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Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1) – Susan Dennard

Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1) – Susan DennardTitle: Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1) by Susan Dennard
Publishing Info: January 5, 2016 by Macmillan, Tor Books
Source: Barnes & Noble
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: February 15, 2016
Related Posts: Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly #1), A Dawn Most Wicked (Something Strange and Deadly #0.5), A Darkness Strange and Lovely (Something Strange and Deadly #2), Strange and Ever After (Something Strange and Deadly #3)

In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.
Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.
Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she's a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden - lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult's true powers are hidden even from herself.
In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls' heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

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I wasn’t going to pick up TRUTHWITCH — at least not for a while — simply because of the incredible, months-long hype that surrounded it. To be frank, it really killed my interest for the book and having finished Susan Dennard’s previous series and ending up unimpressed, I wasn’t anxious to dive right into TRUTHWITCH. I was offered a review copy of the audiobook from the publisher and with so many friends who had already given it high praise, I figured it was as good of a time to start as any.

My whole experience with TRUTHWITCH was a rocky one. I started the audiobook and was really enjoying the story but the longer I listened, the more the narrator bothered me. I actually was perfectly fine with her narration of the story but the dialogue was a killer. I couldn’t stand the voices she used for the girls and Safi and Iseult ended up coming off as whiny, immature, and weak. Not wanting this to affect my whole experience, I ended up stopping the audiobook and I purchased a print copy instead.

Things were going okay until I realized I had hit a wall with just about everything. I couldn’t bring myself into this book and I was struggling to pick it back up. I had some serious trouble with the pacing most of all and couldn’t find a good balance between action, world-building, and character development. I ended up feeling like a whole lot was happening but it really wasn’t moving the plot forward at all. I felt no closer to development, a surprise, a turning point, or resolution and it started to get really hard for me to keep reading. Quite frankly, I was bored.

I also really struggled with the world-building. It’s one of my favorite parts of fantasy novels and I absolutely love learning about political and social structures, geography, lore, and history. I felt like there were a lot of missed opportunities in the beginning to introduced something in passing that gets used later in the book (Sarah J. Maas is a PRO at this) so the reader already has knowledge of what it is and is excited about its involvement in a major plot point. There were so many things that happened towards the end that I didn’t realize were even important until the characters were discussing them. I also would have loved to learn more about each ability/power, why it was important, how it ranked in comparison to other powers, why Safi’s Truthwitchery was so incredibly important, why stasis was so important to Iseult and her powers, the limits to the powers, how people ended up having them, etc etc. Some of these things were touched upon but I just wanted so much more detail and backstory and history that I found it really lacking for my taste.

The characters also really didn’t grab me at all. You’d think two amazing friends and strong girls would immediately hook me but somehow they didn’t. Maybe it was the narration that soured me on this because try as I did, I never really got those voices out of my head and I never got over the fact that I didn’t feel much depth to them. I think I connected more to Iseult than Safi because I had kind of a hard time with Safi’s hard-headedness at times. Instead of strength in Safi, I saw immaturity and a lack of patience.

The romance didn’t really get me either. I really liked the introduction of Merik and the dance scene was GREAT but other than that, I didn’t feel the chemistry. The cute romantic things that came later were just too late and I was already stuggling with the book. The chemistry just didn’t feel natural for me. I had already lost interest in the book at that point and was pretty much racing to finish (I READ THIS FOR A MONTH) so nothing was really interesting me at that point in time and I really just wanted to finish.

I am super bummed that I just didn’t latch onto much of anything in this book. I just felt like the development wasn’t there (I guess for me — so many people loved it so maybe I’m just the black sheep here) and things were introduced with no history so I was struggling to realize what they were and why they were so important. TRUTHWITCH was just sadly not a hit for me. This may be my last Susan Dennard book because I really lost steam at the end of the Something Strange and Deadly trilogy and this one didn’t end up changing my mind on what I was missing from Susan Dennard’s first series. I’m not sure hype or persuasion could get me to read another book since I seem to be the unpopular opinion on her books.

view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Safi // Character Obsessions: Friendship, duty, freedom, honesty. 
I just never quite got on board with Safi. She seemed a bit too hot-headed and/or immature, making decisions hastily. I feel like it’s one thing to get into trouble because it’s cute for the book or it’s that sort of character but it seemed like Safi got into trouble because she ended up putting herself there and it kind of bothered me.
Iseult // Character Obsessions: Friendship, threads, family, honor. 
I connected a bit more to Iseult than to Safi but I still didn’t connect much. I felt like even though we do get some of her history and her past, it was only just a tiny bit and I wanted to spend so much more time getting to know her.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Books with hype. I gave into the hype and ended up reading this one. I think it was a bit too hyped up and that didn’t help but I also don’t think I would have felt differently even if it hadn’t been.
Left Me Wanting More: World-building. I LOVE learning about a fantasy world. I just wanted so much more of this in TRUTHWITCH.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

I seem to be the black sheep. There have been a few others who seem to share similar opinions but the vast majority of my friends LOVED this. I’d say check out a few more reviews before you take my word for it.

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BOOKS LIKE TRUTHWITCH

(Click the cover to see my review!)

SHADOW AND BONE    RED QUEEN

Strange and Ever After (Something Strange and Deadly #3) – Susan Dennard

Strange and Ever After (Something Strange and Deadly #3) – Susan DennardTitle: Strange and Ever After (Something Strange and Deadly #3) by Susan Dennard
Publishing Info: July 22, 2014 by HarperCollins
Source: Amazon
Genres: Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Steampunk, Young Adult, Zombies
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: March 7, 2015
Related Posts: Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly #1), A Dawn Most Wicked (Something Strange and Deadly #0.5), A Darkness Strange and Lovely (Something Strange and Deadly #2), Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1)

    In the conclusion to the trilogy that Publishers Weekly called “a roaring—and addictive—gothic world,” Eleanor Fitt must control her growing power, face her feelings for Daniel, and confront the evil necromancer Marcus...all before it’s too late.
He took her brother, he took her mother, and now, Marcus has taken her good friend Jie. With more determination than ever to bring this sinister man to justice, Eleanor heads to the hot desert streets of nineteenth-century Egypt in hopes of ending this nightmare. But in addition to her increasingly tense relationships with Daniel, Joseph, and her demon, Oliver, Eleanor must also deal with her former friend, Allison, who has curiously entangled herself in Eleanor’s mission.
With the rising dead chomping at her every move and Jie’s life hanging in the balance, Eleanor is convinced that her black magic will see her through to the bitter end. But there will be a price. Though she and the Spirit Hunters have weathered every battle thus far, there will be consequences to suffer this time—the effects of which will be irreversible. And when it’s over, only some will be able to live a strange and ever after.
Susan Dennard will leave readers breathless and forever changed in the concluding pages of this riveting ride.

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I started this book because I just needed a series to fall back into when nothing else was grabbing me at the moment. After scanning my shelves, I thought it was finally time to finish the Something Strange and Deadly trilogy! The funny (or not-so-funny) thing is, after picking a book I was sure would grab me, I had nothing but struggles trying to get into STRANGE AND EVER AFTER.

I’ve been a fan of the trilogy from the start. SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY was just a lot of fun and Susan Dennard is an absolutely sweetheart! I actually even enjoyed the second book, A DARKNESS STRANGE AND LOVELY, even more so my plans to finally hop into book three and wrap up the series had me really excited and feeling all kinds of warm fuzzies. It started off well and I was definitely interested in where we had left off (plus Oliver <333) but for whatever reason, I just could not get into the book. My interest started REALLY waning after the first few chapters and I just found myself struggling to focus.

Falling out of love with a series is hard, and I think that’s what happened here. The book wasn’t “bad” by any means but my interest in the series overall just seemed to… drift. It also makes my review that much harder to write because how can I feel SO differently now than I did when I first started the series? It seems unfair to say “it’s me, not you” with a series that I’ve already invested time in and spent time sharing… but either way, that seems to be the case here.

I did still like the magic aspect of the book but I felt like in STRANGE AND EVER AFTER, I just wasn’t AS interested. Did I not get enough answers? Enough explanation? Was I so unfocused that I totally missed those fine details on how the magic system worked? Whatever the true answer is (maybe yes to all of the above), it just didn’t seem as concrete as I had hoped. Oliver (the demon!) was one of my favorite characters from book two and honestly, if he wasn’t in this book, I would have had a very hard time continuing at all. I did struggle with the characters a bit in each book, but I still had that love there for the plot. Struggling with the pacing and seemingly similar battles versus the undead several times over just really made me feel like I was reading what I already read in the previous books and I didn’t quite feel that growth from the characters in this book like I had hoped either. There was character growth, but maybe not as much or not in the way that I was hoping. The worst part of it all is that I honestly cannot place my finger on why I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I thought I would except for the fact that… falling out of love with series happens.

There were still some things I enjoyed about STRANGE AND EVER AFTER but I just was not feeling it this time around. I wished we had gotten to see more of Egypt (and I was secretly hoping for more Egyptian mythology tie-ins). I wish I had seen even MORE from Eleanor. I wish someone hadn’t spoiled the ending for me on Twitter… But such is life and I can’t have all of the happy endings to series that I want! Sometimes these things just happen and really, I should have known this was a possibility. More than anything, I’m just really sad because Susan Dennard is SO amazing that by not liking this book, I almost feel like I’m letting her down. It’s a tricky thing when you start to interact with authors! I think I had many more personal feelings attached this time around so I really felt bad as I was reading.

view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Eleanor // Character Obsessions: Magic, Daniel, defeating Marcus.
I was just so back and forth with Eleanor. I did feel like she had done a lot of growing and I actually REALLY liked that she struggled with her temptations to use her magic… But overall she has always just fallen a LITTLE flat for me and I don’t know why. Everyone else really seems to love her as a kickass heroine but for some reason I just kept TRYING to connect and couldn’t.
Oliver // Character Obsessions: Eleanor, freedom, justice, friendship.
I really loved Oliver the whole time. I think it was his snark that really drew me in! Plus, demon. He really felt like the most well-rounded character in terms of personality and he was the only character that really ever fully came to life for me. I loved his addition and what he brought to the series.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Zombies. I keep saying this but it’s true. I usually don’t have the desire to read zombie books but this was such a fun idea and I liked how everything really played out with WHY the undead were plaguing the nation.
Left Me Wanting More: Connection. I wished and I tried but ultimately I just didn’t really make that connection in this series. It was working for a while and I was caught up in the plot but I felt the same things happening in book three and the plot felt tired and similar to the second book. With that, my connection to the characters waned even more and I just had a really hard time.

Addiction Rating
Try it

Well you’ve made it this far into the series so if you haven’t read book three yet, it’s worth it to finish! If you haven’t read the series yet, well… I’m not sure! How do I recommend something that I didn’t fall in love with at the very end? I think it’s a fun series and maybe something I should have read much closer together. It’s possibly the time between book two and three killed me and maybe I should have read the more back-to-back.

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BOOKS LIKE STRANGE AND EVER AFTER

(Click the cover to see my review!)

THE CLOCKWORK SCARAB     BLOODLINES

A Darkness Strange and Lovely (Something Strange and Deadly #2) – Susan Dennard

A Darkness Strange and Lovely (Something Strange and Deadly #2) – Susan DennardTitle: A Darkness Strange and Lovely (Something Strange and Deadly #2) by Susan Dennard
Publishing Info: July 23, 2013 by HarperCollins
Source: Anderson's Bookshop
Genres: Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Steampunk, Young Adult, Zombies
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: March 30, 2014
Related Posts: Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly #1), A Dawn Most Wicked (Something Strange and Deadly #0.5), Strange and Ever After (Something Strange and Deadly #3), Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1)

    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.

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A DARKNESS STRANGE AND LOVELY has been on my “can’t wait to read” list pretty much since it came out last summer and I FINALLY read it months later. Well, better late than never and hey, there’s a bright side because now the series will be more fresh in my mind for when the last book comes out this summer!

It had been a while since I read SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY and I forgot to refresh myself before I started A DARKNESS STRANGE AND LOVELY so something I really appreciated was a brief refresher from Susan Dennard about what happened in book one. It was done so well, including dialogue between two of the characters to really recap the events of book one in a way that didn’t feel repetitive and was still and important part of the story. The book surely didn’t start off slowly either — right off the bat, a LOT is set up to preface the rest of the book and set the tone of the whole novel and I was really excited to get going!

So as we know, the Spirit-Hunters are off in Paris and naturally, Eleanor ventures off to the only place in the world where she feels like she really belongs… Off to France we go! Since the series is already set in a historical time period, the difference between the United States and France didn’t have a largely different feel for me personally (I like France, but I’m not a Francophile so I can take or leave the setting) but I did enjoy the different atmosphere and different aspects of France that ended up playing important roles in the story itself! I was glad we caught up with the Spirit-Hunters fairly quickly because I really enjoy the team dynamic a lot and of course, I was anxious to see how things would turn out with Eleanor and Daniel!

There’s also a new character, Oliver. Given that I love all Olivers, I knew I would instantly gravitate towards his character and I really, really liked everything that he added to this layer of the story that is the Something Strange and Deadly series. Oliver is mysterious and a little bit dangerous (INSTANT like, right here) and he also encourages Eleanor to explore her abilities and really just think for herself… Although he also does it in a way that sort of makes me not trust him. DO I TRUST HIM??? I battled with it the whole book and I almost still don’t know. Eleanor’s friendship with him is in direct conflict with her partnership with the Spirit-Hunters so there is some major drama, concern back and forth, and a whole lot of “who can we really trust?” that had me reeling the whole book, never quite sure what to expect.

I really loved how the series grew and progressed in this book. Questions were answered, more popped up, and the series really reached a point where I’m ready for it to all be resolved in the final book and I can’t wait to see exactly how that happens! I really only have one minor issue with the series so far and that’s the language — I’m still not quite connecting with it and some of the dialogue and time-period jargon feels a bit forced at times, but still keeps the book moving and really puts you in a different place! I haven’t been totally “wowed” by it but I’m anticipating an epic conclusion and I’m excited to see how it all wraps up!

view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a new featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Eleanor // Character Obsessions: Spirit-Hunters, Elijah’s letters, magic.
I really enjoy Eleanor’s spunk but sometimes she’s a bit stubborn for my tastes! I do have to say that if I was in her place, I would probably do the same things about learning how to handle magic and I would be all over trying to use it just like she did. I do like that she takes action and honestly, I see a lot of similarities between the two of us, except she’s probably more bold than I am!
Daniel // Character Obsessions: Germany, learning, inventing, lookin’ sharp.
I’m kind of sad I didn’t get to see more of Daniel and more Daniel-Eleanor interaction. The missed opportunities and failure to communicate grew a bit frustrating and I’m sure they’ll work out their differences in the next book but one of my “second in a series syndrome” issues is when couples are essentially physically separated or sort of broken up in book two. I know they have issues, but I wanted the romance to progress and grow instead of fracturing.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Zombies. Who knew I would enjoy zombies so much? I just love the magical subplots, family involvement, and a sort of Ghost Busters team for the zombie age.
Left Me Wanting More: Romance. I really wanted to see Daniel and Eleanor together! That was one thing that I really longed for throughout the book and really could have just pulled it all together just a little bit more. Romantic glue, if you will.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I really enjoyed this as the second book in the series! I had a couple small issues, but still really enjoyed it and I can’t wait to finish out the series with STRANGE AND EVER AFTER this summer!

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(Click the cover to see my review!)

        Born Wicked       Cruel Beauty

A Dawn Most Wicked (Something Strange and Deadly #0.5) – Susan Dennard

A Dawn Most Wicked (Something Strange and Deadly #0.5) – Susan DennardTitle: A Dawn Most Wicked (Something Strange and Deadly #0.5) by Susan Dennard
Publishing Info: June 4, 2013 by HarperCollins
Genres: Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Steampunk, Young Adult, Zombies
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: June 8, 2013
Related Posts: Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly #1), A Darkness Strange and Lovely (Something Strange and Deadly #2), Strange and Ever After (Something Strange and Deadly #3), Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1)

    Daniel Sheridan is an engineer’s apprentice on a haunted Mississippi steamer known as the Sadie Queen. His best friend–the apprentice pilot, Cassidy Cochran–also happens to be the girl he’s pining for … and the captain’s daughter. But when it looks like the Sadie Queen might get taken off the river, Daniel and Cassidy have to do whatever they can to stop the ghosts that plague the ship.
    Fortunately, there happens to be a Creole gentleman on board by the name of Joseph Boyer–and he just might be able to help them …

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I was actually really surprised with the content of A DAWN MOST WICKED. I feel like a lot of times these novellas/extras that accompany the full length novels don’t usually include so much plot and explanation, but A DAWN MOST WICKED takes us back to three years before SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY begins with Daniel Sheridan and the story of his first love as well as how the gang of Spirit-Hunters came into being.

I’m so, so glad that this novella was from Daniel’s POV and that we got to know so much more about him because if there was one thing I was missing in SSaD, it was that connection to Daniel and that “oomph” in the romance between him & Eleanor. I felt his passion in A DAWN MOST WICKED and this novella also helped me understand his hesitance and his hard shell towards Eleanor.

What I was most surprised about was the story development involved in A DAWN MOST WICKED. So many novellas are just little bonuses, but there was an actual plot twist here by which I was surprised and then impressed because after it happened, I said, “Ohhhh that makes sense!” It was incredibly creative and intriguing and a major point that wasn’t revealed in SSaD. It’s also the biggest piece to the puzzle as to how Joseph, Jie, and Daniel all ended up working together.

I actually quite loved this novella and I think it’s a must-read for fans of SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY. There’s a lot of story here and if you’re still missing a little something from Daniel like I was, this will help you make that connection. If you already loved him, you’ll probably just love him more! I know that I can’t wait to get my hands on A DARKNESS STRANGE AND LOVELY now though…

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Daniel: Hurrah! I made a connection with Daniel!!! I mean, I had in SSaD but not quite as much as I wanted to. I loved his spirit in this book and it was nice to see his first love in action here.
Cassidy: Cassidy is the captain’s daughter and the object of Daniel’s affection. Cassidy seems very much like Eleanor (which explains why he falls for Eleanor in the first place) and I kind of loved her! I love that she wasn’t some prissy girl and was totally badass on the Mississippi.

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Read it!

This novella was so much fun. I loved getting to know more about Daniel and I think it’s an excellent read for anyone who’s a fan of the series!

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     Reboot         The Madman's Daughter

Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly #1) – Susan Dennard

Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly #1) – Susan DennardTitle: Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly #1) by Susan Dennard
Publishing Info: July 24, 2012 by HarperCollins
Genres: Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Steampunk, Young Adult, Zombies
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: October 7, 2012
Related Posts: A Dawn Most Wicked (Something Strange and Deadly #0.5), A Darkness Strange and Lovely (Something Strange and Deadly #2), Strange and Ever After (Something Strange and Deadly #3), Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1)

Philadelphia 1876. The Dead are rising. A zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor Fitt. Whoever controls the Dead Army has her brother. She avoids her mother's choice of husband for the lab of Spirit Hunters, including the maddeningly stubborn yet handsome Daniel. The situation threatens her reputation, and the lives of everyone in the city.

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This was quite an interesting book, I must say! There actually wasn’t as much zombie action as I had expected so since I’m not a big zombie person, it was kind of nice. It actually dealt a little bit more with the paranormal/magic combined with steampunk and industrial. It was interesting the way the two combined. I haven’t read any steampunk before so I was a bit nervous to see that present in the book, but it really worked out quite perfectly. I loved how the machinery aspect intertwined with the paranormal.

Obviously I had my suspicions throughout the whole book (Susan Dennard leads us up to them), but really there were so many surprises in the end even though I suspected a lot. I had a few moments where I was like, “I can’t believe that really just happened!” I was glad that a lot of the twists, although there was a lot of foreshadowing, they were still quite surprising. The author did a great job figuring out how to put those pieces together.

I thought it finished strong and overall I really enjoyed it. I think I was expecting something a little different so I was slightly caught off guard, but this may have been better than what I was expecting. That being said, it still didn’t quite knock me off my feet. I felt like Eleanor could have been a much stronger character and I felt like some of her actions just “fit” the story instead of adding a little extra conflict and really develop a better and more realistic character.

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Eleanor: In a lot of ways, Eleanor was a strong character. She was brave, she was fearless, but I felt like she could have been developed a whole lot more as a person.
Elijah: We have a lot of questions throughout the whole book what Elijah’s true intentions are. Clearly he’s a very interesting character and I think his story may be one of the most interesting in the book.
Clarence:  I really didn’t like Clarence at first — but towards the end, I think I really started to like him. It was hard to understand whether he was a good guy or a bad guy or just confused.

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Try it!

It was interesting! An entertaining book. I wasn’t totally WOWED or anything but it was a lot of fun!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY