Sunday, November 10, 2013

Back With a Vengance: A Darkness Strange and Lovely

A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard (Something Strange and Deadly #2)
HarperTeen, 2013

Due to the fact that this book is the second in a trilogy, I will do my best to keep spoilers to a minimum, but some regarding the first book are unavoidable. You have been warned!

Dennard keeps readers on their toes and in the middle of a lot of action in the second installment of her Something Strange and Deadly trilogy. When we see Eleanor Fitt at the begining of this book, it appears that she is at absolute rock bottom. She has sold almost everything she owns to pay for her mother - who hates her - to get care at an institution. The Spirit-Hunters are an ocean away. She's been outcast by everyone she knows, with no one left who cares about her. Yet it is the violent and horrifying visions that she isn't out of harm's way that make her leave for Paris in an effort to find the Spirit-Hunters and stop the evil Marcus once and for all. But not even battling the Dead could have prepared Eleanor for the choices she must now make.

There is a lot going on in this book, both in terms of action but even more than that in regards to the mythology surrounding Marcus, Eleanor, and her newly realized necromancing abilities. The result of this is a lot of new characters to get to know along with watching Eleanor go from bad to worse. At the end of book one, she awoke a dark magic inside herself, and this book spends a lot of time showing how it tears at her, how what it needs versus what she wants to do are at odds. At times I cringed at her choices, but this tension drove the plot forward and I'm very interested to see how it will be resolved next year.

As Eleanor changes, so do her relationships. Yes, Daniel is back (thank goodness!), but these past few months have taken their toll on an already heartbreaking situation. Eleanor's choices affect not only her relationship with him, but also with the impetuous Jie and Spirit-Hunter leader Joseph. And then there's Oliver, a new addition to the cast whose moral compass doesn't exactly point north and plays by his own rules.

Though at times I was a bit overwhelmed by the intensity of this book and how much was going on, I enjoyed it. If you liked book one, hang on to your seats with this installment. Susan Dennard isn't afraid of exploring the dark side of the City of Light, but readers might be when they're done with this book.

Comments welcome, and, as always, happy reading!

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