Strange and Ever After by Susan Denard

Genre: YA fantasy/sci-fi
Secondary genre: historical romance
Format: audio
Series: Something Strange and Deadly vol. 3
CW: violence
Rep: Chinese, mixed race/Creole
Rating: planchet-3

As much as I loved the first book, I found that the sequels were a little disappointing on several fronts, no only in some of the attempts at representation, but just in general terms of enjoying the story. I disliked the way the characters behaved in some aspects, and how they were unwilling to bend or show understanding for each other. I was angry at a specific character died, even though I saw it coming, and the end of the book felt…off. In a way it was too tidy, but in another way it just didn’t fit and almost seemed to leave lose ends.

The greatest problem I had, however, was the pacing. The book begins with a fair amount of action, to the point that I was shocked to look at my phone and see I was only a third of the way through the book, as the sequence felt more like a climax than part of the rising action.

It’s a shame, because I was completely obsessed with the first book, and series finale just kind of let me down. I don’t want to call it a bad book, because it isn’t. It just left me feeling a bit…unmoved, through most of it. The last quarter of the book was, by far, the best part of it, but it still didn’t match the emotional impact of Something Strange and Deadly.

A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Denard

Genre: Fantasy
Secondary genre: historical mystery
Format read: hard copy
Series: Something Strange and Deadly vol 2
Positive rep: biracial, epilepsy
Rating: planchet-4

I loved the first book in this series, and immediately ordered the second when I finished it.

It then sat on my shelf for a year, but who’s counting?

I don’t want to give away too much plot since this is the second book in a series, but the story starts out with our heroine, Eleanor, at her lowest point. A new amputee, she’s still struggling to adjust. In addition, her mother has been committed to an insane asylum, and she’s had to sell just about everything left in the family home to pay the bills. Even worse, she’s been shunned by society and her best friend.

And that’s before a homicidal maniac and a pack of hell hounds come after her. With her friends, the Spirit Hunters, across the pond in Paris, her only hope might be a mysterious young man named Oliver–who also makes no bones about the fact that he’s a demon. If she wants to survive long enough to get help, Eleanor will literally have to choose the lesser of several evils.

It was so great to be back in this world, but there were a few things that kept me from giving it five stars. For starters, based on the first few chapters, it looks like we’re going to get some great disability rep and fat rep. But then Eleanor uses magic to get her amputated hand back, and we find out the only reason she’s considered fat is because she’s stopped wearing a corset.

I love the characters and the way the plot kept me guessing. It was also so hard to tell who was right and who was wrong as the characters question the nature of what, exactly, makes someone evil.

While it wasn’t quite as good as I’d hoped, I will certainly be looking up the third and final book sometime soon.