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Radiant Shadows

Dearly, Departed

Dearly, Departed - Steampunk Victorian Zombies.I'm almost tempted to just leave it there, because that alone should be enough for anyone to read Dearly, Departed...but as tempting as it is, I just have to gush about this book a little.Lia's world-building was insanely well-done. At first, my brain kept hemorrhaging over the use of a Victorian term, like carriage, next to a 20th century technology term, like flat screen. But as Lia built up the beautifully dark world of New Victoria, it became second nature as the ease with which she incorporated technology into the mannerisms of the Victorian era was flawless. The thing I remain incredulous about is how any new-age society would regress the status of women in society like is done in New Victoria. I loved the idea behind their society - fastening onto the Victorian era "as a model of civility, order, and prosperity" - but I found it really hard to believe that any group of 20th century women would agree to completely revoke the progress of the women's movement, and return to allowing their husbands and social status to be of more importance than their personal interests or education. I am begrudgingly choosing to overlook this slight as I did really enjoy the story. So, moving on.Dearly, Departed is told from five different point-of-views, which I did feel was a little ambitious. I absolutely loved reading from both Nora and Bram's PoVs. Nora is such a charming character, it's hard not to love her. She is stubborn and loyal to a fault and takes everything in stride. She was strong when she had to be, but showed tender moments when the situation called for it. Bram was so cute and thoughtful that he was disarming - it was way too easy to forget that he was a walking corpse. Their romance developed through trust building and unguarded smiles and in no way over-shadowed what was going on. While they were obviously developing feelings for each other, they both understood the complications of the decision to act on those feelings, and their angst was the backdrop to the politics, war and social upheaval happening front-and-cener. And there was no love triangle!!I really enjoyed watching Pamela grow from a seemingly mindless wannabe socialite into a strong and independent young woman, but I don't feel like she needed to tell that story from her own PoV. I feel like we could have witnessed the change in her character through Nora's eyes. There were sections of her story which I found quite whiney and un-relateable, and so parts really dragged for me. I also don't feel like Victor Dearly needed his own PoV. Other than the slight info-dump we bear witness to through his eyes towards the end of the book, everything that happened to him was merely filler, and not necessary to move the plot forward. I actually would have liked to see more of Wolfe's PoV, and I feel like that would have lessened the need for the two different (but connected) info-dumps we bear witness to in Dearly, Departed. His story could have been drawn out slowly, throughout the book, and the pieces could have come together in the end, just as Nora and Bram were discovering the truth.Dearly, Departed was such a departure from everything I have been reading lately that I think my enjoyment of it might be slightly based by how refreshingly original it was! The subject matter is quite dark and grim, but the characters come alive on the pages and their optimistic outlook on their reanimated lives is contagious. The romance is heart-warming and subtle, rather then soul-searching and all encompassing. And the ending, while leaving an opening for more books in the series, ties up enough loose ends to leave you feeling fulfilled and content.Originally published on my blog, Radiant Shadows