Review: Strange and Ever After by Susan Dennard

Series: Something Strange and Deadly #3
Publication Date: July 22, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 400 (ARC)
Source: Borrowed
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.
 ~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

Eleanor Fitt has lost everything important to her thanks to the evil necromancer, Marcus. She's out for revenge to and right all wrongs with whatever it takes, even growing her newfound scary powers that threaten her very existence because every usage of black magic causes her to lose a bit of herself. She travels to beautiful and enchanting Egypt in search of the infamous Old Man to find the answers she has so desperately seeked since book one. This all leads to the final showdown...the question is whether Eleanor can discover how to defeat Marcus before it's too late.

The world-building, as always, is phenomenal. One thing I have come to expect from Dennard is great detail when it comes to the exotic locations she chooses to set her stories in. When I found out that book three was in Egypt, I was doubly excited to read it because, hello, Egypt! Despite the final showdown and everyone trying not to get killed, I couldn't stop freaking out about the fact that I got to take a reader's vacation to Egypt thanks to Dennard's detailing skills.

The characterization in this book was very strong as well. Though deeply flawed, Eleanor continues to be a very strong heroine that is easy to respect. She is very independent--something super rare for her time--and she genuinely tries to protect everyone she cares about. I've never stopped loving her and it's bittersweet to see that her story (meaning this trilogy) has come to an end. And then, of course, there's Daniel. Pure of heart and super intelligent, I feel as if he is the only constant thing in Eleanor's life whether she likes it or not. He will never let her struggle by herself and will always be there to help her, no matter what the cost. I think this is one of the many reasons as to why he is among my favorite love interests. Daniel is the epitome of swoons, I'm telling you.

This book has even more action than any of the other books combined. The final battle can only be described as epic. Like any duel, there was triumphs and setbacks, angst and success. Nothing is ever simple or easy, but I think that Dennard highlighted every character's sacrifice to rid this world of evil so well. While the ending will be very polarizing, I understand why Dennard chose to end this series the way she did. It is not what I wanted and I'm disappointed in the ending in that sense, but overall this was a very satisfying conclusion to an amazing series and perhaps the only zombie series I will ever willingly read. Anything Dennard delivers us will be amazing. She's truly one of my favorite authors.

According to Dennard, I was the very first person to e-mail her and tell her that I completed this book. She told me of the emotional trauma writing this conclusion wrought on her. Ending a series is never easy, and to see that she struggled so much with making things perfect the way she felt the story played out was amazing. It shows how much this series means to her and how much she hopes we love it. I will continue to recommend this series to anyone who wants to read it, and if you haven't already started it yet now is the time to do so because book three is officially out! Totally worth the binge read, I promise! Just don't forget the tissues.

4 stars


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