Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Darkness Strange and Lovely

Eleanor Fitt is utterly alone and disgraced. Her brother died; her mother is in a sanitorium; and the Spirit Hunters went to France. Her mother's care is quite costly, so she sells practically anything of value to fund it. Everything changes when Eleanor's phantom hand hurts and she sees yellow eyes and hears the baying of hounds. Marcus is after her and using magic to get these spirit hounds to attack her. Eleanor then flees to France to seek the Spirit Hunters' help. On the way, she meets Oliver, a boy who knew her brother. He has a dark secret that changes everything and forces Eleanor to decide what she how far she will go to survive. They arrive in Paris and find the Spirit Hunters have their own problems. The Dead are attacking all over Paris after being ritualistically mutilated and murdered. They have no clue who is behind it or why it's being done. In order to help them and save Paris, Eleanor may have to do the unthinkable and turn the Spirit Hunters against her.

A Darkness Strange and Lovely starts by dealing with the aftermath of the first book: the death of Eleanor's brother, the loss of her hand, the insanity of her mother and the crippling debt for her treatment, the infamy of the Spirit Hunters, and the fact that Marcus is masquerading as Eleanor's brother in his dead body. All of this takes a toll on Eleanor, especially since she's a social pariah and has to deal with all this alone. She's grown a lot since the first book and proves to be more independent and capable than ever. She's truly an individual who rejects the fashions of the era, speaks her mind, does what she feels is right, and eats what she wants to despite the view of what women should be in that society. That's not say that she doesn't make mistakes because she does. Some of them are extremely frustrating and I want to reach in the book and shake some sense into her. Her hunger for more and more power as she uses necromancy becomes a huge problem that she refuses to address. It'll be interesting to see how it will be addressed in the next novel. She also decides to lie to her friends in order to hide her power and protect a new friend. Despite her mistakes, she is still the same loyal, endearing Eleanor.

After establishing what happened in the last book, the story really takes off. The new main setting is in France and Susan Dennard's descriptive, flowing writing paints a beautiful picture of Paris, from its bustling high society to the beautiful and historical buildings. Everything is drastically different in Paris. The Spirit Hunters spend a lot of time making appearances in society to keep opinion of them high and their very rich patron happy. Their patron keeps them in rich surroundings and it's a much different experience to have everything they need available to them. The Spirit Hunters are much more fashionable, especially Daniel, who has improved his elocution and his manner of dress to appear as a proper gentleman. I love that he reverts back to who he truly is when Eleanor is around.

A Darkness Strange and Deadly does not suffer from second book syndrome. New concepts and characters are introduced and the action just keeps coming with ritual sacrifices and rogue zombies roaming the city. The mystery was nicely resolved while leaving some more overarching plots with loose ends so I can agonize over what might happen. I NEED to know what happens! I can't get enough of these characters and I want the next book now!

My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins

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