Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Strange and Ever After - Susan Dennard

[Please note that this is the third book in the Something Strange and Deadly series, so there may be spoilers for the previous books. You can check out my review of book one, Something Strange and Deadly (which also includes my review of the series novella, A Dawn Most Wicked!) or book two, A Darkness Strange & Lovely.]

Strange and Ever After book cover
Strange and Ever After by Susan Dennard
Series: Something Strange and Deadly #3
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: July 22, 2014
Source/Format: From Margot/Gaby (Thanks, friends!) || ARC
[I received this book for review from the publisher. This in no way affects the thoughts expressed in my review.]

He took her brother, he took her mother, and now, Marcus has taken her good friend Jie. With more determination than ever to bring this sinister man to justice, Eleanor heads to the hot desert streets of nineteenth-century Egypt in hopes of ending this nightmare. But in addition to her increasingly tense relationships with Daniel, Joseph, and her demon, Oliver, Eleanor must also deal with her former friend, Allison, who has curiously entangled herself in Eleanor’s mission.

With the rising dead chomping at her every move and Jie’s life hanging in the balance, Eleanor is convinced that her black magic will see her through to the bitter end. But there will be a price. Though she and the Spirit Hunters have weathered every battle thus far, there will be consequences to suffer this time—the effects of which will be irreversible. And when it’s over, only some will be able to live a strange and ever after. (from Goodreads)

Honestly, I’m still struggling to find the words to properly convey how I felt after finishing Strange and Ever After. My emotions are really all jumbled up just thinking about this story, which is by far my favorite of the entire Something Strange and Deadly series.

Readers are invited to join Eleanor, Daniel, and the rest of the Spirit Hunters for this final chapter of their adventure. And what a journey it is! There are moments thrilling and sentimental, happy and sad, shocking and revelatory. Susan Dennard has managed to hone her writing into a fine-tipped arrow that pierced my heart in the dead center! Honestly, there was no way I could put this novel down once I’d started it, so I neglected all my daily routines, and pushed through emotional upset, just to stay with everyone till the very end.

In Strange and Ever After, it seems like Eleanor Fitt has finally begun to find her footing in her new reality. She’s embraced her necromancer side, fully fascinated by the power that she wields. But what’s important to note is that she’s still struggling about where to draw the line, when it comes to her abilities and her actions. Her struggle is made difficult by the relationships that ring her, from her connection to the Spirit Hunters, her demon Oliver and her romance with Daniel. Susan successfully managed to flesh out this internal conflict, and culminate with a series of choices that feel true to who Eleanor is. Plus, I love that Eleanor might need the help of other people, but she’s definitely badass all on her own!

Of course, this novel would be incomplete without the rest of our beloved characters – Daniel, Jie, Joseph and even Oliver. With each passing book, I’ve grown very attached to everyone, faults and all. The trials they face in the race to beat Marcus to the end goal (which involves a play for power, obviously) are so hard to read, only because I care so deeply for everyone! Each person in the group has their own motivations, weaknesses, strengths, and Susan handles the complexity of each individual very well. Here’s a short summary of each of these people:
  • Daniel – Love of my Eleanor’s life, a nerd and tinkerer who comes up with crazy, awesome and useful inventions. He’s motivated by his desire to right the wrongs he’s committed in his lifetime, his love for his family of Spirit Hunters and, of course, his romantic feelings for Eleanor. His strengths are quick thinking, loyalty and the ability to create, obviously.
  • Jie – One of Eleanor’s best friends, who happens to be a kick-ass fighter. Her motivations lie deeply in revenge against Marcus for the way he managed to turn her subservient, and a desire to protect her family. Her strengths are physical strength, agility and fighting skills.
  • Joseph – Leader of the Spirit Hunters, who is also able to work magic like Eleanor (though he’s not overly fond of it). His motivation is to right the grievous wrongs his former friend Marcus is committing, and protect the world. He’s a born leader, as well as being skilled in magic and making sure the team works together.
  • Oliver – Eleanor’s demon, who technically was her brother Elijah’s demon before his death. He’s motivated by a desire to return to where he belongs, to be released from his position. His strengths are many, as he’s capable of working feats that nobody else can (not even Eleanor). He also provides strength and extra magic for her.
This ragtag bunch of misfits make sense together, and the high stakes journey they go on in Strange and Ever After cements their familial bond for life. They might never fully belong anywhere else, but they do belong to/with each other. Because I cared so much for each of them, I was seriously on their side and rooting for them to make it out of every tight spot, every difficult moment (and there were definitely a lot of those)! Susan really put them all through the wringer, which makes a lot of sense in the context of everything they have at stake – their lives, each other, the world.

Before I end this review, I have to mention how fantastic it is that this novel is set in Egypt and features Egyptian mythology very prominently. It’s a personal fascination for me, and the subtle elegance with which Susan features it in Strange and Ever After is praise-worthy. So yes, I was totally in love with the setting and mythology too, apart from the story and these characters!

All in all, Strange and Ever After was riveting and beautifully told. Eleanor, Daniel, Jie, Joseph, Oliver – these characters certainly have cemented the impressions they’ve left on my heart with their roles in this part of their story, and I will fondly return to them time and again. Though it was hard to see all my beloved characters going through such trials, I also feel like there was no other way for them to go through this journey. Susan has definitely written the best ending for her series, rousing her readers into cheers, sobs or fits of rage as called for.

If you’re a fan of this series, I’m expecting you to either have pre-ordered it or to be making plans to go get your copy at your favorite bookstore. You must join these characters for the last leg of their story! And if you’ve not started this series… What are you waiting for? No time like the present!



And don't forget to check out our posts from yesterday (and enter the giveaway!):

5 comments:

  1. This is amazing. Susan is amazing, and this surprise party is just perfect. I wish I was a part of it!

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  2. I cannot express to you how much ugly crying is happening right now. This is easily the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me.


    God, I can't stop crying. You and Rachel are so incredible. I love you two so much (in a non-creepy way, of course).

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  3. This is awesome and Susan is awesome the times I've met her too. I love the series!!!!!

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  4. Wow you guys...this is one of the nicest and most thoughtful things I have ever read on a blog! Gah....I LOVE this community so much! #allthefeels

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  5. This is so incredibly sweet and thoughtful! I love that you guys took a day to celebrate the author. This is a wonderful series that you guys are hosting, and today's post is really thoughtful and awesome!

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Thanks for leaving a comment! I love seeing what you have to say, and will try to reply (here or on Twitter) as soon as I can :)

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