{Kat's Korner} Reviewing A DARKNESS STRANGE AND LOVELY by Susan Dennard

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Hey hey readers! Today is a day I've been waiting for a little while now, because I'll be covering Susan Dennard's A DARKNESS STRANGE AND LOVELY, the second in the SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY trilogy. I can't wait to gush about this, because it'll bring me one step closer to being able to review STRANGE AND EVER AFTER, a title that I can barely contain myself over. I still have to wait until the end of summer to talk about it, but even talking about the trilogy at all helps. So many feels!

This is a trilogy graced with covers dark and lovely. Just look at that dress! I'm no girly-girl, but I would rock that if I ever had a reason to. That aside, believe it or not, this cover really says a lot about the content of this book. (You have to read it, of course, to connect the dots.) So I really can't say much other than the fact that I love this cover. The one detail that I really, really flail over every time I look at this (so much so that I'm going to talk about it!) is that Eleanor's right hand is out of sight. All I'm going to say about that, for those of you who haven't read these glittering and delicious novels yet, is that it's a detail that is not at all a coincidence. Eleanor's right hand is not a thing to overlook at all. ;)

Moving past the very well thought-out and executed cover, the jacket reads as follows:

"Darkness has come to the City of Light. . . .

With her brother dead and her mother on the verge of insanity, Eleanor Fitt is utterly alone. Even the Spirit-Hunters—Joseph, Jie, and the handsome, enigmatic Daniel—have fled to Paris. So when Eleanor begins to hear the vicious barking of hounds and see images of haunting yellow eyes, she fears the worst—that the Dead, and the necromancer Marcus, are coming for her.
To escape and search out the Spirit-Hunters, Eleanor boards a steamer bound for France. There she meets Oliver, a young man who claims to have known her brother. Though friendly, Oliver entices Eleanor with necromancy and black magic, yet as long as she can resist his powerful temptation, she'll be fine. But when she arrives in Paris, she finds that the Dead have taken over the city . . . and there's a whole new evil lurking. With the body count rising, Eleanor 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.
In this spellbinding sequel to Something Strange and Deadly, Susan Dennard delivers a thrilling mix of intrigue, romance, and revenge, all set against the wonderfully enchanting backdrop of nineteenth-century Paris"

There is no lack of intensity in this short summary, and there definitely isn't in the actual story, either. Dennard makes a quick read out of this middle book by keeping the pressure on our heroes and the plot thickening.

She brings us back to Eleanor a few months after the end of SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY, her world completely turned upside-down. Rather than having to stay and manage her household, she must flee from it - the necromancer Marcus pursues her and the Spirit Hunters after all of the craziness that went down in Laurel Hill Cemetery. Yet the Spirit Hunters left immediately at the end of SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY, for reasons I dare not spoil. (Go read it, it's so good!) So Eleanor must catch up to them... in Paris.

Paris! Eleanor has always wanted to travel, though not necessarily under dangerous circumstances like these. Along the way, she meets a man named Oliver, who has certain interesting ties to her brother. Oliver is an interesting character who brings a whole new voice and depth to this trilogy that I adore. For those of you who are fans of the CW's tv series Supernatural, you might find Oliver's character to be elements of certain beings of that series, blended wonderfully into Dennard's 19th century world. To be clear, I'm not saying that Dennard took things from Supernatural and used them as her own. What I am saying is that I find certain aspects of Oliver and his history to have the feel of some characters from Supernatural that I find makes his contribution to the story fantastic and refreshing to the story line.

Onward to Paris with Oliver, to find Jie, Joseph, and Daniel! How romantic- oh no. No, it's not. Eleanor finds the Spirit Hunters neck deep in the Dead and politics yet again. However, this time, public affairs are getting in the way of the Spirit Hunters doing any real work. Well, at least the public officials here are giving them proper funding and housing. This was a fun new situation to read, as it is the complete opposite from the Spirit Hunters' "accommodations" in Philadelphia. One thing is made very clear - this time, something weirder than a necromancer is behind the dead. But as much as they'd rather be out working on the problem, the Spirit Hunters are sucked into the lap of political luxury and trapped there. Could be worse.

As excited as she is to be reunited with her friends, Eleanor has a few dark and strange new secrets of her own. Secrets that she isn't sure she wants to share with Joseph, Jie, and Daniel. Eleanor feels as though she can only share them with Oliver, the man she only just met. (Oooo~!) What are these secrets? I'll never tell. But those secrets make those nice political comforts get a little messy. Could be worse indeed; Eleanor unfortunately makes it so.

Eleanor's secrets might be the only thing that can stop the Dead in Paris. But they might end up taking Eleanor's life in the process. Will she tell the others? Can they find a way around it? Will they keep their friendship? Will Marcus come to Paris and make things worse? And who is Oliver, exactly? All of these questions and more are answers in a most spectacular manner by the end of this novel.

All in all, I am enchanted by this trilogy. As good as SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY was, A DARKNESS STRANGE AND LOVELY raises the bar even higher for this genre. If you like magic, spirits, zombies, and other things supernatural, I high recommend these, because Dennard keeps you guessing and exclaiming nonsense syllables. Eleanor is a fabulous leading lady - she is so modern and fierce for the time setting of the story, and in A DARKNESS STRANGE AND LOVELY, she is tested and found to be oh so human. Dennard did a wonderful job keeping her so real. And the Spirit Hunters not only befriend Eleanor, they befriend you as you read. And the antagonists? They are as diabolical as the Spirit Hunters are lovable. For me, this trilogy is over, as I was lucky enough to have access to an ARC of STRANGE AND EVER AFTER, and all I can say right now is that I am blown away. Don't miss out on these - make them a priority!

That's all for now. Happy reading, and I will return soon enough with talk of mythical creatures. I'll confess I've been on a bit of a dragon trend this past month. See you next time! :)

*This review is an HONEST representation of my personal thoughts and feelings of this work. A DARKNESS STRANGE AND LOVELY was purchased by me, and this review was not prompted nor paid for by any individual or group.

O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Susan Dennard
Release Date: July 23, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Received: Purchased

Following an all-out battle with the walking Dead, the Spirit Hunters have fled Philadelphia, leaving Eleanor alone to cope with the devastating aftermath. But there’s more trouble ahead—the evil necromancer Marcus has returned, and his diabolical advances have Eleanor escaping to Paris to seek the help of Joseph, Jie, and the infuriatingly handsome Daniel once again. When she arrives, however, she finds a whole new darkness lurking in this City of Light. As harrowing events unfold, Eleanor is forced to make a deadly decision that will mean life or death for everyone.

The epic meeting of the two Kats!
Kat Meets Kat Zhang (And Susan Dennard,
Sarah J. Maas, and Erin Bowman!) at YAGB!
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to feel like you were there with Kat, Bonnie, and the authors!