Book Review: Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel

Synopsis: New Victoria is a place of antiquated societal manners combined with modern technology. In 2195, Nora Dearly has no interest in attending balls and taking tea as she is still dealing with the death of her parents. After nearly being kidnapped by an army of zombies and rescued by a team of undead Special Forces, Nora is forced into a strange new world. As she spends time with Bram Griswold, Nora soon finds herself falling for the soldier… even though he is dead.

Author: Lia Habel’s interest in zombies led to her writing her debut novel, which actually started out as a joke. She is in her twenties and living in New York, while working on the sequel Dearly, Beloved.

Cover: The artwork of this novel is superb, giving a very dark and steam punk aesthetic that is very fitting. The main character is depicted in a way that is both modern and Victorian, just as indicated in the novel. The graveyard filled with Celtic crosses that pepper the background and back cover have very little relevance, but is quite fitting.

Location: The novel mostly takes place in the city of New London, where a form of Victorian aristocracy rules. There are also two army camps used for the setting, Base Z that is the camp of the good undead soldiers and another which is the location of the flesh-eating zombies ruled by Averne.

Plot: It is a cross between a zombie apocalypse and a tragic love story. The story is completely implausible, but so utterly enthralling you just don’t care since it makes sense in and of itself. There are many plot twists and surprises that keep you on the edge of your seat even as you root for the undead to win.

Point of View: Each chapter is written in the perspective or numerous different characters so as to fully understand what is happening in each of the different locations and sides of the fighting. There is Nora as the main female character and Bram as the main male character; Victor who is Nora’s father and Pamela who is Nora’s best friend; and lastly is Wolfe, the captain in charge of the undead.

Character Development: Pamela is the character who changes the most, as she begins as a scholarship student at a girls’ academy to someone who is willing to stand alone in the face of danger. As a poor girl in a rich man’s society, Pamela had the most to lose but she never hesitated to do whatever was necessary in order to survive.

Romance: The love story in this novel is strange in that a seventeen-year-old girl gradually falls in love with a zombie who retained his sanity. It has an underlying theme of loving someone for their personality rather than their looks, though Bram is apparently good-looking for a guy who has been dead for a couple of years.

Personal Thoughts: This is essentially the equivalent of Twilight Saga, but about zombies instead of vampires. It is similar in that not all zombies are bad, rather vegetarians who eat tofu instead of human flesh, and how one live girl falls for one of the undead even as she fights against others in order to live.

Quote: For once in my life I was somewhere near the top of the pecking order. So long as I could avoid being eaten, I was okay with that.

The Verdict: While I have never been a huge fan of zombies, this is one novel that has me hooked. While some avid fans may protest the existence of “good” zombies and that they eat flesh instead of brains, all those who want to perceive the undead as possibly redeemable would enjoy this book. It is one that I would not hesitate to read again, and I will certainly be looking for more in this series.

 Previous Reviews: Blue Sky DaysActs of Courage,  Angelina’s SecretThe Royal Treatment


Author: JaimeKristal

JaimeKristal is a freelance editor and writer. She started her book review blog "Tales of a Booklover" for the enjoyment of sharing her love of reading.

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