A Gripping Must-Read: A Review of A DARKNESS STRANGE AND LOVELY by Susan Dennard

A Darkness Strange and Lovely (Something Strange and Deadly, #2) 
Susan Dennard
406 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: July 23rd, 2013
Source: ARC from Publisher
Rating: LOVED

Following an all-out battle with the walking Dead, the Spirit Hunters have fled Philadelphia, leaving Eleanor alone to cope with the devastating aftermath. But there’s more trouble ahead—the evil necromancer Marcus has returned, and his diabolical advances have Eleanor escaping to Paris to seek the help of Joseph, Jie, and the infuriatingly handsome Daniel once again. When she arrives, however, she finds a whole new darkness lurking in this City of Light. As harrowing events unfold, Eleanor is forced to make a deadly decision that will mean life or death for everyone.

There are some books out there that deserve much, much more praise than what they receive.

Susan Dennard’s books – SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY, and its recently released sequel, A DARKNESS STRANGE AND LOVELY – pretty much top that list.

Eleanor Fitt, or Miss Fitt (yes, misfit is a good word to describe her), is back and as mouthy as ever in the second installment to Susan Dennard’s steampunk, historical YA debut. This time around, it’s not just the motly Shadow Hunters crew we loved in book one – there’s a new character. Someone who reminds her very much of her beloved brother, maybe even too much. With newfound abilities and an insatiable hunger (the girl can eat), Eleanor is a breath of fresh air amongst quiet, meek protagonists. She’s all about action.

And though I love Eleanor, my favorite character just has to be Daniel. The former fugitive is hilarious as he tries to mask his slang and become a real ‘gentleman’. But his struggle to understand Eleanor and his subtle sweetness only made me fall for him more.

From a bird’s eye view, A DARKNESS STRANGE AND LOVELY holds betrayal, a whodunnit mystery plot, a masquerade ball (which I always love), and some massive hounds. Down to a closer level, the plot pacing was sound, and the new characters – Oliver, Laure, and even Ms Brown – were fleshed out and whole in no time. It takes skill for a writer to combine a great plot with equally great characters.

We’re far from Philadelphia this time, where Eleanor is surrounded by heartbreak and sullen truths. Though the story does begin in America, we’re quickly swept onto a ship chugging its way to Paris. I could pretty much see the bustling streets and magnificent structures, lurking with decay and dead.

All in all, A DARKNESS STRANGE AND LOVELY was a sequel that rivals with its prequel – in the world, characterization, and plot. It’s a gripping, thrilling must-read, and if you haven’t read the first installment, the fact that you need to is an understatement. Though I was able to figure out the mystery long before it unraveled, I enjoyed seeing how it all unfolded – even if it was a little gruesome. But in a world where zombies roam the streets, what more can you expect?


Hafsah Faizal is a YA author, designer, and blogger. Her designs have graced the sites of New York Times bestselling authors, bloggers, and more. She resides in Texas, with her family.



  1. Reply


    August 3, 2013

    i have been meaning to get this one since it came out but somehow or the other something gets in between….. i'm hoping in can get this by the end of the month,

    great review
    Aparajita @Le' Grande Codex

  2. Reply


    August 5, 2013

    Dang, this just sounds amazing!! I had kind of forgotten about the first one in the year it has been released, but the reviews for its sequel – yours included – have really brought home for me that I NEED to read this series. I just know I would love it as much as you did. Really nicely reviewed, Hafsah!

  3. Reply

    YA Book Queen

    August 5, 2013

    Yay for a masquerade ball (those are always fun to read about)! Glad that this story was gripping and thrilling. I highly enjoyed the first book, and you’ve made me very excited for ADS&L! Hopefully my library will get it in soon :)

    Fabulous review, Hafsah!

  4. Reply

    A Canadian Girl

    August 5, 2013

    I liked the first book but didn’t love it. Still, I am interested in reading this one because of the Parisian historical setting. Daniel might play a little part too ;)