Dearly, Departed -
Dearly Departed was my first steampunk read and what an introduction! Author Lia Habel has created a traditional Victorian society living in a richly historic dystopian world mixed with zombies (!) to great effect. She draws amazing pictures with her words to show us how the settlement of New Victoria uses steam and technology in a way that made it completely accessible and enchanting. Our heroine, Nora, is a normal young woman not quite pleased with the strictures placed on her by the traditional values of the society she lives in. She can’t be bothered with hair ribbons and piano lessons when current affairs and war history are so much more exciting. After her parents die, however, she is forced to apply herself to the arrangement of an advantageous match because imprudent spending by her guardian Aunt has left her in dire straits. Before that can happen though she is rescued during a kidnapping attempt by what she discovers are ‘good’ zombies sent by a surprising ally.This is where things got interesting for me because she is rescued, more specifically, by the dashing, charismatic and very much dead, Captain Abraham ‘Bram’ Griswold! Yes, she falls in love with a zombie and before you roll your eyes I can tell you that by the end I was totally in love with him too. Now Bram is not your typical, rotting, mindless, flesh eating monster. Through the efforts of science, the ‘freshly’ dead can sometimes keep their personalities, their memories and, most importantly, their hold on civilized, intelligent behavior.Now there were a few things about the book I didn’t like, mainly the 356729 points of view the author felt compelled to write which distracted from the parts of the book that I really wanted to read. This is not to say that Habel should have limited the time we spent with most of the secondary characters who I thought were well written and real assets to the story but don’t devote chapters that could have given us more Nora and Bram, the real stars of the show. Also the ending scenes threw several predictable wrenches into the whole affair that I now see have served to set up where Habel intends to take book 2. I only hope that Dearly, Beloved will cut down on the far too numerous points of view and focus on the characters that give strength and identity to the narrative.