Can the living coexist with the living dead?
That’s the question that has New Victorian society fiercely divided ever since the mysterious plague known as “The Laz” hit the city of New London and turned thousands into walking corpses. But while some of these zombies are mindless monsters, hungry for human flesh, others can still think, speak, reason, and control their ravenous new appetites.
Just ask Nora Dearly, the young lady of means who was nearly kidnapped by a band of sinister zombies but valiantly rescued by a dashing young man . . . of the dead variety.
Nora and her savior, the young zombie soldier Bram Griswold, fell hopelessly in love. But others feel only fear and loathing for the reanimated dead. Now, as tensions grow between pro- and anti-zombie factions, battle lines are being drawn in the streets. And though Bram is no longer in the New Victorian army, he and his ex-commando zombie comrades are determined to help keep the peace. That means taking a dangerous stand between The Changed, a radical group of sentient zombies fighting for survival, and The Murder, a masked squad of urban guerrillas hellbent on destroying the living dead. But zombies aren’t the only ones in danger: Their living allies are also in The Murder’s crosshairs, and for one vengeful zealot, Nora Dearly is the number one target.
As paranoia, prejudice, and terrorist attacks threaten to plunge the city into full-scale war, Nora’s scientist father and his team continue their desperate race to unlock the secrets of “The Laz” and find a cure. But their efforts may be doomed when a mysterious zombie appears bearing an entirely new strain of the virus—and the nation of New Victoria braces for a new wave of the apocalypse.
Lia Habel’s spellbinding, suspenseful sequel to Dearly, Departed takes her imaginative mash-up of period romance, futuristic thriller, and zombie drama to a whole new level of innovative and irresistible storytelling.
**May contain spoilers for Dearly, Departed**
Wow, that’s a wall of text in the blurb, yeah? But while it probably could have been pared down significantly since it practically gives away half of the book, Dearly, Beloved has lots going on so it’s not totally unwarranted.
The book itself takes place a short time after the events of the first one and the continuity of the story is good. I was a little concerned that I might be somewhat lost since it’s been a while since I read Dearly, Departed, but Habel does a good job of reminding the reader what’s going on and as it turns out, I remembered a lot more than I thought I did once things got rolling.
Much like in the first book, the characters were the strongest aspect of the book for me. First and foremost, Bram. It’s not hard to see how Nora managed to fall for him, even though he’s a zombie. He’s basically the perfect guy other than the whole being dead thing. His zombie friends are awesome as well, and we get to see a bit more about how Coalhouse works in this book because his role expands. I have to say, I still found myself a bit wishy-washy on Nora. Not because she isn’t well-written, just because there’s something about her that rubs me the wrong way to a small degree. I don’t dislike her but I’m not all “Yeah girl, you kick ass!” either. Even though I feel like I should think that about her, like that’s the intention. She’s brave but it’s to the point of foolishness in a lot of cases. And Michael is just such a dick. He’s gleefully evil. I was a bit disappointed in Pam, though. After being completely kickass in the last book (way more so than Nora, tbh) she was very meh in this one.
I know I was thoroughly engrossed in the book because I read a big chunk of it during a Steelers game. While I was watching with other people. That doesn’t happen often (I’ve yet to find a book that I’ll read during a hockey game, but when I do I’ll probably just take my blog offline and give up on reading altogether because I will have found a book that’ll never be topped). I just couldn’t put it down.
At very nearly 500 pages this book could have been a total doorstopper if it wasn’t interesting and well-written. Fortunately that wasn’t an issue whatsoever. I flew through it quickly. Those who are looking for tons of zombie action may be a little disappointed. There is some, but not a great deal – which is not surprising, since the zombies are “tame” and living peacefully among humans. I also felt like there was somewhat less of a steampunk element in this book than there was in the last, but it is certainly still a component.
Fans of this series will definitely not be disappointed with this entry. The stakes are upped in many ways and there’s plenty of tension and conflict in addition to a delightfully evil villain. Fans of well-written zombie fiction should definitely be all over this series.
My review of Dearly, Departed is here.