Can the living coexist with the living dead?
That’s the question that has New Victorian society fiercely divided ever since the mysterious plague known as “The Laz” hit the city of New London and turned thousands into walking corpses. But while some of these zombies are mindless monsters, hungry for human flesh, others can still think, speak, reason, and control their ravenous new appetites.
Just ask Nora Dearly, the young lady of means who was nearly kidnapped by a band of sinister zombies but valiantly rescued by a dashing young man . . . of the dead variety.
Nora and her savior, the young zombie soldier Bram Griswold, fell hopelessly in love. But others feel only fear and loathing for the reanimated dead. Now, as tensions grow between pro- and anti-zombie factions, battle lines are being drawn in the streets. And though Bram is no longer in the New Victorian army, he and his ex-commando zombie comrades are determined to help keep the peace. That means taking a dangerous stand between The Changed, a radical group of sentient zombies fighting for survival, and The Murder, a masked squad of urban guerrillas hellbent on destroying the living dead. But zombies aren’t the only ones in danger: Their living allies are also in The Murder’s crosshairs, and for one vengeful zealot, Nora Dearly is the number one target.
As paranoia, prejudice, and terrorist attacks threaten to plunge the city into full-scale war, Nora’s scientist father and his team continue their desperate race to unlock the secrets of “The Laz” and find a cure. But their efforts may be doomed when a mysterious zombie appears bearing an entirely new strain of the virus—and the nation of New Victoria braces for a new wave of the apocalypse.
I read Dearly, Departed when it was first released and had the great opportunity to meet Lia Habel in May at a Reading Association Banquet. I got a copy of Dearly, Beloved through netgalley and devoured it immediately, and then I had to sit on my review for a few months.
Finally I get to tell you about it.
The story picks up a little after the dust has settled from volume 1. Everyone is holed up together and Nora is struggling with the fact that she is confined and that she is not out there helping. She sees her father and Bram (swoon) helping the zombie movement. I agree with her on this. Nora is the perfect spokeswoman for the good zombies. But, Dr. Dearly and Bram love Nora and the world, the laz, some rogue thinkers are out there and Nora could easily end up dead, and not coming back as a zombie.
I'm a sucker for lost causes. I love a story that has more of a tragic ending then sunshine and butterflies and Nora and Bram's relationship, fits both for me. I mean - they are in love - but yeah - he's a zombie with only a few years left. You can tell that Bram is more aware of the ticking clock of their relationship, and while Nora says she is, I don't believe her. She's in love for the first time and with the first time, you never think it's going to end. I find that really relateable.
There were a lot of POV's in this volume again and by the end they all tie together. I had to be on my toes to make sure I kept track of all the different paths. But what's that saying? All roads lead to Rome. This is how the plot moves. Don't skip. Don't think any character's opinion is irrelevant.
Lia Habel again creates a thrilling, captivating steampunk story, one where I would be willing to brave the Laz.