Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Something Strange And Deadly Blog Tour: Review, Interview & Giveaway

Hello all my little charmings! I am here today to kick off the blog tour for Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard. This tour is hosted by Shane from Itching For Books! I am here with a review, author interview, and yes, a giveaway of the book! Be sure to enter and check out all the other amazing blogs on the tour (:

Author: Susan Dennard
Publication Date: July 24, 2012
Publisher: HarperTeen

The year is 1876, and there’s something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia…

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she’s just read in the newspaper—

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor…from her brother.

Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she’ll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including their maddeningly stubborn yet handsome inventor, Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.

I knew in January that I would inevitably read this book. The cover is so alluring and I love how many covers this year have involved elegant girls in beautiful ballroom gowns. This black dress looks almost as if it just fades into the sides on the cover. I had read that they were originally going to call this book The Spirit-Hunters and I am here to say that I am so glad they didn’t! Something Strange and Deadly coincides so well with everything about this book and what better way to captivate a reader than to have them know that there is something very strange and deadly brewing?

Eleanor Fitt is neither extravagantly wealthy nor overly attractive but all that matters to her is that her brother Elijah returns home to Philadelphia safely. Eleanor lives in a time when the Dead can be called out of their graves to physically walk the Earth again. They are hungry and impatient! The opening line of this book had me startled and completely fixated on the next two hundred or so pages. A woman is shouting, “The Dead!!!” and after this the reader learns that the Dead, have in fact, risen. What a great way to snag your readers, Susan!

Eleanor was a wonderful character. She was crafty, not too overly confident, and just curious enough to land herself into some rather sticky situations. She carries herself like a lady and never takes anyone’s discouragement simply because she is a woman. She fights the dead and gets herself mixed up with a gang of people known as “Spirit-hunters.” Nothing seems to bother Eleanor because her bond and commitment to finding her brother safely is all that she can seem to focus on. Eleanor is drawn to everything that her mother believes she should not be and continues to defy her mother’s wishes, thinking that she knows best for her family. She is such a smart character and can really persuade the opposite sex!

Daniel Sheridan is a young man working among the Spirit-hunters who is a rather intelligent inventor with a slightly awkward personality, and I mean that in the nicest way possible. He is very intuitive and wants to crack the code for getting rid of the Dead for once and all. He meets his match when he is faced with Eleanor Fitt, however! The two of them make such a great team, when one isn’t trying to outsmart the other that is! Daniel is a diamond in the rough, but what is amazing is how Eleanor learns to appreciate him even though he is a tad rough around the edges. I actually love Eleanor all the more because even though her mother is trying to persuade her to marry into a higher class and wealth, Eleanor refuses seeing the beauty in someone as tattered and broken as Daniel Sheridan.

Within the first couple of chapters I thought that this was for sure going to be a zombie horror story. However, I was wrong and that is not a bad thing. I’m not one for horror stories myself! On the other hand, I did love the spirit/voodoo world that made up Philadelphia and all the characters that inhabited it. It was almost like a Victorian England/ New Orleans mix. There were talk of Necromancers, powerful black magic, and magic using electric forces and water! I loved the magical realm that was incorporated in the story. There was also a ghost story mixed in as well, but I will not spoil this for other anxious readers! Such a great historical context added too and Philadelphia was such a pivotal place when it came to our independence as a nation.

Me: If you could describe "Something Strange and Deadly" in three words, what would they be?

Susan: Gothic, adventurous, and sweeping.

Me: Describe your main character, Eleanor Fitt, in three words.

Susan: Too-curious, impulsive-to-the-point-of-stupidity, and fiercely loyal! (Okay, more than 3 words, sorry!!!)

Me: If you could have dinner with one person, living or dead, who would it be?
Susan: Isaac Asimov! He's my hero (I even named my dog after him). He wrote >400 books in his life--AND he was a professor of biochemistry. How the man managed to accomplish so much, I don't know. I'd have to ask him that during dinner. ;)

Me: Tell us a little about yourself and how you became a writer.

Susan: Well, I started writing for myself (and my sister. She read so many terrible stories!) when I was ~13 years old. I knew I wanted to write sweeping tales with strong heroines, and when I went off to college, I thought I'd pursue creative writing. But THEN, I fell head-over-heels for marine biology and ecology. Thank goodness I did, since grad school was where I met my husband. Not to mention, science took me all around the world--from Antarctica to Fiji to Belize. So many amazing experiences! I only got back into writing when my husband and I moved to Germany and I couldn't work. Never one to sit around and do nothing, I dove headfirst into writing for publication. :)

Me: Can you tell us a little bit about your inspiration for writing this book?

Susan: It came from a dream! How cheesy is that?! I dreamt my brother was missing and the only people who could help were a ragtag group of outcasts. For days, the dream stuck in my mind--begging me to write it--so finally I did. I sat down, wrote out the basics, and then fleshed it out into a full story.

Me: In your writing process, which comes first: the world, the characters, or the plot?

Susan: Every book is different. SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY began with a cast of character and basic plot (see question #5), and then I had to build a world and develop the full plot for it. SCREECHERS (my work in progress) started as a world, and then I populated it with characters I cared about. From there, the plot grew very organically.

Me: Who was your favorite character to write and why?

Susan: In SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY, I loooooved writing Daniel. His interactions with Eleanor were just so fun to craft because I know all the things going through his mind. You all won't know his full backstory--YET--but trust me when I say everything he does has a reason. ;)

Tip of the Tongue Answers:

Favorite book?
A ROOM WITH A VIEW by E.M. Forster

Favorite color?
Seafoam green

Ideal vacation spot?
Disney World (I looooove Disney World!!)

Favorite movie?
ANASTASIA (hottest cartoon hero EVER!)

Animal that best describes your personality?
Dolphin. Or at least I've always wanted to have a dolphin for a friend. ;)

Now for the giveaway….!!!


  1. Wonderful review, we loved mostly the same things about the story. Also, great interview. Thanks for participating!

  2. Loooooooove Anastacia, but NOT a fan of dolphins. At all. I'm kind of excited to read about Daniel now.

  3. Amazing review. You always have the best posts, Chelsey :)

  4. I loved your review. So many good points! And the interview was really fun. It's interesting how life can take us down a different path than we planned, but it ends up turning out better than we expected. Just goes to show that you can have more than one dream. =)

  5. Wow. This one looks creepy and awesome at the same time! Charming stop Chelsey!

  6. Chelsey, thank you SO much for hosting me!! And I am so absolutely thrilled you enjoyed SS&D. :D

  7. Ooh! Thank you! Seafoam green is a good color. :D

  8. It is not cheesy that the book came from a dream. I think there are tons of great books that come from dreams.

    I dream of books all the time but then I wake up determined that I am just dreaming of book I have already read and nothing new.

  9. My kids would want to read this one. Thanks for the giveaway!