Book Review: Dearly, Departed by Lisa Habel

The only thing expected of Nora Dearly is that she comport herself as a proper young lady. As a New Victorian, she is expected to be quiet, sweet, and have impeccable manners. For sure, she has those qualities. But when the zombies come, her inner bad-ass comes out in a big way.

Because this book was amazing and there is much good to discuss, I will begin with the most obvious weakness: the multiple points of first-person POV were a little less than charming, and served to yank me out of the narrative. I also felt like Habel didn’t go full-throttle with the zombies. The first introduction of them was met with the appropriate terror and desire to kill them. But as the book wore on, they became almost wallpaper, they were experienced so casually.

That said, this book was a delight. I’ve not ventured into steampunk before, so this was a terrific introduction. I loved the idea of a modern Victorian society – Habel brought that vividly to life. Some of the descriptions were just balls-out amazing. The experience was fully immersive; I loved the war with the Punks, the specific details of the underground city, the parasols with the lights on them. These details really made the book come alive for me.

I adored Nora – but I especially liked to see her falling for Bram. Both were very distinct and fully formed characters. Even the minor characters were distinct. Pamela, for instance, was one of my favorites.

Nora and Bram’s relationship had some oddly touching moments (odd because…well… he’s a zombie and you know what happens to zombies.) Her relationship with Chas, a female zombie, was also quite touching.

I loved this book. It’s the first YA book I’ve read, and the first steampunk, and I’m sold. I eagerly await Lisa Habels subsequent books.

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  1. And did Bram smell like the Old Spice guy or something …… else?

  2. Isn’t the writer’s first name Lia?

  3. I agree about the POV changes, they could be a bit confusing; but I wondered if the author was trying to make it seem more like a movie — you know how they switch between different characters experiences? She did say that she was influenced by zombie movies

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