Thursday, November 3, 2011

ARC Review: Dearly Departed by Lia Habel

Dearly Departed 
Author: Lia Habel
Publication: Del Rey (October 18, 2011)

Description: 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, 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.

My Thoughts: Wow! What a wonderful, surprising story! I was a bit apprehensive when I read the blurb for this one. I thought the author might be trying to do too much - science fiction, steampunk, Victorian mores, and zombies - but Lia Habel pulled it off masterfully. This story is filled with interesting and very likable characters. It didn't take me more than a few pages to fall in love with Nora. She is such an intriguing character with a quirky sense of humor and unique viewpoint.

I loved the touches of humor in this rather grim story. The basic story is an adventure. These people are fighting a war against a disease that is turning large number of people into zombies but the general public doesn't know it. The government is trying to keep the whole zombie epidemic secret from the populace of New Victoria who are living their lives according to Victorian values. Nora doesn't really fit in. She isn't really lady-like. She likes watching holos of wars. She is mourning the death of her father who had died the previous year and is in the guardianship of her aunt who is a social-climbing spendthrift. When she is kidnapped by zombies her whole life undergoes readjustment. She finds out that there are good zombies (those who have kept their minds) and bad zombies. She also finds out that her father is still "alive" but a zombie himself. Her father is searching for a vaccine that will keep normal people from becoming zombies. There are a number of factions who want him to succeed and another number who want him to fail.

Nora is captured by Bram and his unit. They are all zombies and are working with her father to keep the bad zombies away from the normal humans. Bram is upright and honorable and, except for the being dead thing, a wonderful romantic hero. He treats Nora like a human being with a brain which immediately wins her over. Nora quickly comes to trust him.

The story is told from a variety of viewpoints. Each chapter is told from one of the characters perspective. Some of the viewpoint characters are Bram, Nora, Pamela who is Nora's lower-class best friend, Wolfe who is the human officer in charge of Bram's unit and the other good zombies, and Victor who is Nora's father. Seeing the story through all these sets of eyes illuminates the world and the problems.

This story is an exciting adventure and a sweet, touching romance. Don't let the zombies scare you off from a wonderful reading experience.

Favorite Quote:
"If anyone should talk to her," Renfield piped up, "it should be me. We're the most compatible, culturewise. I'm sure that on top of feeling as if she's been thrust into one of the many levels of Hades, with all of its attendant demons, she feels like a lady wandering, lost, amonst the mannerless cads of the slums."

We were all silent for a moment before Tom asked, "You do realize that we're sitting right here, right?"

"Oh, I'm horribly aware of this fact."

"Just checking."
I received this ARC through the Amazon Vine program. You can get your copy here.


  1. Great review! I couldn't agree with you more. I loved this book and it was not at all what I expected. I can't wait for the sequel!

  2. Wonderful review! I adored Dearly! I'm highly anticipating the sequel

    -Wendy from A Cupcake and a Latte: YA Reviews

  3. Oh I cannot wait to read this one and am so glad you found it a surprising read. Great review


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