Thursday, August 14, 2014

Book Review: A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard

Title: A Darkness Strange and Lovely
Series: Something Strange and Deadly #2
Author: Susan Dennard
Published: 2013 by HarperTeen
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Synopsis: Perfect for fans of Libba Bray's The Diviners and Cassandra Clare's The Infernal Devices series, this spellbinding sequel to Something Strange and Deadly delivers a mix of supernatural forces and intense romance, set against the enchanting backdrop of nineteenth-century Paris.

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.

NOW THAT'S MORE LIKE IT! If you read my review of Something Strange and Deadly you know that I didn't enjoy it as much as I had hoped. Despite loving the characters and the world it was lacking on mystery and the plot didn't quite capture my interest. But A Darkness Strange and Lovely reminded me once again why I should never give up on a series after one book.

Once again I was completely loving the world that Susan Dennard had created. In Something Strange and Deadly the alternate history was established and now in A Darkness Strange and Lovely we can delve even deeper into that world. There wasn't as much history and historical references, though there were a few really interesting ones, plus things are made all the more amazing by bringing the characters to Paris, though we only get to explore a little bit of the City of Light. In this book most of the world-building we are immersed in is the fantasy elements of the story. In A Darkness Strange and Lovely we got to learn so much more about the magic at work, both the darker side of necromancy and the voodoo and more "white magic" that the Spirit-Hunters utilize. It was so fascinating and I loved every new detail we learned. It was also interesting watching Eleanor try and decide which path of magic she wanted to follow.

As for Eleanor, even she was less annoying in this book. In Something Strange and Deadly I was expecting a fearless female heroine fighting zombies and taking names. That is not what I got, so I went into this book expecting Eleanor to be just like she was in the previous book. However she must have had quite the awakening in the last book because in this book she is confident and following her own path, not just talking about it. She of course has her moments of self-doubt and poor decision-making but that just makes her all the more realistic.

On top of Eleanor getting better there were lots more complex and interesting secondary characters. The Spirit-Hunters are back, though not in as big a capacity. What this book really needed was more Daniel Sheridan! He didn't even come in until halfway through the book though by the end I was falling for him and swooning even more than I did in the last book. There were also some great new characters. I was worried about this Oliver mentioned in the synopsis because that sounds like love triangle to me, but it wasn't at all so fear not Daniel/Eleanor shippers! And Oliver was the kind of character that you want to know so much more about because not only is he extremely compelling but you can tell he has so many secrets. Same with Laure and many other secondary characters, full of secrets!

And the plot too was full of secrets. When it began it took a little while for things to get really interesting for me. Just like last time there was tons of action and adventure but I once again thought I had it all figured out. The mystery of the story seemed so obvious to me and I was convinced that once again I was going to be annoyed. Then halfway through I realized that what I immediately assumed was totally a red herring. I quickly changed my theory and was pleasantly surprised to find out that I eventually figured it all out but not until much later in the story than the last time. This ended up being the kind of mystery that I like where there are clues along the way that helps you figure it out and you solve it slowly along with the characters.

This was the book I was hoping for the first time around. I now see why everyone loves this series. It was an interesting and entertaining Historical Fantasy with a fascinating world, compelling characters, and a solvable mystery that kept you reading until the last page. And when I hit that last page I surprised myself by thinking, "THAT WAS FANTASTIC!"

I give A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard a 9 out of 10

Have you read A Darkness Strange and Lovely? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and of course HAPPY READING!


  1. OOoh nice review! Glad to see this one was better for you! I just ordered this and the final book this morning! So they should arrive next week! Excited to read them now for myself!

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