YA Review: STRANGE AND EVER AFTER by Susan Dennard

A few weeks ago I entered Susan Dennard’s giveaway for an ARC of the final book in her SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY series, STRANGE AND EVER AFTER. Imagine my glee when she notified me that I won! The book doesn’t come out until July, so I’m thrilled to be able to feature it here before its release. It’s an honor and a terrible responsibility as I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. I am biting my tongue–or my fingers?–as I type this review. As a result, one of the five things I love best will not be the ending in this case because I’m afraid to say anything about it at all. Ok, here we go. And if you haven’t read the other books in the series, you might want to click over to my review of SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY and come back here later as the following description will have spoilers for the first two books.

Still reading? Ok, then.

STRANGE AND EVER AFTER by Susan DennardHe 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.

Here are the five things I loved most about this book:

1. The setting – I mentioned the setting in my review of the first book, and if I’d done a review of the second book, I would have mentioned it there, too (I love Paris!). The third book took us briefly to Marseilles and then to 19th century Egypt for the climax. I loved the descriptions of the cities, the pyramids, and the countrysides. I could imagine myself exploring the crypts. Ok–shudders–maybe not :).

2. The romance but not the romance – I loved Daniel–even more after I read the e-novella A Dawn Most Wicked–but I also loved that this book was not about the romance. It was part of the story but not the whole story. They had much bigger things to worry about here, and while there were a fair share of romantic moments, they didn’t overshadow the life and death nature of the Spirit Hunters’ mission.

3. Eleanor’s journey – Eleanor came a long way from the first book. She frustrated me at times, but even when I wanted to reach into the book and smack her, I understood why she made the choices she did. That’s a tough line for an author to walk, so I applaud Ms. Dennard for keeping Eleanor from tumbling over the edge.

4. Oliver – I wasn’t sure what to think about Oliver in the second book. His actions made much more sense as I understood more about him in this one. By the end of it, I really valued him as a character. In fact, I wouldn’t mind reading about him again … hint, hint.

5. The pacing – This book. Never. Stopped. Seriously. It was a race to the finish. And when it got there, everything happened so quickly I had to go back just to check what had actually happened. And that’s really all I’m going to say about the ending because I refuse to spoil it for anyone.

I’m sure you’d all like to get your hands on my ARC, but I’m not sharing this one. I could use the excuse that Ms. Dennard put my name in it–because she did :)–but the truth is I’m keeping this whole series permanently on my shelves. I highly recommend that you go out and get this book as soon as it comes out. And when you do get your hands on it, come back and discuss the ending with me!

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