A Darkness Strange and Lovely (Something Strange and Deadly #2)
By Susan Dennard
Published July 23rd, 2013
Young Adult | Historical | Fantasy | Steampunk
About the book:
With her brother dead and her mother insane, Eleanor Fitt is alone. Even the Spirit-Hunters—Joseph, Jie, and the handsome Daniel—have fled to Paris. So when Eleanor hears the vicious barking of hounds and sees haunting yellow eyes, she fears that the Dead, and the necromancer Marcus, are after her.
To escape, Eleanor boards a steamer bound for France. There she meets Oliver, a young man who claims to have known her brother. But Oliver harbors a dangerous secret involving necromancy and black magic that entices Eleanor beyond words. If she can resist him, she’ll be fine. But when she arrives in Paris, she finds that the Dead have taken over, and there’s a whole new evil lurking. And she is forced to make a deadly decision that will go against everything the Spirit-Hunters stand for.
In Paris, there’s a price for this darkness strange and lovely, and it may have Eleanor paying with her life.
[note note_color=”#D3BDAF”]Mostly spoiler-free review if you haven’t read the first book in the series :)[/note]
I absolutely adore this series. Okay, I might be a wee bit biased because Susan Dennard is one of the coolest authors in the entire world. I’ve met and chatted with her and she is so incredibly down to earth normal it’s sick. And is she adorable or what?! Yeah, yeah, she’s a Michigan author, what are you going to do about it? Let me spew her greatness for a few sentences and I’ll get to the review eventually…
All my gushing aside, this young adult historical paranormal series is exceptional. And for a second book, A Darkness Strange and Lovely held it’s own with the other two books of the trilogy and kept me engaged the entire way through. Part action, part mystery, some steampunk, and sprinkled with romance, this story has a whole ton of necromancing merrymaking and it’s fun ride!
When Something Strange and Deadly ended, the Spirit Hunters left town and left Eleanor to deal with her mentally ill mother and cope with the other fall out from what occurred in the first book. She’s on her own and demonstrating how much she’s grown up in the few months since the first book. When Eleanor starts to think that the evil spirit Marcus is coming after her, she gets her affairs in order and takes a steamer to Paris to find the Spirit Hunters and ask for their help. Along the way, danger follows her in the form of howling winds that are actually hellhounds set on taking her. She also meets Oliver (Ollie), her brother’s former (?) best friend. Torn between needing his help, wanting to learn more about her burgeoning powers, learning about her brother, but not knowing whether to trust this virtual stranger, she befriends Oliver in the end.
Oliver is absolutely THE best character of the series. I mean, Eleanor is complex in her own ways, duh. She has to be to carry the entire series as the protagonist. But Oliver’s characterization is off the charts! I wish I could tell you more about him but his personality fits him perfectly and I’m absolutely, positively 100% in love with him. If I could wrap him up in a hug I would, although I’m still not sure if he would like or want that…
Eleanor is even better this time around. She has more spunk, more personality, and is in more trouble than ever. She’s absolutely stuck between a rock and hard place, having to use her “dark” magic to survive in some way, every day. But as the story progresses, you see the cost of her struggle between using her natural magic and not using it, both to her psyche and her relationships.
Unfortunately, the Spirit Hunters don’t show up in the story until over halfway through the story. Oh, but when Daniel shows up… holy mother effin’ swoon! Yes, I did just cuss up a storm (sort of). I’m pretty much reiterating Eleanor’s thoughts, too. She was both happy and MAD AS HELL to see Daniel so my verbiage is quite spot on 😉
I fell in love with the historical accuracy of this and the first book and was blown away by the depth and complexity of this story. The overall mystery of this story held some surprise plot twists as well as a complete and utter “OH CRAP, It’s a cliffhanger” ending. But I think we kind of knew going into this that the next book is the final book so there had to be some huge opening left to fill to get us to Strange and Ever After.
At 406 pages, I didn’t even notice this book was on the longer side for me. I got so wrapped up in the action of howling dogs chasing after our heroine, the undead rising (even by accident – oops!), and the drama of Eleanor’s friends finding out she’s using dark magic that I didn’t realize the book was almost over until I got there. Now that’s a great book in my opinion!
On Monday I’ll have my review of the final book in the series, Strange and Ever After.
About the author:
Susan Dennard is a reader, writer, lover of animals, and eater of cookies. She used to be a marine biologist, but now she writes novels–and not novels about fish, but novels about kick-butt heroines and swoon-worthy rogues. She lives in the Midwestern US with her French husband and Irish setter, and you can learn more about her crazy thoughts and crippling cookie-addiction on her blog, twitter, facebook, or pinterest. Her debut, Something Strange and Deadly, as well as the prequel, A Dawn Most Wicked, and the sequel, A Darkness Strange and Lovely, are now available from HarperTeen! The final installment in the series, Strange and Ever After, will release 7/22/14, and her new series will launch with Tor in fall 2015.
Other books in the series: