Saturday, September 17, 2011

Book Shelf: Dearly Departed by Lia Habel

As far as romantic pairings go in the year 2195, you don't get much more unlikely than an upper-class schoolgirl and a poor miner from enemy tribes. Filter in the fact that he's a zombie, and you're definitely talking about star-crossed love.

Dearly, Departed is a cyber-Victorian/steampunk romance that takes place in the shadow of a new ice age. Nora Dearly, a mouthy teenage girl and apparent orphan, leaves school for Christmas - only to be dragged into the night by the living dead. Luckily for her, though, the good ones got to her first. From her reanimated rescuers she learns not only that zombies are roaming the countryside, but that her father is one - and that he's in terrible trouble. She also meets Captain Bram Griswold, a noble, strong, and rather sweet undead boy for whom she starts to fall.

Meanwhile, her best friend, Pamela Roe, is just trying to carry on with life as best she can in the wake of Nora's disappearance - when she ends up killing an evil zombie in self-defense. Pam is galvanized into action, and ends up leading a group of survivors as the city of New London is thronged by the ravenous dead.

Upon hearing of Pamela's plight, Nora and Bram set out to rescue her friends, find her missing father, and maybe just save what's left of the world

Blurb from


Dearly Departed is a book that catapulted me into another world and took me on a journey that I didn’t want to end!

It was a fast paced, exciting story of a world very different to the one we live in. I devoured this book and fell in love with the characters and world. It was wonderfully written; descriptive and the various POV allowed me to get a very rounded view of what was going on, as well as get into the heads of the two main characters at different points within the story. It’s obvious that Lia Habel has put a lot of thought and effort into her debut novel and it shows with the detailed, well crafted world.
The world within this book isn’t quite like anything I’ve read before. It mixes the beauty and traits of the Victorian era with the wonders and benefits of the modern world. Technology blends well with old style feelings and manners, creating a world out of an old film, but ingrained into a modern, somewhat futuristic society.

The zombies too in this book are brilliant. They’re your traditional zombies with an awesome twist that leaves some very human and fun to read about. This novel spots a terrific cast of characters, who give flavour and flair to the book. There isn’t a character in this book that I didn’t adore for one reason or another. Even some who weren’t standouts hold a lot of potential in my eyes. From the two main characters, Nora and Bram, to the people within Nora’s world, to the ragtag bunch of zombies who make up of some of Company Z—they were unique and well rounded.
Bram, Tom, Chas, Renfield and Coalhouse will have you grinning and in stitches with their humour and witty take on their condition. They’ll have you smiling with their fun spirited interactions and wondering just where you can get yourselves a bunch of zombie friends like these!

With the strength of the world and the characters in general, we needed a subsequently strong willed and feisty heroine to really make the novel shine and we certainly found that in Nora! Nora Dearly is your typical New Victorian girl who also happens to be stubborn and outspoken and who doesn’t want to hide behind her beauty and fancy dresses. Oh, no. Nora wants to get out there and be a part of things and she certainly gets her chance when she’s thrust into the middle of a war and learns that everything she knows about the world around her isn’t exactly all there is to know. Far from curtsying and eating scones, this girl knows how to handle her guns, even in a dress and I found Nora to be very likeable with a spark that shone through. To me, she reacted realistically when learning everything she did, but in time she grew to accept Company Z and even wanted to be a part of it. Once she accepted the friendly zombies within this book, she treated them with respect and dignity; accepting them for what they were and even forming friendships with them. I liked her spirit and her attitude in the face of everything—Nora is my kind of girl!

Now there’s no way I can talk about this book and not talk about Bram....and there’s a reason for that. Bram. Is. Amazing! A total gentlemen and sweetie, this zombie boy sure knew how to worm his way into my heart! Bram’s a very well rounded character. He’s honourable and kind, with a good overall thought and acceptance of what he is. He doesn’t complain about what he is and is generally accepting of his condition. He doesn’t let the fact that he’s a zombie ruin his life and he lives it the best he can. He treats Nora with respect from the very beginning and his charm and good nature make him a fantastic male lead to read about. The chapters that feature Bram and his POV really give you an insight into the workings of his mind—everything about Bram is good. Nothing is false and he truly is as good as he seems. He’s strong and brave, while still staying very human and that’s not even taking into account that he is....well....dead.

Nora and Bram may seem like a very unlikely pair, but together they really work. Their relationship is one that develops over time and never seemed rushed. In fact, Nora isn’t even that sure of Bram at first and it takes a while for her to get used to him, let alone her feelings for him. It’s not outright in your face; rather a delicious undercurrent to the novel. The attraction is there, but it takes a while to develop, although Bram is clearly interested in Nora from almost the very beginning. He’s very sweet in his affections; he never pushes Nora for something she’s not ready to give him and he’s often unsure of his actions and how she’ll view him. Their relationship is one that sure has its obstacles. Of epic proportions. She’s alive. He’s dead. Big obstacle, especially when you throw in the fact that he has an expiry date, but it never seems to be an issue for these two and I love that. They know the risks and what being together means, but they just don’t care.

The world within this book is ever changing and ever growing, which was something I enjoyed. Society leans so much about the zombies during the course of the novel, with many changes implemented. The story ends with a slightly different world than the one we first met in the beginning, with differences in the characters evident too. I’m oh, so eager for the next book to see what’s in store next for the characters.
Dearly Departed is endearingly sweet and surprisingly funny. It’s a great tale that will have you on the edge of your seat until the final page, after which you’ll be aching for more!

Source: ARC from Random House Australia (Thanks so much Dorothy!)
Format: Paperback ARC
AU Release Date: Octover 2011
Recommend: Yes! You're sitting here reading my review, when you should be reading this book, naughty, naughty. Go read!
Recommend borrow or buy: Buy!
Cover: It's really pretty, although I must admit I'm still in love with the US one.
Read sequel/continue with series: Yes, yes, yes....


  1. This cover just makes me smirk - but I am still curious about reading it.

    ps - we hates captcha

  2. This cover is fitting with the book, but it doesn't do it justice in my opinion.

    You should definitely give it a go.

    Oh, and be on the lookout for my interview with Lia Habel coming soon!


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