Finally, I return. I know it’s been an unfortunately long time since my last post, but I’ve finally gotten through the book I’ve been working on. I’ve got a few more for you after this, but I wanted to attack this one first.

Because Lia Habel truly deserves no less with her brilliant follow-up to Dearly, Departed in Dearly, Beloved. (SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THE FIRST BOOK. I will endeavor not to spoil D,B.)

Nora and Bram were set up in the previous novel beautifully, seeing the inital outbreak of the zombies calmed – just before Lia tosses in a monkey wrench of a new strain of the Laz – suddenly appearing in the city. The war against the undead is not over – and that is where the second book picks up.

Beloved picks up the viewpoints of Nora, Pamela, and Bram, just like the original, but also a few new – and familiar – voices. We see Vespertine Mink for a few chapters, and Michael Allister for a few more. We’re also introduced to a new band of zombies, and gain one of them for a viewpoint character as well.

The beginning of the book was unfortunately a little slower than I would have liked, but I’m willing to chalk that up to several different things. I was relatively distracted when I first started to read the book – and also, it was difficult to find interest in the new storylines at first. I have no great love of Michael Allister (and after this book, I have no reason to change that any time soon) and Vespertine is…a character who for most of the book I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to like or not. The new band of zombies is a little hard to invest in at first, thus her chapters were also difficult to wrap myself in. This is part of the reason why my review has taken this long to get up; I couldn’t invest myself, despite knowing that I would like the rest of the book based solely of Habel’s writing ability.

Picking it up again today, I proved myself correct.

The Changed – the new band of zombies – did slowly make themselves more beloved to me. Vespertine continued to be in the middle of the road, but a scene at the end (concerning my all-time favorite zombie of Z-Corp and Mink’s chess partner) had finally won her my intrigue – if not my respect. As for Allister…well, I”ll be very interested to see what Book Three has in store for him. (I’m hoping for more blood.)

But yet again, Nora and Bram carry the story beautifully, building their impossibly relationship in a world that is – almost literally – out to get them and specifically them. Nora proves just as spunky and headstrong as ever – Bram just as steadfast and loyal (if a bit bullheaded at all the most inconsistent-but-perfect times) and Pamma the stalwart friend ever by Nora’s side.

Pamela’s side story I was the most intrigued by, out of all the stories off of Nora and Bram’s. I am desperate for more of Pamela and her new plot companion (who I’ll refrain from naming too much for spoiler reasons). I want to see what comes of it. I want to see Pamma continue to grow into the woman the war is making her – and I want to watch him be there as it happens. (Oh no. Have I turned into a shipper? I mean, Bram and Nora are my OTP but Pamela and OH NO. I HAVE BECOME A SHIPPER. I’m dreadfully sorry, Miss Habel.)

Overall, the book is 125% worth the time and effort to read. Habel’s writing is light without being weightless, and meaty without being dense – the perfect cross between what is currently viewed as “young adult” fiction, and contemporary urban fantasy-esque Neo Victoriana. (Is that a genre? I think she’s made it one.) By the end of the book, I was sitting in my car, waiting to go inside after work so that I could finish. The final pages had me in tears and then laughing by the next sentence. I think I cried three times before I finished.

Now all that’s left in my head is this:

Dearly, Departed – Dearly, Beloved. …What’s the last one going to be called?

Rating: **** – Recommended


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