Friday, 25 November 2011

Dearly Departed Review

Dearly, Departed
-        -   Lia Habel

Publisher: Del Ray

E-Arc with thanks to netgalley and Del Ray Books
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.

Dearly, Departed is set in a particularly unique world that combines a lot of different genres – post-apocalypse, steampunk, YA, romance, and of course zombies. Set in the future where the world’s population now hugs the equator for warmth, one tribe has embraced the ‘golden’ age of Victorian London as their culture, recreating the manners and morals of that age, but with the luxury of computers and electronics, This makes it seem like a bizarre mix of old fashion and modern. While it threw me at first, I soon came to enjoy this unique mix.

Nora, our heroine has been grieving for her father for a year, when she is accosted by some strangely rotting people in her home and is propelled into Bram’s arms – who knows more about her than she would like. I liked Nora’s continued care with the zombies she comes across – she doesn’t let her guard down straight away and Bram’s method of winning her trust is very sweet. I didn’t think I would fall for a zombie boy – but with Bram I believed I could! However, Nora still seems like a very passive heroine – she doesn’t actually do much throughout the story – apart from scream and be stubborn. I much preferred reading about Pamela, Nora’s best friend who is caught between her education and society expectations and being herself and her family. She is much more relate-able – and come the finale, Pamela was much more gun-ho – grabbing her bow and arrows and risking herself to help others. More Pamela please!

The mix of good and bad zombies is great as well – especially with the good zombies knowing their time is still limited. Overall characters are much stronger than plot and it was the characters that kept me reading. I wanted to know more about Bram, Chas, Pamela. Some of the characters actions and motivations didn’t really make sense (What was Wolfe’s master plan? It didn’t make sense!), but it didn’t matter much, as the characters were what you wanted to read about! Even small characters that don’t get much time feel like fully rounded individuals – Dr Samedi and Bailey Chase were so colourful with just a c few scenes. And no steampunk flavoured novel is complete without an airship!

Great characters, interesting world, fun action made this a fun read. I will be looking out for the sequel, Dearly Beloved.

Recommended for fans of Beth Revis and Julie Kagawa.  7.5 out of 10


  1. Hm... I think I really need to check this one out. Sounds so interesting and I love it when the secondary characters feel so real.

    We really need to go for a ride on an airship one day...

  2. Good zombies? Hmm...I wasn't expecting that. Very cool. And, I like the sound of the mix of genres.

  3. True, she did not do much, I did not think about that. But her friend was sure more interesting