Monday, February 13, 2017

Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel | Review

Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel
Published: October 18, 2011
Publisher: Del Ray
Format: audiobook from library, originally an eARC from Netgalley
Find Online: Goodreads | Amazon

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.

Here's the thing, I adored this book. It's crazy because the first time I attempted to read it was as an eARC from NetGalley and I just could not get into the story. I put it down with thoughts of trying again soon, but then my ereader died and I couldn't get it to sync to my new tablet. And then it was forgotten, until a roadtrip happened and I needed some audiobooks - my library had this as a featured audiobook to try. I am so glad I tried again with this title... I'll be checking out the next book for this year's Goodreads challenge.

The dystopian/steampunk world building in this novel is amazing, not only is it a shout out to the Victorian era that the characters world is emulating, but it's the beginning of a zombie outbreak. I would never have through to cross these things together, but it works!

Nora is a great character. Growing up in a Victorianesque world, she should be demure, lady-like and acquiesce to the men, but she is her own person and thinks for herself. I love how she didn't completely judge Bram and his fellow zombies and was more accepting of them and what they are trying to do. She was terrified at first, but made the best of a crappy situation. She has a lot of great qualities that made her a character to root for.

Bram is pretty swoonworthy for a zombie. He still retains things that make him seem human still. The virus hasn't taken him over and made him a monster, so he functions like any man, but just falls apart sometimes. His chapters were fun to read because he struggles internally with his feelings for Nora and his need to control the Laz virus so he doesn't attack her. Gah, his sections were great!

And my favourite person by far was Nora's best friend, Pamela, who was the delicate girl you'd expect for Victorian times. She surprises you by being stronger and resourceful in the face of death. She takes charge and won't stop until she reaches the goal she has in her mind.

I love how the story alternates between Nora, Bram, Pamela, Victor (Nora's father) and Wolfe (a general in the army) and we learn all about the Laz virus, the dystopian world they live in and follow a romance. I loved Ms. Habel's take on how people become zombies and that not all become the drooling, mindless monsters we are used to seeing in books and movies. The only thing I might have changed was leaving out the chapters by Wolfe and some of Victor's as they may not have been needed. Still a really great book. I cannot wait to pick up the next book to see what happens to them all.

About the Author:
I'm an author, and consequently spend the majority of my days locked up in my own head. When I'm actually actively participating in the groundbreaking experiment in groupthink known as "reality," you'll find me designing and sewing costumes, trying to teach myself to play roller derby (I do not tackle pedestrians, contrary to popular belief), planning trips, and watching zombie movies. 


  1. What a lovely cover! I'm always looking for more Victorian-ish times/steampunk/dystopian books, so I'm definitely going to check this one out! So glad you enjoyed it :D

    Brittany @ Brittany's Book Rambles

    1. Oh I hope you'll like it. It was a neat combo of steampunk/dystopian/zombie. I'm looking forward to reading the second book.


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