September 6, 2013

REVIEW: A Darkness Strange and Lovely (Something Strange and Deadly #2)

A Darkness Strange and Lovely (Something Strange and Deadly #2), by Susan Dennard
Published July 23, 2013
Publisher:  HarperTeen
Format: ARC, received in trade
Genre:  young adult paranormal romance
To Buy: Amazon  * Barnes & Noble

Rating:  4 STARS

(From Goodreads) Following an all-out battle with the walking Dead, the Spirit Hunters have fled Philadelphia, leaving Eleanor alone to cope with the devastating aftermath. But there’s more trouble ahead—the evil necromancer Marcus has returned, and his diabolical advances have Eleanor escaping to Paris to seek the help of Joseph, Jie, and the infuriatingly handsome Daniel once again. When she arrives, however, she finds a whole new darkness lurking in this City of Light. As harrowing events unfold, Eleanor is forced to make a deadly decision that will mean life or death for everyone.

 The Dead are back! A Darkness Strange and Lovely was full of more zombie goodness and even a little magic, demons and steampunk. If you love paranormal even a little, you have to admit that sounds awesome, right? 

Eleanor has hit rock bottom in Philly after the epic battle at the end of Something Strange and Deadly. She gets evidence that Marcus - the big bad - is back, so she hops a ship bound for France to hook back up with the Spirit Hunters. On the way there, she meets Oliver, a mysterious friend of her brother's. Once in France, Eleanor finds that it's not as easy as she thought to just pick up where things were left. Things are weird with Daniel, Oliver's presence only complicates things, and her own necromancer abilities are rising to the surface whether she wants them to or not. 

I loved seeing how much Eleanor has changed since the beginning of Something Strange and Deadly. She's shirked the corsets, willingly taken up with the riff-raff and embraced her own magical abilities, station and sex be damned. In that respect, I say, "You go girl!" I wish she would've transferred some of that enthusiasm to her relationship with Daniel. She can admit that she loves him to herself, but she can't admit it to him. Not only that, but she can't even bring herself to break down the rest of her walls of propriety to even act like she likes him. That was one of the most infuriating parts of this book.  

Oliver was a really interesting new character to the story. He brings a lot of humor to an otherwise humorless situation. He also bring a lot more angst as he tries to pull Eleanor in a direction that is opposite from where she would normally go. He tries to encourage her to develop her powers, while the Spirit-Hunters are trying to convince her to NOT use them. There are still many facets of Oliver that we haven't seen yet, and I'm looking forward to exploring them further.

A Darkness Strange and Lovely was much more action-packed than the first book in the series. While there is the fight against the Dead, there is also a search for the necromancer in France and trying to find out the motives behind the attacks this time around. The mystery was exciting and even more curious this time around. I liked it better, actually. 

Susan Dennard has set up an epic final battle in Egypt, as well as an unfulfilled love story and a good friend in mortal peril. The path to get there has been amazingly exciting so far - I can't wait to see how it all turns out.

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