Monday, July 21, 2014

Review: Strange and Ever After by Susan Dennard

Title: Strange and Ever After (Something Strange and Deadly #3)
Author: Susan Dennard
Genre: Young Adult, Steampunk, Paranormal Fantasy
Source: HarperTeen via Edelweiss

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.
Review by Nara

Me after finishing Strange and Ever After:

....okay. I cried. Strange and Ever After was one of only nine books ever to make me cry. Look at that last gif! I WAS HIT IN THE FREAKING FEELS.

I find that Strange and Ever After, and actually this series in general, has a very nice balance of romance and action and character development and world building while also managing to make you feel a whole spectrum of emotions. Feels (as evidenced by the above gifs), frustration, swoons, anger, joy. This series makes you feel them all.

Our main character Eleanor goes through such major changes in this series. In Strange and Ever After, she is no longer the naive, uncertain girl from the first book. She discovers cruelty, and darkness, and the strange and lovely pull of magic. She experiences loss on so many levels, and it's through this loss and those changes that she finds the strength and the independence to make her own choices. And of course, it's this strength that she uses for revenge. Perhaps the strength is actually slightly misguided, because she becomes very one-minded and obsessive about this revenge.

While the romance was incredibly frustrating on so many levels, I do think it was also a very well developed, realistic one. It's not just sunshine and rainbows; Eleanor and Daniel do face a lot of problems, which end up being solved through discussion (and not just through kissing and hoping the problems go away). 

Oh, Oliver. How I love you. Often I find it's the well developed secondary characters that can take a series up that extra notch, and that's certainly the case in Strange and Ever After. Oliver is just fantastic. I would argue that his developmental arc is just as interesting as Eleanor's or Daniel's. (If you don't know who Oliver is, I'd rather not introduce him properly, because it could be taken as a spoiler.)

Okay, time for some major spoilers because I need to get the feels out.

Click me to read spoilers

I think this is the first book boyfriend I've had die on me. WHYYYYYYYYYYYYY?! I honestly thought that Eleanor would be able to save him in that final scene, but no. WHY DID YOU HAVE TO KILL HIM SOOZ?! WHY?!

Also, damn, I feel weird because halfway through the book I started shipping Eleanor with both Daniel AND Oliver. WHAT IS THIS. haha. I do think that the relationship between Eleanor and Oliver was more of a platonic one though. Maybe... In any case, I felt weird shipping it lol, though ship it I did.

Aaaaand I've said nothing about the actual plot. Because this a review for the third and final book in the series, I feel that it's best that I leave that out. You definitely want to experience it for yourselves. (By which I mean go buy yourselves copies of the books in this series. Do ittttttt.)


Overall: 10/10
Plot: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Romance: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Cover: 5/5
Why yes, this book is basically perfect.