Thursday, July 25, 2013

Review: A Darkness Strange and Lovely

A DARKNESS STRANGE AND LOVELY
Something Strange and Deadly #2
Susan Dennard
Paranormal Young Adult
406 pages
HarperTeen
Available now
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Amazon)
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 see 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.

MY THOUGHTS
A Darkness Strange and Lovely picks up a few months after the events of Something Strange and Deadly, the title aptly suggesting we'll find life for Eleanor a bit darker than it was previously. Our hearts instantly go out to her as her loneliness wraps around our necks with all the comfort of a garrote wire, slowly biting into our skin as the weight of death, loss and guilt continues to press in. Ms. Dennard does a beautiful job of reminding us exactly what happened to Eleanor and the Spirit Hunters at the end of the last book, thankfully not leaving us floundering as we struggle to remember, but also not simply dropping a summary of book one in our laps either. Instead she easily integrates a few clues to spark our memories here and there in the opening chapters before whisking us away to begin the grittier second leg of Eleanor's journey with the Dead.

Eleanor is a changed young woman from the girl we met initially in book one, a bit beaten down by the rather horrific past few months and the lingering whispers and rumors she encounters on a daily basis as Philadelphia society thrives on her misfortune, but she never wallows or pities herself, always moving one foot in front of the other even if the direction those steps take her is not necessarily one we want to see her travel. Forced to explore the ins and outs of necromancy thanks to an exceedingly powerful villain who simply cannot let her be, we find ourselves unable to look away as Eleanor embraces that which destroyed her brother, a myriad of interesting questions raised as we watch her dabble in what we previously understood to be dangerous and evil. It's unclear to us as she wades further and further into the murky waters of necromancy whether it's the type of absolute power that corrupts absolutely, or if perhaps the black and white view of the Spirit Hunters is in fact a bit more gray, leaving us morbidly fascinated and hoping Eleanor remains as strong through this latest trial as she has been thus far.

While questions as to the ramifications of Eleanor's newfound talent with necromancy keep our minds alert and invested, her complicated relationship with Daniel ensures our hearts are equally involved. Though they are not reunited for some time in this second installment, the tension between them when they finally come face to face again is palpable, her hurt and confusion as to his blunt admission at the end of book one seeming to rise to the surface of the pages and reverberate straight through us. Their romance continues to stutter, every step they take forward quickly followed by several steps back, but it's not in the irritating way of so many sequels where one person tries to the push the other away in order to protect them, rather all the things they need to say to one another as well as the complications of her necromancy form a labyrinth they both struggle to find their way through.

Overall A Darkness Strange and Lovely is a solid second installment, moving things forward both physically and emotionally for Eleanor while setting us up for a much larger showdown in the next book. The smaller villain and the case of the Dead in Paris is solved, leaving us satisfied that we didn't invest all our time in these four hundred pages just to be left hanging, but it's also abundantly clear that even bigger and badder things are on their way, hungrier and deadlier than anything we've seen thus far.

Rating: 4/5

If you haven't already, be sure and check out my interview with Daniel, and enter to win some fantastic prizes!

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This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

38 comments:

  1. Yay! You don't even know how relieved I am to hear that she doesn't wallow in pity for her circumstances and that this is a solid second book. You just never know with sequels. I am so excited to start this one, now I just need to find the time!
    Perfect review!

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    1. No wallowing for Eleanor! This felt like a middle book in that we know bigger things are coming than what we're currently dealing with, but lots happened to move things forward and there was no cliffhanger:)

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  2. I still haven't read the first book, but I see so many people being excited about this series. And I also remembered the super cool interview with Daniel you had!

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    1. I think you'd enjoy this series Danny! And you do need to meet Daniel:)

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  3. Nice! I think I had forgotten a bit about the first book over the year, but reviews like yours are reminding me what I may be missing out on by not paying any attention to this series. It sounds like there's a lot to like here! And I'm glad that this also sounds like a satisfying sequel; I'm glad the romance didn't fall into the familiar second book trope of pushing each other away - so annoying. Thanks for reminding me that I should be looking into this series, Jenny! Really great review.

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    1. Yes, the pushing away to "protect" the other person is super annoying, but that doesn't happen here which I was super thankful for. They had valid reasons for not being together, and there was just so much tension because of it:)

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  4. I remember you said that the zombies were not a focus in this book and that bit makes me so happy. I'm definitely going to add it to my tbr now that the sequel is a hit as well. Great review, Jenny! Though I have to say that I'm not a fan of "one step forward, two step back"romance, but I'm glad that you won't too bothered by it.

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    1. The zombies are more a background element in this series. You hear of them throughout and there's a showdown at the end of both books where they're front and center, but it's not overly grotesque or gory which works perfectly for me!

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  5. Right, I remember book 1 and it seemed good. But I read an adult book by her and it was rather meh

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    1. I'm not sure she's written any adult books? Book one in this series was her debut, and I think she's just written these two and then a short novella set in this same world. I could be wrong though!

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  6. I like a character who doesn't wallow in pity and sadness and picks oneself up and moves on. I'd definitely have a love relationship with Eleanor rather than a hate one. I'm glad ypu enjoyed it! Zombies creep me out, but I prefer them in books over TV. They're also pretty kick-a. If they're not trying to eat your head lol. The relationship between her and Daniel seems complicated, but so emotional and thrilling. I want my hands on book 1! You, Nick and Susan really sold this series to me:)

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    1. Zombies creep me out too Siiri, but I can handle them in this series:) Hope you start these books soon, I can't wait to see what you think!

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  7. I still haven't read the fist book in this series but I can't wait to get to it. I love it when I see the characters change and grow it's like I'm changing with them. Great review Jenny :)

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    1. Yes! I adore Eleanor, and there's lots of growth in this book, though some of it is in a direction I might not have chosen for her. It seems necessary though, so I'm curious to see where it goes:)

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  8. Jenny, I'm so excited to rea this one and thrilled you enjoyed it! I love Daniel and Eleanor so I'm looking forward to seeing their romance progress and I especially love the overall plot of these stories, so I can't wait for my copy to get in! Lovely review, dear!(:

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    1. Hope you love it Keertana! I thought it was a great sequel that explored a lot of new things we didn't see in book one.

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  9. I love that it sounds like there is a fitting conclusion, but we're offered a taste of nastier things to come! That's effective foreboding in a nutshell. I haven't started this series, but I'm really intrigued - especially because you enjoy it. Great review! :)

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    1. Yes! It was so nice not to reach the end and find a cliffhanger, and she built up enough of the next book that there's no way I'll miss out on it. No cliffhanger needed!

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  10. I got book 1 at BEA this year, and now I really want to read this series. I love historical fiction, but I've yet to find a paranormal historical fiction I can love to pieces. Perhaps this is that book?

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    1. I recommend this one Hannah, and we're usually on the same page with books, so I *think* you'll like it. You'll have to let me know if you pick it up!

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  11. My copy of this book just arrived and OMG, I'm dying of excitement to read this, Jenny! Your review just got me even more excited!
    I've always loved Eleanor, but I feel like I'm going to love her even more, especially since she doesn't wallow in self-pity. She seems to be even stronger in this sequel. I also cannot wait to meet Daniel, the rascal, again. Their relationship sounds complicated but realistic.
    Fabulous review, Jenny! :)

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    1. SO EXCITED FOR YOU TO READ THIS NICK! We'll need to compare notes when you finish:)

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  12. I enjoyed the first one of the series -- it was a different pace from other books I've read. Plus, I liked Elanor, how she wasn't willing to back down, even though what she was doing was "unladylike". Looking forward to seeing how she develops -- and how her romance with Daniel is progressing!

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  13. I've seen this series around, but haven't picked it up. Should I fix that??

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  14. Jenny, I have too many books on my pile and this is one of them. I will make a point to get to it soon since I know I love these types of stories.

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  15. I have the first book on my pile to read and I've been really excited to pick it up. I'm glad you really enjoyed the 2nd one. I only skimmed your review since I'm really hoping the read the first one soon. :)

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  16. I'm glad to hear that you get resolution on the smaller villain in this book, it would really suck if this was all just buildup to book three! While I might hope for more romantic payoff, I'm willing to read and be patient through book three. :-) Lovely review Jenny!

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  17. Beautiful review! I love that you were able to immensely enjoy this book and that the plot of the first book was gently incorporated into this book. I like books that explore the gray of life and the magic of seeing ghosts. I hope to read this and the first book someday.

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  18. I just skimmed this one because I haven't read the first one yet and don't want to know anything that happens in it. I am so happy to see that the series is continuing to be strong for you, Jenny! Great to see that these ones aren't just pretty covers :)

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  19. These book covers lately crack me up....a terrible darkness that surrounds swanky girls in dresses!! Sign me up!! Great review Jenny- I fail at reading lately, the first book in this series has been on my TBR for a year!!

    Tina~

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  20. I really liked Eleanor's feistness and spunk in the first book and I am happy to hear that she maintains her attitude. I am so looking forward to this one. Yeah for a solid sequel~

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  21. I swear you need to write your own book. How else could a garrote wire sound so awesomely perfect for your description of her plight? I've wanted to read this one since the first one came out and I now need this one. See what you do to me?

    Jenny write that book!

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  22. I still need to read the first book in this series. I'd forgotten about it. Good thing about your review for this one - put it back in my mind.

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  23. I didn't read this since I have yet to read the first book, but the fact that you like it so much speaks volumes. I'm assuming there's no love triangle in here? I may wait until they all release, but I definitely have it on my radar.

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  24. I really enjoyed the first one and was a little shocked by the ending events. I'm glad the romance isn't too frustrating, and that this is disappointing as a sequel. Wonderful review, Jenny! I'll have to pick this up soon. :)

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  25. Squee..i enjoyed book one so I and am so glad you liked this..because it means I will. Wonderful review!

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  26. I am SO worried about the romance (it was probably the part I was most in love with in the first book), but I'm glad to hear it had you invested. My copy of this just arrived so I should be reading it soon, and I really can't wait. Fantastic review, Jenny! :)

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  27. I'm really glad that we'll finally get to explore necromancy a bit more in this one, Jenny, and I like that it's hard for everybody to figure out whether it's something terrible in and of itself or whether it can be used for good. Looking forward to reading this one!

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