while she was waiting for her brother Elijah at the train station. Elijah doesn’t show up and she receives an alarming telegraph from him that was delivered by one of the zombies in the station. She’s worried for her brother — for obvious reasons — but also because she and her mom are struggling to maintain their wealth after their father died. As she tries to find out what happened to her brother she is thrust into the world of the Spirit Hunters who are trying to save the city from the Dead and figure out who is controlling them.

OH MY GOODNESS! I had an ARC of Something Strange & Deadly and then was sent a finished copy and it just sat on my shelf. I wasn’t really sure it was my thing. Then it became our book club book and THANK GOD because I loved this book and I’m regretting just letting it sit on the shelf for so long. It was such an absorbing and addictive read that I blew through and immediately started the next book. The thing you have to understand….I NEVER go right to the next book immediately. EVER. I read things in between. So THAT should tell you something about how obsessed I am right now over this series.

From the opening scene I was HOOKED. Walking Dead? Historic Philadelphia (my city!)? Petticoats, corsets and parasols? YES PLEASE. The mystery woven in from the start with the disappearance of Elijah didn’t let up and even more mysterious elements with the increase in walking Dead were added. It was just such a compelling read for me because it contained so many elements I loved — mystery, historical fiction, smooth writing, very slow burn romance and a compelling paranormal element that doesn’t feel overdone. I quickly became obsessed as it was just so compulsively readable!

The world-building was pretty sparse but I actually enjoyed that. You immediately know that there are Dead rising in this 1876. We don’t really know WHY they are but it’s just something that as a reader you accept as part of the world. They rise sometimes. But then the real tension comes because it’s becoming WAY more frequent and there have been some gruesome deaths. We learn WHY the increase is happening and what not but we don’t ever learn how they rise in the first place. It didn’t bother me not to know because I quickly got into the world and just accepted that was a part of it. I LOVED how Susan Dennard wrote the setting for Something Strange & Deadly. Maybe it was just that I knew most of the places in Philadelphia she was talking about but I loved being immersed in this time period.

One thing I will tell you is that the zombie/Dead are not the main focus of this novel so if you are looking for a really gory zombie novel this isn’t really that. They don’t make make up as much “screen time” as, say maybe, my favorite show The Walking Dead. I personally don’t READ a ton of zombie novels, despite my intense love for The Walking Dead, so the balance was just fine for me because the story was amazing and the Dead were very much being controlled by something — they weren’t just aimlessly hungry and wandering types of zombies. There was a purpose and someone making it happen. It’s a very fresh approach to the idea of zombies or walking dead. I will say I figured out WHO was controlling the Dead but there were still some other things I didn’t connect the dots which blew my mind.

I LOVED THIS SO MUCH. Obsessed, I tell you. I couldn’t put it down because of the absorbing mystery elements, the fresh take on the idea of zombies, the Victorian Philadelphia setting, the compulsive readability, the characters and the very slow burn romance that just dangles there and filled my heart with tension. I’m not a huge paranormal reader but I WANT TO SHOUT MY LOVE FROM THE ROOFTOPS. There honestly wasn’t anything I didn’t like about this book. It was that type of read where I was so immersed in the whole of it that I couldn’t be bothered to think about anything other than what was happening in the book. I love that kind of read where I’m so absorbed in the story that I can’t even think of all the reviewer things that normal come in my head.

Something Strange & Deadly review


Letโ€™s Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it? If you’ve read it what do you think?? How did you like this approach to zombies? Do you totally ship Eleanor & Daniel? (Anyone else here kind of feel bad for Clarence?). Also, did you guess who the necromancer was?? I had a hunch!

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. I am a HUGE fan of the Something Strange & Deadly series, as you well know. I only read it this year as well, so I’m a little late on this fangirl train too. But better late than never, right? I adore what Susan Dennard has done in her books – with the world, with her story, but especially with her characters. I love Eleanor – she’s spunky and awesome and smart. I love Daniel because he’s swoony and nerdy and wonderful. And I love the Spirit Hunters for being kick-ass. All in all, it’s a stellar series starter! I can’t wait for you to see what happens in A Darkness Strange & Lovely ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. I haven’t read this series but I sure have been hearing a GREAT DEAL OF AWESOMELICIOUS praises! The Walking Dead doesn’t sounds scary and gross and ugh, not so appealing, but your review has convinced me to pick it up =D All this mystery and WHO WHAT WHEN WHY HOW HUH?! is killing me haha!! And I know I have to meet this Daniel guy hmm

    Alicia @ Summer Next Top Story

  3. I have not even heard of this series, but I’m sold! Added to my TBR list and it’s going on the list of books to read soon-ish as well. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thanks for sharing… hopefully I’ll become as possessed… I mean, obsessed… as you. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. I love, no LOVE, this series! I have read both books and the novella, A Dawn Most Wicked, which I also highly recommend: it’s a prequel about Daniel and a steamboat captain’s teenage daughter and some walking dead! It’s Wicked awesome (haha)! And book 2 is set in Paris! I always love a book set in Paris. The cover of Book 3 was just released, and it is gorgeous. It will be set in Egypt – I can’t wait ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I’ve skipped over this one bc I don’t like zombie books. Should I give it a try anyway? The covers are gorgeous and always draw me in, but the whole zombie thing has made me not pick them up.

  6. I fell in love with this book the moment I finished chapter one. Unlike you, I couldn’t jump right into the second one, but I was lucky enough the A Darkness Strange and Lovely was only a few weeks away. I also got to meet Susan right after that and she is just the sweetest person ever!

    I don’t think there is anything about this series that I don’t love – except that I don’t have Strange and Ever After in my hands. I love the fresh take on zombies, I love the extremely slow build of Eleanor and Daniel’s romance, I love Daniel (and Eleanor), I love the Shadow Hunters . . . I think you get the point.

  7. Loved this one, Jamie! I haven’t read book two yet but that’s because it wasn’t out yet when I finished this or I might have read right on like you did. I thought the historical setting was fantastic, as were the characters. I can’t believe you waited this long to read it! Now maybe you will try more books like this?

  8. I hadn’t given this book much thought because of the whole zombie aspect. I’ve never been a fan of anything majorly zombie related or gory, except possibly Shaun of the Dead. But I’m guessing parodies don’t really count. Anyways, I think I’ll have to try Something Strange and Deadly. You’ve piqued my interest in it.

  9. SO SO happy you liked this one. I’ve been meaning to buy the sequel and haven’t yet because I’m not where I can drop everything and read it. I was so totally immersed in this book – in the location, the characters, and the romance. YAY that you loved it, too.

  10. I know little of Pennsylvania but how Susan dennard describes scenes is very atmospheric and I LOVE THAT ABOUT a book. She writes so beautiful . I love how the historical was woven in with paranormal.

    I can’t wait for the last one. * sheds a tear*

  11. Lol I meant Philadelphia .oops

  12. The only truly zombie attack book I’ve read is Courtney Summers’ This is Not a Test. I loved that, but zombies really aren’t my thing. I don’t watch The Walking Dead either because I just don’t think it would be something I’d enjoy (I am considering giving it a try eventually, though). But all of this is to say that this book didn’t initially sound interesting to me. The more I hear about it, though, the more curious I become. With the finale getting published soon, maybe this will be a perfect binge read series. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Glad you not only got around to reading this one, but ended up loving it! Always nice when that happens.

  13. OMG YAYYYY!!! I’m so happy you loved this book! I really enjoyed it and I have been meaning to get to book two ASAP but still haven’t made it there yet ๐Ÿ™ I absolutely adore Susan Dennard too! She’s so incredibly nice and has been a huge help during NaNo so far! I can’t wait to read A Darkness Strange and Lovely! Must do that soon ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. I LOVE this series. It has everything – action, adventure, romance, zombies, steampunk. Can’t wait for the final book so I can binge read the whole thing from the beginning again

  15. Samantha Wallace says:

    I would love to read this book because it is high on my TBR list and I love your reviews!! ๐Ÿ™‚


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