I’m so glad Brittany at the Book Addicts Guide is hosting this read along. This is such a fun and spooky Halloween read – it’s like a steampunk Walking Dead!
Something Strange and Deadly is Susan Dennard’s debut novel. The setting is 1876 Philadelphia, and Eleanor’s brother Elijah has gone missing. Complicating matters is the fact that zombies have started to invade their town.
Week One’s questions cover chapters 1-7:
Character impressions: Clarence
What are your first impressions of Clarence? Does he seem like a trustworthy person, or is he hiding ulterior motives behind good looks?
Clarence seems like he’s hiding something, and I wouldn’t trust him if I were Eleanor. He is withholding information from Eleanor and when he’s caught comes up with a flimsy excuse. He swears Eleanor to secrecy while divulging more information.
Character impressions: Eleanor Fitt
What are your first impressions of Eleanor? It seems like her mother always wants to put her family’s reputation above all else. How do you think Eleanor feels about this?
Eleanor is a smart cookie and pretty brave to be fighting off zombies and investigating her brother’s disappearance. She is resourceful and determined to find her brother, even if it means spending time with people she’d rather not. Her mother is very concerned about money and keeping up appearances. Eleanor is respectful but has other priorities.
Character impressions: Daniel
Daniel is quite brash with Eleanor when they first meet in the Spirit-Hunter’s lab. Do you see potential for a friendship? For a romance?
Based on their rocky introduction, I suspect that there is a potential for romance for Daniel and Eleanor. He treats her differently than Clarence does, and is less protective and condescending. These two remind me a little of Alexia and Conall from Soulless – they bicker but underneath there is an attraction. Of course I could be totally off base here!
1. Mrs. Fitt decides to hold a seance as a last minute fill-in for the party’s entertainment. How would you feel about this if you were a guest at the party? Do you think that’s wise with the Dead running around?
Seances freak me out so I wouldn’t be too excited about attending a seance party. And it’s definitely not a good idea with the zombies on the loose. That was a scary scene! Why didn’t they read the newspaper warning about seances? Maybe they were too busy reading the society pages.
2. Eleanor lives with only her mother and the live-in help since her father passed away and her brother is in New York and possibly taken by the Dead. I feel like the absent family member – especially a parent – is a theme I see a lot in YA novels. Why do you think that is? What aspect does this add to the story?
The absent parent is a recurring theme in YA, and maybe that’s because of the drama potential or that so many YA’s can relate to having an absent parent, whether because of divorce or death. The dead dad in this book sets up the scenario that the family needs money, and it forces Eleanor to mature faster. Come to think of it, that may be another reason that authors like to write the deceased parent situation.
3. We first see the steampunk feel when Eleanor wanders into the Centennial Exhibition to find the Spirit-Hunters. What do you think of machines and science fighting the zombies and paranormal?
The zombie killing machines are pretty cool. I get a little wary of steampunk but I think it works really well in this book and I want to know more about the Spirit-Hunters.
4. What do you think really happened to Elijah? Do you think he was captured by the Dead, or are there more secrets hidden behind his disappearance?
I definitely think there’s something more sinister behind Elijah’s disappearance. So far, I don’t think he was captured by the Dead, but that’s a possibility. I wonder if Clarence knows something about it?
EXTRAS: Also add any of your favorite quotes, scenes, or other thoughts about the book so far!
The book started out a little slow for me, but after awhile I got into it and didn’t want to stop reading. I ended up reading through chapter 8, which ended on a big cliffhanger. I’m eager to read more of the story. Things I like so far:
- Eleanor – She’s self-reliant and determined, and all around awesome.
- The Shadow-Hunters – I want to know more of their story and see more zombie takedowns.
- The romance – it doesn’t take center stage and so far there is nothing unbelievable about it.
- The mystery – What happened to Elijah??
- The zombies- Scary! They make this a perfect Halloween read.