Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Book Review: Strange and Ever After by Susan Dennard

Title: Strange and Ever After
Series: Something Strange and Deadly #3
Author: Susan Dennard
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Synopsis: Perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare's The Infernal Devices series, this is the epic conclusion to Susan Dennard's trilogy that started with Something Strange and Deadly and continued with A Darkness Strange and Lovely. With supernatural forces, epic romance, and a mysterious Egyptian city, Eleanor and her team are set for an adventure they will never forget.

It has been a tumultuous time for Eleanor Fitt since life as she knew it in Philadelphia came abruptly to an end. While the Spirit-Hunters—Joseph, Jie, and Daniel—have helped her survive her brother's violent death and an invasion of Hungry Dead, Eleanor has lost just about everything.

And now, Jie is missing—taken by the evil necromancer Marcus. Eleanor is determined not only to get her back but to finally end this nightmare. But to do so, she must navigate the hot desert streets of nineteenth-century Egypt amid the rising Dead, her unresolved feelings for Daniel, and her volatile relationships with Joseph and Oliver, her demon. And it won't be easy. Because Allison, her friend from Philadelphia, has tagged along, becoming strangely entangled in Eleanor's mission.

It will take all of Eleanor's powers of black magic, and all of Daniel's and Joseph's trust, to succeed. But there will be a price. People will have to suffer the consequences of what Marcus has done, and what Eleanor, Oliver, and the Spirit-Hunters will do to stop all this deadly chaos.

For me this series is like a fine wine, it gets better with age. And while that is kind of a terrible analogy the sentiment is true, this series has gotten better and better with each passing book. The first book in the series I was emotionally distant from, I loved the world but found the plot lacking. The second book in the series was much improved with an even more interesting world and an interesting plot. This final book in the trilogy however was non-stop adventure full of thrills and feels.

My favorite part about this series is the world. Susan Dennard has created both an interesting and unique world that captures not only the historical setting but a fantastical and magical system within it. The magical system in this series has been becoming larger and more complex as the series goes on. In Strange and Ever After, there is no debate about whether and how Eleanor will be using her powers and she has gotten incredibly strong with them. But even better than that was the involvement of mythology in this book. Each book of the series takes the reader to a different and interesting locale. In Strange and Ever After it's Egypt. You can't explore Egypt without exploring the pyramids and with that comes the exploration of Ancient Egypt and it's religious and cultural aspects. Susan Dennard effortlessly balanced the history and mythology to craft an engaging and creative story that I just loved!

But just as good as the world is the characters. Eleanor has grown on me exponentially as this series has developed. In the first book I was not at all impressed with her and her lack of understanding. Then in the second book she grew on me as she explored her personal magic and the internal conflict that came with it. In Strange and Ever After she continues that character arc and becomes a strong female protagonist. There is no longer a debate about if and how she is going to use her magic. She is a full-fledged necromancer now, but she is still using her powers for good instead of evil. But still there is a lot for Eleanor to learn and I have enjoyed watching her Hero's Journey. She's become quite a favorite character and compelling characters.

Along with Eleanor there are those favorite secondary characters, most notably the Spirit-Hunters. The last book needed much more Daniel Sheridan but not Strange and Ever After. There was a lot of Daniel in this book and he was completely wonderful. His intelligence, selflessness, and kind heart make him not only a fantastic romantic lead but a character that I can't help but root for. There are absolutely wonderful swoonworthy moments in this book as far as Daniel is concerned. Jie is also back being kickass and tough but she's also had a great arc throughout the series. Joseph is back being not only the leader but conscience of the group. But the big surprise in this book was Oliver. He wasn't the petulant magic-hungry dubious sort of character that he was in A Darkness Strange and Lovely. He ended up being just as much the voice of reason as Joseph at times and I loved the development of his relationship with Eleanor. He had a great character arc throughout the series and ended up surprising me a little bit with his choices. Susan Dennard did a brilliant job in Strange and Ever After creating interesting and complex characters that you can't help but love and want to see succeed.

Although I do have to say, with those feelings of love and want for success comes some feels. This is the final book in a trilogy and after so much time being immersed in the world of these characters one can't help but become attached. And not all characters get that happy ending. Be prepared for the feels, this book is full of them. It's a glass case of emotions both good and bad. This book made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me swoon, and it made me think. Like all good books it made feel things that I didn't want to feel.

What I think really solidified my enjoyment of this book was it's plot and pacing which also keeps getting better with each passing book. Strange and Ever After is full of action and adventure. It starts out with a bang and the thrilling moments of the book don't stop until the very end. This book is the exact definition of a page-turner. Things built to a thrilling conclusion and I was hooked on it for every second. In the first book the mystery was predictable, in the second book the mystery was solvable, and in this book there wasn't much mystery and still I was shocked by more than one twist. Like most good fantasy small things from previous books make a big difference in this book. Things really come full circle to create an exciting and interesting conclusion to a series that I really ended up enjoying.

I give Strange and Ever After a 9 out of 10

I recommend this series to fans of Young Adult Historical Fiction or Fantasy. If you're looking for a series with interesting and likable characters in complex situations than check this out. And if like me you don't fall in love with the first book, keep at it, it gets better.

Have you read Strange and Ever After? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!


  1. Ooohhh you see you got me scared again! I'm in the midst of finishing this one, hoping to do so this afternoon with a review to follow. Have less than 100 pages to go! And let me tell you my heart has been racing nearly the entire time! Form the talks on twitter yesterday I have been anxious and now that I am in the home stretch, that has not changed! Eep! So scared and yet excited, but mostly scared! ;)

    Great review! Cannot wait to finish this one! Gotta make my "internet" break a quick one!

    1. It is full of feels, that much is true, but it is absolutely worth the read and the perfect conclusion for the series! I am anxiously awaiting your review! Have you posted it yet? ***Runs to your blog to check***