A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard
Book Two of the Something Strange and Deadly series
Publication Date: July 23, 2013
Rating: 3 stars
Source: ARC won from a giveaway
Summary (from Goodreads):
With her brother dead and her mother insane, Eleanor Fitt is alone. Even the Spirit-Hunters—Joseph, Jie, and the handsome Daniel—have fled to Paris. So when Eleanor hears the vicious barking of hounds and sees haunting yellow eyes, she fears that the Dead, and the necromancer Marcus, are after her.
To escape, Eleanor boards a steamer bound for France. There she meets Oliver, a young man who claims to have known her brother. But Oliver harbors a dangerous secret involving necromancy and black magic that entices Eleanor beyond words. If she can resist him, she'll be fine. But when she arrives in Paris, she finds that the Dead have taken over, and there's a whole new evil lurking. And she is forced to make a deadly decision that will go against everything the Spirit-Hunters stand for.
In Paris, there's a price for this darkness strange and lovely, and it may have Eleanor paying with her life.
What I Liked:
I actually really liked the first book - it was so funny and original and I LOVED the setting of the book - you don't encounter that type of historical fiction very often. 1800s Philadelphia is definitely a unique setting. So anyway, the first book took me by surprise - I liked it a lot! This book, on the other hand, didn't live up to the first book (in my opinion). There were good things and there were bad things, but overall, I'm still very much looking forward to reading the third book (coming your way in about two weeks)!
Eleanor is on her way to Paris, to find the Spirit-Hunters. She leaves Philadelphia when she realizes that Marcus is after her. She takes a boat to Paris, in search of the Spirit-Hunters, but the journey to Paris holds so much more for her. Not only does her brother's demon guardian in the form of a man find her, but she is forced to bind to him, in order to protect herself from the Hounds. Eleanor becomes dependent on magic, and Joseph and Jie and Daniel realize this, when Eleanor finally reaches Paris. It's quite the mess, because Eleanor is a powerful necromancer and spell-worker, especially thanks to Oliver (the demon's) magic. The Spirit-Hunters are totally against this, and things start to crumble for Eleanor.
This entire book shows the aftermath of everything for Eleanor in book one - the loss of Eleanor's Daniel's rejection, Eleanor's brother's death, her reputation, and so on. This book is full of pain and heartache and desire - Eleanor wants to prove herself, wants to be independent, wants to forget and move on. But nothing comes easier for her. Her journey to Paris is one obstacle after another - she has to handle a lot of information and changes in a very short time.
Honestly? I wasn't Eleanor's biggest fan in this book, though I liked her a lot in this book. I loved Joseph, Jie, and Daniel - it was so good to see the Spirit-Hunters in action, though I feel like Dennard really let that aspect of the book go a bit, the group just didn't seem the same. Almost detached, or not there. Maybe it was just Paris in general.
I did, however, really like Oliver. He is so funny! He has horrible timing though, but I really his personality and humor. For a demon, he's alright! And don't worry, he doesn't complete a love triangle or anything. Eleanor loves Daniel, Daniel loves Eleanor, but Daniel is apparently still sticking to the rejection, and Eleanor is pretending she never said anything. Lovely.
So yeah. The romance sucked. I had almost HOPED Oliver would be the newly introduced love interest, to make a love triangle. I KNOW, ME WANTING A LOVE TRIANGLE. That is a how desperate I am for Daniel and Eleanor to wake the f*** up and realize a good thing in front of them.
I'm just going to move on to the next section, since it seems like I've reached the negatives. I know this review will seem negative, but three stars is fairly representative of how I felt. I definitely will read book three to find out how it all ends. My review will be up in two weeks. Hopefully, this book was experienced the dreaded sequel slump, but the third book will pull the series up.
What I Did Not Like:
Eleanor. The Spirit-Hunters. The romance. The overall feeling of this book. This book was lackluster, compared to the stunning book one. I didn't FEEL the wonderful historical fiction setting enveloping me in every scene. I didn't love most of the character - Eleanor was pathetic, Joseph and Jie were either detached or angry, Daniel was basically never around, and Oliver, well, I actually liked Oliver.
Eleanor. Is. Pathetic. Mope mope mope, woe is me, I have extraordinary powers, but my friends the Spirit-Hunters don't like it when I used them, they call me evil and not trustworthy and OMG EVERYONE FEEL SORRY FOR ME. I didn't feel very much pity towards Eleanor in this book. If anything, her constant gloom-and-doom attitude repelled me.
The Spirit-Hunters were such a HUGE part of book one. In this book, Eleanor cannot wait to meet the Spirit-Hunters, to gain their help against Marcus. But even though the Spirit-Hunters theoretically seem like a huge part of this book, they're barely there! When Eleanor finally reaches Paris, I feel like we never get much of the Spirit-Hunters, especially Daniel.
Daniel. He is painted as the bad guy, after his rejection in book one, but I honestly think Eleanor was ridiculous in this book. She doesn't want to act rejected by Daniel, and yet, she can't stand to be around him, and she's jealous of his groupies. Mixed signals much, Eleanor? It's not cute. I'm not amused.
I HATE what Dennard has done with the romance in this book. Every time Daniel and Eleanor get a moment together (which is like, never. Twice, maybe), someone interrupts them (OLIVER!), or Eleanor acts stupid, or SOMETHING. I am not pleased with the romance at all. For that matter, I am not pleased with Daniel and Eleanor's relationship in general.
This book was missing something. The first book was magical, compelling, intriguing. But this book seemed dull in comparison, dull, boring, flat, unnecessary. NOTHING concrete happens in this book. We start and finish in the same situation - must kill/defeat Marcus, Daniel/Eleanor is not a thing, Eleanor is powerful. This isn't what a sequel should do! A sequel should further the overall plot of the series, should set up the series in a larger picture, should build up the third book. This book was a bit of a flop, in my opinion.
Would I Recommend It:
Hmm. If you haven't read the first book, don't start the series. Wait until the third book comes out to binge-read the series, or don't start the series at all. But if you've read the first book, it's definitely worth continuing the series!
3 stars. While I think this was a pretty poor sequel, it was an okay book. I'm looking forward to reading the third book - hopefully, it redeems the series! Although, I've heard mixed things already. Ahhh.
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