Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel

Genre: YA Fantasy, Steampunk
Series: Gone With the Respiration #1
Release Date: 18th October 2011
Pages: 470
Book Source: Random House Publishing & NetGalley

Synopsis: 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.

I just fell for a ZOMBIE ... who would of thought??

After a sluggish start the zombie rattler picked up pace! The first 50 or so pages are a slow but necessarly chew through back story and world history but don't give up, I promise it's worth it.

In this eclectic genre fusion Lia Habel gives readers a remarkably drawn world, chock full of original zombie lore. New territories & tribes have risen in the place of nations. The New Victorians have adopted Victorian values & virtues while embracing advanced technology; think digidiaries, ID chips, holograms. While the Punks, so called extremist rebels are not so technologically enamoured.

And thanks to 'The Laz' virus that raises the dead there's also good zombies and bad zombies thrown in the mix -

the Good: undead that 'come back' relatively intact with their memories and personality, they still have 'cravings' but they get their protein from ... you guessed it ... tofu. They also require regular medical assistance to maximise their expiry date.

the Bad: also referred to as Grays are the rotting, flesh eating zombies of our nightmares.

I adored the cast of characters, especially Captain Abraham Griswold (Bram), he's a Punk, he's dead and he's utterly charming. Thankfully he's retained his humanity, his chivalrous personality and the majority of his looks lol. Bram's comrades at Z base are an absolute hoot; Chas, Coalhouse, Tom, Renfield and Dr Samedi. The witty banter and often hilarious comraderie had me giggling like a loon.

"Have you heard of vampires?"
I nodded. Who hasn't?
"Had you heard of zombies before you came here?"
I shook my head.
"See?" He thumped his book for emphasis. "Vampires are just zombies with good PR! That could be us in a few years!"

Nora Dearly is a New Victorian, as is her best friend Pammy. Nora's outspoken, stubborn, brave and not particularly conventional and thus entirely likeable. Pamela comes across as a bit insipid but she certainly comes into her own as the novel progresses, finding inner strength in adversity.

There are five different narrations, each quite distinct but Nora & Bram are the key note speakers. Whilst I had no problem with the changing POV I did enjoy the chapters narrated by Bram & Nora more than the others.

So ... Girl is alive, Boy is dead and against seemingly insurmountable odds a romance flourishes and it's just ... delightful. This is one uniquely fun read and I for one cannot wait for Dearly, Beloved.

About the Author: Lia Habel was born in Jamestown, NY, and has lived there the majority of her life. Her first book, Dearly, Departed, is a sweeping tale of zombie-living romance set in a cyber-Victorian/steampunk future. When Dearly, Departed sold, Lia was swimming in debt incurred from her studies and years of un- and underemployment, with only a few dollars to her name. Miss Habel lives with three former ally cats. She enjoys attending anachronistic and steampunk events, watching zombie movies (she has watched over a hundred of them), commissioning ball gowns, and collecting Victorian and Edwardian books. She is incredibly grateful for the opportunities she has recently been given.

Want to know more about Lia Habel? ~ visit her website.


  1. This was such a unique and exciting novel-I thought the five narrations were a little much but I really loved Nora and Pammy.

  2. I've heard so many good things about this one! Thanks for the review :)

  3. I would love, LOVE to read this book I think. Great review :)

    I have to recommend 'Warm Bodies', it's a 2011 debut and my very first zombie novel. I loved it and I fell in love with the zombie as well.

  4. This sounds sooooooooo good!!! Very interesting twists! :):):):):):):):):):):)

  5. I cannot wait to read this book for myself. It just sounds like it's going to be fun. I love zombie books! LOVE. :) Great review.

  6. Okay...now you've gone and done it...You've made me want to read a zombie book!!

  7. I am so happy to hear you loved this!! Ha, yes, I was shocked that I fell so in love with a zombie too. Make that multiple zombies. The characters were all so fantastic! Bram is such a sweetie <3

    Totally agree with everything you said - the characters, the worldbuilding and the witty dialogue made for such a brilliant novel. Love your review! Now can we please have the sequel asap? :D

  8. What a weird concept. I loved your review and I am sorely tempted to get it. but I just went on a book buying binge so I probably dont need to be adding to my pile at the moment.

  9. I just saw this on Naida's blog and I think it's a great plot. Loved your review and advice about the beginning. You know me, I tend to out books down :)


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