Saturday, 3 September 2011

Review: Dearly Departed

ARC from AAD

by Lia Habel

Love can never die.

Love conquers all, so they say. But can Cupid’s arrow pierce the hearts of the living and the dead—or rather, the undead? Can a proper young Victorian lady find true love in the arms of a dashing zombie?

The year is 2195. The place is New Victoria—a high-tech nation modeled on the manners, mores, and fashions of an antique era. A teenager in high society, Nora Dearly is far more interested in military history and her country’s political unrest than in tea parties and debutante balls. But after her beloved parents die, Nora is left at the mercy of her domineering aunt, a social-climbing spendthrift who has squandered the family fortune, and now plans to marry her niece off for money. For Nora, no fate could be more horrible—until she’s nearly kidnapped by an army of walking corpses.

But fate is just getting started with Nora. Catapulted from her world of drawing-room civility, she’s suddenly gunning down ravenous zombies alongside mysterious black-clad commandos and confronting “The Laz,” a fatal virus that raises the dead—and hell along with them. Hardly ideal circumstances. Then Nora meets Bram Griswold, a young soldier who is brave, handsome, noble . . . and dead. But as is the case with the rest of his special undead unit, luck and modern science have enabled Bram to hold on to his mind, his manners, and his body parts. And when his bond of trust with Nora turns to tenderness, there’s no turning back. Eventually, they know, the disease will win, separating the star-crossed lovers forever. But until then, beating or not, their hearts will have what they desire.

In Dearly, Departed, steampunk meets romance meets walking-dead thriller, spawning a madly imaginative novel of rip-roaring adventure, spine-tingling suspense, and macabre comedy that forever redefines the concept of undying love.

Yes you heard right, Zombies, now before I go any further I would like to state that I have a 'thing' about Zombies, and I don't mean in an aren't they great way. This is the fault of my uncle who showed me, my brother and cousin Dawn of the Dead- I was about 10! Never been the same about Zombies since, they loved them, me.... terrified!  It took until I was in my 20s for me to watch Day of the Dead, but I have been getting over it and did read Pride, Prejudice and Zombies. So if me, a zombie worrier liked it, it must be good, mustn't it? Well I DID like it and it is a very good book. It has enough charm to warm and cheer the most avid adult reader and enough angst to thrill the YA reader and perhaps make them forget all about sparkly vampires, at least for a while.

If you are a Zombie lover there are the traditional thriller flesh eating decaying walking dead zombies, but there are also the Zombies who are suffering from 'The Laz' or Lazarus syndrome, when they 'died' they reanimated quickly and came back as themselves, personality and morality intact. This dichotomy creates an interesting development in the story arc, you have your traditional battle between different factions (The Punks and New Victorians, the good and bad Zombies, the humans and all zombies) but it also allows the story to twist and turn in intricate ways. And it is a story with a twist, one that makes you think, concentrate and question.

It is a complicated tale, but it is written in a way which allows you to see the full picture. Each chapter is written in the first person, but each chapter is written in a different voice: the chapter headers telling you who is narrating the chapter. Now don't run away screaming, this is a really interesting way of giving the omniscient narrative point of view and it works well, creating sympathy for the characters and a pacy novel.

The characters are endearing, Nora and Bram in particular, but the supporting characters measure up too, they are amusing, forthright and brave. I don't want to say too much because I would hate to spoil the book for anyone. Nora (Dearly- hence the title) is intelligent, brave and ladylike, something which is shown in great contrast when she comes in contact with the zombies, but she also holds a secret, a secret that she doesn't know. Bram is tall, athletic, sensitive and alpha, and for a zombie, sexy. They are drawn to each other from the beginning but as the relationship develops they are faced with the obvious problem of where it can go, are I really enjoyed where Habel took the story. The steampunk backdrop is perfect for the content of the novel, a mix of new technology, steam and Victoriana. One of my favourite scenes shows you just what damage you can do with a parasol!

The ending suggests that there will be future books and I am really interested where this tale will go. An interesting and enjoyable read I give 4.5 frillies to. Definitely one to watch out for.


Bungle said...

Great review!
I have this On My Wishlist. Looking forward to reading it even more now!

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