Thursday, October 22, 2015

Discussion: Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

I'm participating in the Something Strange and Deadly readalong, hosted by Stephanie Kaye & the Waterwitch Babes over at Steph in Wonderland. (Incidentally, Stephanie Kaye & the Waterwitch Babes would be an AMAZING band name, don't you think?) We're about halfway through the book, but it's not too late to join & catch up – I read the whole thing in about 3 days and have already started the next book in the series, A Darkness Strange and Lovely.

First off, let me just say this – Something Strange and Deadly is such a fun, spooky read for fall: paranormal and a little bit dark and filled with characters who manage to shirk my expectations of who they're supposed to be. The story is narrated by Eleanor Fitt, of the Philadelphia Fitts, which I think just means she descends from wealth and privilege. Over the course of the novel, Eleanor surprises me with her fire. That's not to say there aren't moments when she's wholly exasperating, but I like her feminism and how she's always pushing the edges of what's socially acceptable in the late 1870s.

Of all the characters, I think I am most intrigued by Daniel Sheridan, one of the Spirit-Hunters and a researcher of all things paranormal. He's cranky and funny and kind, and I love the way he interacts with Eleanor, both of them stubborn and awkward and passionate and sassy and set on protecting the people they love. They have such an interesting dynamic – soft moments and silly moments and salty moments that are just so entertaining to read.

"Don't think I'll look after you, though – the world would be better off with one less princess."
"I'm not a princess," I huffed, beating my brain for some worthy retort.
"A queen then?"
"No! That's not what I meant –"
"Oh, an empress. I see. Pardon me, Your Majesty."

I'm less excited about the remaining Spirit-Hunters. Joseph Boyer is the head of the group; I like that he's a POC character and that he's arguably the most proper of all of them – intelligent, composed, gentlemanly – but unfortunately he just doesn't make much of an impression upon me. The story moves so quickly that he just doesn't get that much facetime or character development.

As for Jie, my thoughts are still up in the air. I like the idea of her – a Chinese girl who is holding her own in a society where she's an outsider on so many levels – and I think there's a lot more to her story. I'm hoping we get to explore that more over the course of the next few books in the series.

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