Thanks to Brittany at the Book Addicts Guide for hosting this read along.
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.
Sorry guys for combining the questions for week 2 and 3 this time – the week got away from me!
Week 2 Questions: Chapters 8-14 (through page 178)
1. On page 101, Eleanor is reading Elijah’s letter where he mentions the mysterious Gas Ring and how once they see their errors, “Father will be most proud” – Eleanor corrects the tense by saying he would have been proud, not will be and that Elijah never got used to referring to their father in the past tense once he passed away. What do you make of this “mistake”? Is there more to this mistake than Eleanor realizes or was it just an innocent oversight?
I think there is something more behind this mistake, especially coming from Elijah who is behaving very shady.
2. We first hear about the grimoires in this section which Jie explains are books of black magic. What roles do you think these books will play in the story? Since Elijah has clearly involved with grimoires, do you think it’s for the side of good or the side of evil?
At this point, I’m not sure how big a role the grimoires will play, but I’m thinking Elijah is up to no good with them.
3. We start to question a lot of Clarence’s actions at motives in this section of chapters. Do you think he has it in for the Spirit-Hunters? Why does Daniel warn Eleanor against him, and what business does he have with Peger?
Clarence does seem to be hiding something, but I don’t know what his scheme is yet. I was surprised about Daniel’s reaction to seeing Eleanor with Clarence. I thought it was partly jealously, but there could be a rift between the Spirit-Hunters and Clarence.
4. Eleanor and Jie discuss the roles and limited freedoms of women, especially regarding clothes and “proper behavior”. We know that Jie has been disguising herself as a boy so she will not have to abide by the silly rules that women are supposed to follow. When asked, Eleanor says that she has no choice but to obey, and Jie tells her “You always have a choice” (p166). We’ve come along way since Eleanor’s time in the nineteenth century, but do you think certain “rules” like these still exist? Women and men are equal in today’s Western societies, but are there any “norms” that women are still restricted from that men have full freedom to pursue?
I like Jie’s character a lot, and Dennard brings up some good points about gender equality and roles. I’m glad that Eleanor has a friend like Jie in the book to help her to see things from a fresh perspective. And yes, the gender gap still exists, as has come up in the elections this year regarding salary and reproductive issues. It’s not as challenging for women as it was in the nineteenth century though, of course.
5. Chapter 14 ends with quite the cliffhanger! What do you think this spirit is all about? Do you think it’s connected to the Dead at all or is this a separate entity? Why is it specifically connected with Eleanor?
I don’t know what’s up with the spirit, and I’m getting confused with what’s going on, frankly. I don’t think I’m smart enough to figure all this out yet!
Week 3 Questions: For October 24, 2012
1. We’ve watched Eleanor chase after the Dead and after Daniel without hesitation. Do you perceive Eleanor as brave or foolish to act with little thought to consequence?
I suppose she’s a little reckless, but I’m more inclined to think of her as brave. Though her name is Miss Fitt, and that always makes me smile to think it means “misfit” – maybe the author’s trying to tell us something there!
2. Eleanor gets a letter from Elijah to tell her to stop searching for him – that it’s a bad idea and it’s hurting him rather than helping him. Is Eleanor in denial that her brother is working with the necromancer? Or do you think the necromancer is threatening Elijah now that he knows Eleanor is searching for him?
In the beginning I was sure Elijah was working with the necromancer, but maybe that was all a red herring. Actually, my first thought was that Clarence wrote the letter and signed Elijah’s name. I don’t trust anyone at this point. And Eleanor seems just as confused!
3. We find out the history of Daniel Sheridan in these chapters and that he has quite an interesting connection to the Fitt family that Eleanor never knew about. Were you surprised to find out Daniel’s history in Philadelphia? If you were Eleanor, how would you have taken the news?
Yes, very surprising! I would have taken the news about the same as Eleanor- she still has blind faith in her brother, but I think she’s sympathetic to Daniel.
4. We also find out the real story of the Wilcoxes and that both Clarence and his father have a major connection to the Fitts also. We’re clearly getting closer to solving some of the mysteries that have been building up in the story. What do you make of this connection? How do you think this will affect the climax of the book??
It’s finally coming together! The answers are coming fast and furious now. Can’t say I’m surprised about the real story of the Wilcox’s. I wish Clarence would think for himself though and break from tradition. I think his character is pretty weak, but maybe there’s something more there and I’ll be proved wrong.
Next week is the last week of the read along, and I’ll post my wrap-up on Halloween!