Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard


I chose to read this book because I wanted something to get me in the Halloween mood.  It definitely did that and more! In fact, I loved this book!

There’s something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia. . . .

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about.

Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she’s just read in the newspaper:

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor . . . from her brother.

Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she’ll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including the maddeningly stubborn yet handsome Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.

This book takes place in a Victorian era Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  However, this is not the Victorian era you learned about in history class.  In this alternate history Philadelphia, there are necromancers and Spirit Hunters and zombies, oh my!  Despite these differences, there are still recognizable landmarks that were actual places in the past, some of which are still around today.

I found this out by googling a couple of the locations, such as the Continental Hotel.  I found pictures and descriptions of the hotel and discovered that it was demolished in the 1920s.  I really liked how the author incorporated real places into her book.  It amazed me how much research she must have done!  Not only for the locations, but also for the fashions, events, and technology in this time period.

The author also included the year and month in which this book took place, which was really cool, in my opinion.  Not a lot of authors include this information when setting the scene and era.  I really like when authors do this, especially when the book takes place in the past.  It helps me ground myself in the era better, so I’m glad Ms. Dennard did this!

I think I’ve gushed enough about the setting, so let’s talk characters.  Eleanor Fitt is the main character in this book.  She was curious about everything and yet was cautious and sensible, for the most part.  I thought the author did a great job of making Eleanor old-fashioned enough that she fit in the Victorian setting, but also giving her enough modern sensibilities that readers in this day and age can relate to her.  For example, Eleanor worried about getting freckles from being in the sun too much, yet also enjoyed the freedom she had when she was unchaperoned.  It must have been hard to make Eleanor old-fashioned, yet relatable to modern readers, so kudos to Ms. Dennard!

There is a bit of romance in this story between Daniel, one of the Spirit Hunters, and Eleanor.  Theirs is a forbidden love since they’re from different societal classes.  Therefore, there isn’t much more than a few kisses shared between them.  I liked how minimal the romance was, though.  It didn’t overpower the main storyline, as some romances do, and just added a bit of zest to the story.

I really enjoyed Something Strange and Deadly!  It was filled with enough action (and zombies) and was fast-paced enough that I never felt even slightly bored.  I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone!  I give this book five stars!



“Miss Fitt, you know curiosity gets men killed.”

I grinned.

“Then I daresay it’s good I’m a woman.”

– Pg. 80


“You have the curiosity of a cat and the common sense of a goldfish.”

– Pgs. 119-120


How could I dream when I knew I could act instead?

– Pg. 238


It’s one thing to fear death, but it’s another to fear the Dead.

– Pg. 348

1 thought on “Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard”

  1. That sounds like a really interesting and awesome book, Saralisa! I’m glad you got a chance to read something for the Halloween season!


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