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Radiant Shadows

Dearly, Beloved

Dearly, Beloved - I struggled to get through most of Dearly, Beloved. The elements I loved from Dearly, Departed - rich detail, a complicated romance and modern technology mixed with Victorian era elements - either were absent or only added to Dearly, Beloved's inability to fully capture my attention. Nearing the end, my hopes soared as the action began to outpace the political drama, but it was too little too late.As with Dearly, Departed, Dearly, Beloved is told from multiple PoVs - six in fact. And again, I found this endeavor to be overambitious due to the lack of distinction; it was too easy to lose track of which character was speaking. Nora, Laura, Pamela - even Bram - all had moments where they sounded like the same person and I often found myself confused about a character's reaction, only to realize that I was mistaken about which character's view I was reading from. And also as with Dearly, Departed, I didn't find all of the PoVs necessary. Vespertine had only brief appearances and Laura's perspective seemingly served only to inflict the story with zombie teenage angst. I feel like their perspectives could have been cut instead of adding length and detail to an already cumbersome plot.I was constantly confused about supporting characters as well. While I remembered their names - Chas, Tom, Coalhouse, Dr. Samedi - I couldn't remember the details that helped to define them. I couldn't remember their connections to each other, the pasts that made them who they are, or the reasons for their unfaltering trust in Bram. Having read Dearly, Departed almost a year a go, I just couldn't remember these characters, let alone why I liked them.It also made it hard for me to regard Nora and Bram's relationship with anything but disgust.His every memory would one day be physically eaten away by the very thing that had preserved him for me to find; his every injury was destined to be a disfigurement. But until that day, he was mine.The slow and subtle development of their relationship from Dearly, Departed is over and has been replaced by the stolen kisses of a couple courting in New Victoria. Which should have been romantic and adorable. But instead, all I could picture was Nora enjoying kissing dead flesh.The rich detail that I thoroughly enjoyed in Dearly, Departed, was also present in Dearly, Beloved. We meet timid Laura, a young zombie who uses her body as a walking garden - opening small holes in her skin, where she sprinkles in dirt and seeds in the hopes of producing life now that hers is over. Chas' crushed voicebox is repaired and sewn shut with ribbon to resemble a corset. The descriptions of Martira's creamy pale skin in comparison to her flaming red hair and Smoke's sagging skin covering his fresh organs were described in such detail it was impossible not to see them both clearly. But while appreciated, such stunning imagery combined with Dearly, Beloved's convoluted plot served only to add length to an already lengthy tale.Speaking of the convoluted plot, Dearly, Beloved almost had too much going on. The Grave House Gang, Patient One, the Murder, the Changed, the Punks, the aristocrats - everyone had a role to play, and they were usually connected in some way. This should have been fascinating, but instead, it was tedious. Much of the focus was on zombie rights - whether they had any, whether they should be treated differently than the living, whether they should all just be killed - which didn't leave much room for action. And when the action came, many of the plot points were left unresolved, assumingly to be addressed in the next book.With too much left unresolved, in a lengthy novel that should have been shorter, I can't say I truly enjoyed Dearly, Beloved. There were scenes that I loved, the writing is fabulous and the world-building is spectacular. But unnecessary points of view, unmemorable characters and an overly ambitious politically-driven plot left me craving more action and less talk.