Review: Dearly Departed by Lia Habel

My rating: 5 out of 5


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.
Oh why, oh why, oh why?
I received this book as an ARC way back when (October last year!). I loved the cover, thought the story sounded interesting, tried to read it and fell flat. I tried it 3 or 4 times but was almost always distracted by another, more favoured book just released that I wanted to review more.

I wish I'd stuck with it in the first place! I set myself 3 hours to get into the story before finally giving up and marking it as a DNF. By 3 hours I was already half way through the book and LOVING it!

I wasn't keen on the different POV's (there are a few), I think that's been most peoples gripe about it, however when you finally reach the end of the book you realise how the story fell into place WITH the different POV's that couldn't have happened any other way. Sure, I wanted to read about Nora and Bram more than Victor or Wolfe but once I sucked it in and plowed through, the story was absolutely fantastic.

I've never been one for zombie movies. I prefer the 'Shaun of the Dead' style rather than the others. 2 hours of playing Dead Rising on the PS3 also made me dislike anything zombiefied however thanks to the deft and art-like writing of Habel you get immersed in the lore and before you know it it feels like normal when a leg gets blown off or a bite meets flesh!

The steampunk, new Victorian world-building was slow-going to start with but again, like the zombie lore, exceptional once you got used to ultramodern versus victorian. The city of New London was almost a holograph behind my own eyes as the author takes us through the story of a New Victorian era.

And the characters are more than lifelike. Personally I loved Pamela, the BFF. She showed true courage, and who wouldn't love Bram. What a brilliant character that I'd even want to take him home and introduce him to my parents (despite the fact that he's dead). The slow burning romance between Bram and Nora was so lovely, I was just rooting for them from the first.

All in all, this is a brilliant YA-Zombie-Steampunk novel and the first of a new series. I can't wait to get my hands on more!

(My, my Bram - what big hands you've got!
This is the UK Cover - I like it more than the other!)

You can reach Lia Habel here: 

Here's the book trailer! Enjoy!

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