A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Pages: 408

Series: Something Strange and Deadly, Book 2

Genres: Young Adult, Steampunk, Zombies, Paranormal, Historical Fiction, Romance, Horror, Supernatural

Publication date: July 23rd, 2013


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.


When Jie’s letter came in the mail, I was so elated I forgot I had no hand.

“Oh, thank heavens!” I cried, reaching for the battered envelope in the postman’s grasp. “I’ve been waiting for this for over a…” I trailed off. My eyes locked on the postman’s horrified dace – and his eyes locked on my wrist.

Yet it was not the poor quality of my gray gown’s lace sleeve that prompted his expression but rather the bandaged stump poking out from beneath.

I yanked back my wrist, and the postman’s face erupted in red. “P-pardon me, Miss.” He thrust the letter at me.

“Of course,” I squeaked, snatching the letter with my left hand. Then I bolted from the post office into the Philadelphia morning.

Chapter One


I’m shocked that it took me as long as it did to read this story. I absolutely adored the first book in this series and was certain I’d pick the next one up almost right away. Yet it was almost a year later that I ended up picking this story up.

Dennard does an amazing job at making her characters feel real, of making the world jump off the page and come to life. This story takes place primarily in Paris, which is a huge shift from the first book. And Dennard does an absolutely fantastic job of making it feel like I’ve stumbled my way into Paris. I applaud her ability to make any setting feel like real life.

I also really enjoy the way Dennard continues to tease out the mechanics of the magic and necromancy of this world. Eleanor didn’t know anything about these things before this story began and I, for one, enjoy getting to learn about the world along with her. Of course it leads to mistake after mistake – many of which could have been avoided if only she had a little more care and caution – but that just makes the read even more enjoyable.

It seems that the further Eleanor goes into this darker side of her world, the less of the original, naïve girl she used to be exists. Of course that’s at least partially a good thing. There’s no way she would have survived the events in the first book if she hadn’t given up at least some of her naivety. Yet some of the decision she makes in the story show that she gave up more of herself than she might have meant to.

While I can enjoy a romance heavy story just as much as anyone, I liked the fact that this story was more personal character growth driven than romance based. Every moment between Eleanor and Daniel remains precious to me – and I would have love more of the two of them together – but this story wouldn’t have been the same if it had a heavier romance element to it.

Eleanor is discovering who she is as an individual – something society didn’t want her to ever find. Not to mention the fact that she’s tryin to understand the world that her brother had secretly been living in. Eleanor might not have liked what her brother was doing, but that doesn’t stop her from wanting the power and control for herself. Now she’s just got to try and remain herself – her true self – as she struggles to find balance.



*Spoilers ahead*

My favourite part of this story might just be Ollie. I didn’t expect to love him, yet I do. I love how unpredictably predictable he ends up being. I love how loyal and trusting he is – even if he won’t admit it to himself. I love how raw his emotions are, what he’s willing to do for those he cares about.

Oliver is definitely a character that carries secrets. I can’t wait to read more about him, to discover what else is going on in that mystical mind of his. What secrets of his will be uncovered before the end of this story? How far will he be willing to go to do what needs to be done?

Eleanor wasn’t the nicest person in the world to him during this story, so it shows he’s willing to go through a lot of hassle for those he cares about. Sure he might be a demon, but that doesn’t mean he lacks feelings of his own. He might not be the nicest creature of all time, but he’s certainly not the worst. A lot of humans are worse than Oliver is – both in this story and the real world.

The introduction of Oliver showed me, yet again, how amazing Dennard is at creating a luscious world and an incredible depth of character.

Yet the fighting/miscommunications between Daniel, Joseph, and Eleanor was a very cliched plot line. Of course none of them were fully in the right here, but they all took it a lot further than they needed to – in my opinion, at least. This argument didn’t need to be the end all, be all that the characters made it seem. If only they had tried talking to each other, it might not have gotten as bad as it did.

Well, maybe less talking and more listening to each other. You know, listen to the other person’s side and not just getting angry the second they don’t agree with your point. Honestly, a lot of people could learn to do more of this.

In the first book, I grew to love the Spirit Hunters immensely. Because of that, I’d hoped they’d play a bigger role in this story than they had. I understand that this story’s focus was more about Eleanor’s character growth and the world building of the magic system, but I still missed them. So many of the scenes with the Spirit Hunters involved awful miscommunication and anger which, while warranted, detracted from the ease in which the group worked together in the first book.

Then we have Marcus. Marcus is most certainly still after Eleanor, but I figured he’d play a bigger role in her story than he did. Of course he’s an ever looming threat in the background, and even makes an appearance a couple of times, but he didn’t make as big of an impact on the story as I’d expected he would.

All of that being said, I look forward to picking up Strange and Ever After and finishing this story. I look forward to seeing Eleanor and Daniels’s will they/won’t they romance become stronger than ever. I look forward to seeing how they’ll overcome the rising Dead, to rescue Jie, to save the world. Heck, I look forward to seeing how Eleanor manages to keep the unlikely friends she’s made along the way.

And boy do I hope that Oliver gets what he deserves. Which is to say, everything.



Other reviews for this series:

  1. Something Strange and Deadly (Book 1)

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