Something Strange And Deadly Susan Dennard Book Review

My attention usually perks up when someone mentions zombies. Throw 1876, the post-Civil War era into the mix and you have me as a reader hook line and sinker. Something Strange And Deadly by Susan Dennard adds a unique spin to the paranormal zombie genre via setting. Further, it is an example of strong characterization. Something Strange And Deadly does not take a turn for gimmicky, but instead is a genuinely good book and unique story.

Something Strange And Deadly Susan Dennard Book Cover

The walking Dead are plaguing Philadelphia. As if Eleanor Fitt didn’t have enough to worry about, what with being her formerly wealthy family’s last hope in achieving prestige again, she now has to worry about if the Dead have her brother Elijah. Eleanor must turn to the Spirit Hunters for help — speaking of which she’s totally attracted to one of the Spirit Hunters, Daniel, the problem is he is below her class. Meanwhile, her mother is trying to foist her off on Clarence Wilcox, one of Philadelphia’s most wealthy bachelors. As you can see, Eleanor has a lot deal with. Luckily, she’s quite the plucky heroine.

Eleanor is headstrong and brave for her time period. She does not simper or wait for others to take action. Instead, Eleanor is the sort of female who takes the bull right by the horns. She’s very loyal to her brother and also does her familial duty despite not exactly loving it. PLUS! When the walking Dead show up she doesn’t cower in fear or faint, but instead thinks with a clear and logical head. She is a pleasure to read about.

Something Strange And Deadly does an excellent job providing readers with a sense of place and time. In the book, Philadelphia is holding an international exhibition and so many tourists are in the city taking in the new sights and technology. The exhibition also brings the spirit hunters to Philadelphia. Dennard does fabulous work in making the technology of 1876 seem new and wondrous. Beyond the machinery of the age, Dennard also incorporates the constructs of social structure.  Class divisions are illustrated in the dialogue — for example Clarence Wilcox, who is one of Eleanor’s rich and wealthy suitors, speaks using formal speech patterns. In contrast with Clarence is Daniel, one of the spirit hunters, Daniel is working class and thus employs a lot of slang and contractions in his speech. I thought this was an interesting way to show that people of various classes spoke differently.

For a long book, clocking in at 388 pages, Something Strange And Deadly by Susan Dennard is rather engaging. There are not very dull moments. Instead, the book has an interesting plot, plus there is an air of mystery as to the identity of the  necromancer raising the dead. The dialogue is not clunky or weird or out of place — even with the class divisions. I also found the characters to be quite likeable.

The romance within Something Strange And Deadly is subtle. It’s not quite in your face. Eleanor doesn’t spend the entire book pining or fantacizing about a certain character. She does entertain notions of kissing the character, but it’s not something that happens on the first page. Instead she gets to know her love interest and through working with him and assisting him, she then decides that she’s into him. It’s quite the slow burn and very swoonworthy when she realizes she has feelings for him and he for her. I will say, this book is light on physical interaction between the two characters. It’s not a kissing fest by any means.

Susan Dennard’s Something Strange And Deadly was an unexpectedly good read. It has a unique concept. It’s got such a cool setting. There’s a romance that is neither instant nor overwhelming. The main character is someone to cheer for. The stakes feel real. If you’re looking for a young adult paranormal book where the girl doesn’t fall in love with the zombie, check out Something Strange And Deadly, it is well worth your time.

Disclosure: Received for review via a few sources — Amazon Vine and also from publisher, holla!

Other reviews of Something Strange And Deadly by Susan Dennard:

365 Days Of Reading – “a fun romp through an alternate history (with zombies)

Cuddlebuggery – “mixes aspects of Steampunk with good ol’ zombie fun.

Hobbitsies – “I just wasn’t grabbed by it

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I had fun with this book, especially loving the Philly setting! I am very interested in spending more time with Daniel in Paris in the second book (I believe that is what’s going to happen.)

  2. Great review! I loved that the romance was so subtle. Boy was that refreshing. I knew I would enjoy this book but it exceeded my expectations and I can’t wait for the next book!

  3. I’m glad this book surprised you in a good way. I don’t usually go for the zombie story but the setting seems to set this one apart in a good way! 😀 Thanks for sharing your thoughts. 😀

  4. I’m glad you enjoyed this book! I liked the mix of steampunk and zombies. I found it to be very refreshing. And I enjoyed how the romance wasn’t totally IN YOUR FACE, like you said. That happens in a lot of YA novels, so it was nice to see it handled a bit differently. It felt more natural to me.

  5. This one’s been on my list for awhile. Not sure when I’ll get to it, but thanks for the stellar review! 😀

  6. I liked this one! Maybe not as much as I had hoped and I wasn’t blown away by it, but I was really impressed that I was even enjoying a zombie novel. The ending was pretty thrilling and definitely left me terribly curious about book two!!

  7. I have always loved this cover, but never really decided to read the book. After reading your review, I’ll put it on my list. Thanks–I think…my list is soooo long!

  8. I read this book recently, too, and agree with your review. If someone says zombies are involved I have to read it. Dennard’s versin of the walking dead was interesting. Her characters were great, her dialogue, her world building, it was all just right. I’m really looking forward to the next book, I hear it’s set in Paris.

  9. Eep! I cannot wait to read this one. I’ve been meaning to read it since last year, but still haven’t gotten around to it. The setting, the characters and the zombies just sound like they combined to make something AWESOME.

  10. Ya know, historical/monster stories have a tendency to be a bit kitchy, but I’m really happy to hear that this one didn’t miss the mark. It sounds like there’s that perfect balance between authenticity and subtley, which, with this genre is really hard to perfect. Super excited to see how Dennard pulls it off!

  11. You’re right, this isn’t a kissing fest by any means but I WANT THERE TO BE ONE in the next! I found this pretty fun too and I can’t wait for the sequel.

  12. In fact, Eleanor doesn’t even like her love interest at first. OOOH YEAH, SLOW BURN. Also, I just want to be best friends with Eleanor. I feel like we could be kindred spirits.

    I need the next book!!!

  13. I honestly don’t think I’ve heard anything else about this book, but I don’t know if that’s just because I didn’t really read reviews of it because the cover is not my fave. When I saw that you reviewed it, I obviously had to see what you had to say. You’ve really made me interested in this one, April! I will probably get it from the library because I’m not 100% lover of the whole zombies thing… butttt if you liked it, I’m definitely interested. Great review lady!

  14. I really was not sure about this book, I am not a big zombie fan but the fact that Eleanor is strong, independent MC has me interested as well as the slow, subtle romance! Great review 🙂

  15. Wasn’t the ending awesome? It went where I didn’t think it would and gives the next book SO MUCH potential to be bleedin’ awesome. Awesome review, April.


  1. […] by Susan Dennard kicks off her Witchlands series which is quite a departure from Something Strange And Deadly and I am totally down with this. I mean, I enjoyed Something Strange And Deadly, however, […]

  2. […] pair and so compelling. ALSO what does not get as much attention but totally should are her Something Strange And Deadly books. These books star Eleanor and are set during the Reconstruction era. There’s zombies. […]