A society modeled on the structure and manners of Victorian England rises from the ashes of chaos and war. A rogue prion causes the dead to walk. A girl and a zombie fall in love. That is Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel. It’s like nothing I’ve ever read before.
Nora Dearly’s life is what one might expect in a young adult novel. She attends an all-girl school, has a catty archrival, and chafes against the role she is expected to play in society. Then she is kidnapped by zombies. I shan’t spoil the plot further, but there is somewhat of a zombie apocalypse. There are also kittens.
I love the world Miss Habel created for this book. It is set in a future that looks back to the past for a model of how to live. They create stunning architectural facades out of holograms and have special news channels that do not disturb the delicate sensibilities of ladies. Miss Habel invents all sorts of cunning gadgets that marry futuristic technologies and a Victorian aesthetic. I was particularly delighted by the color-coded parasols indicating the availability and interests of the young lady beneath.
The stratified society the New Victorians adopt inevitably spawns a rebel group opposed to that order. The rebels are called Punks, and they have airships. Such glorious airships. Miss Dearly’s zombie lover was a Punk farm boy. Now he is a Captain in a special undead regiment of the New Victorian Army. I never thought I would say this of a corpse, but Bram is adorable.
I love when someone completely ordinary becomes a hero. Nora’s best friend Pamela is one such character. I hope Miss Habel gives her a volume of her own adventures some day. It would be quite the read.
I give Dearly, Departed five gears out of five for its clever story and the sheer uniqueness of the world it contains. I highly recommend reading it, even if you normally dislike zombies or young adult romances. You might find its quirky ways win you over.
Your Correspondent From The Bookstore,
Penny J. Merriweather