Book Review: Strange and Ever After by Susan Dennard

Written by: Susan Dennard
Release Date: July 22, 2014
Pages: 387, hardcover
Series: Something Strange and Deadly #3
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In the conclusion to the trilogy that Publishers Weekly called “a roaring—and addictive—gothic world,” Eleanor Fitt must control her growing power, face her feelings for Daniel, and confront the evil necromancer Marcus…all before it’s too late.

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.

Susan Dennard will leave readers breathless and forever changed in the concluding pages of this riveting ride.

 

LetsTalk

I finally read the last book in Susan Dennard’s Something Strange and Deadly series! I discovered the series thanks to YAReadAlong over on twitter and found it unique and tightly plotted, with engaging characters and relationships and a particularly feelings-inducing romance. All of these elements were present in Strange and Ever After, but for some reason I didn’t…feel this book as much as the first two. For the most part, I’m chalking this up to my being in a reading slump for the first part of this months, though I did have a few issues that I’ll discuss later. However, it was a good book, and a good note on which to end the trilogy.

One thing I love about this series is the wonderful balance Dennard creates between plot action and character dynamics. I read the whole book in under a day, and there was never a point where I felt like it dragged or like an important aspect of the story was missing. I was impressed with the flow of the writing and the events. I also loved some of the settings and new magical elements that were introduced, but of course the highest point for me was the characters, especially Eleanor, Daniel, and Oliver.

Warning: the end of this book is heartwrenching. You will need tissues. I’m sorry in advance.

Didn'tWork

There was a certain plot twist with a certain character that left me very disappointed. [SPOILERS] I was so excited to see Allison join the group in the beginning. From the first book, I’d been hoping that she would turn out to be more than she appeared, and it seemed like Susan Dennard was granting my wishes. One of my favorite parts of the book was watching Eleanor and Allison grow to respect each other despite all their differences. When it turned out that Allison had been working with Marcus all along, I felt a little bit cheated. Sure, it was a surprising plot twist, but it just wasn’t enough to make up for what had been thrown away. Give me complex lady friendships over plot twists any day.

DidWork

As always, I loved Eleanor’s character! She’s not exactly a nice person, and she doesn’t always make the right decisions, but she is clever and fierce and determined, willing to go to great lengths to do what needs to be done, she cares deeply for her family and friends, and she is able to admit to her mistakes. Her character growth, her many difficult choices, and the darkness that is a part of her make Eleanor a compelling and memorable heroine.

The relationships in this book really shone. Eleanor and Daniel continue to be OTP; here, they grow closer together and have some adorable, swoon-worthy moments. I also loved Eleanor’s complex bond with Oliver and its development from a relationship forged from necessity and full of conflict and mistrust to a genuine caring friendship. (While we’re on that subject, Oliver’s character arc here made me tear up a little.) One of my least favorite things about A Darkness Strange and Lovely was the complete lack of Jie, so I was very pleased to see her rejoin the group here, and I loved some of the moments between her and Eleanor.

The last chapter was an excellent wrap-up for the trilogy–optimistic with notes of sadness, highlighting the sceme of choices that was such an important factor in the last three books. The last line in particular was wonderful.

Pickup

Pick up. A satisfying, if tearjerking, ending to an original, well-written trilogy.

Polina 

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