Monday 19 September 2011

ARC Review: Dearly, Departed - Lia Habel

UK Cover / US Cover

'I'm newly wired with a burning desire for hot flesh.  You know, like every other teenage boy.' Bram, recent zombie recruit.

It should be game over for Nora Dearly when she is ambushed and dragged off into the night by the living dead.  But this crack unit of teen zombies are the good guys, sent to protect Nora from the real monsters roaming the country and zeroing in on cities to swell their ranks.

Can Nora find a way to kill-off the evil undead once and for all?

Can she trust her protectors to resist their hunger for human flesh?

And can she stop herself falling for the noble, sweet, surprisingly attractive, definitely-no-longer-breathing Bram...?

Nora Dearly Series:
Dearly, Departed (UK Release date = 29th of September 2011, US release date = 18th October 2011)
Dearly, Beloved (Title & release date TBC)

Visit Lia Habel's website for more information

I have to admit when I first heard about Dearly, Departed and it was described as a zombie romance I was sceptical.  I don't mind zombies as the bad guy but I don't have the best track record when it comes to them as the hero - especially when they have a romance with a human heroine.  It just presses my ick button & I can't usually get past that to enjoy what I'm reading.  However, I'd heard from friends I trust that the story is amazing so I put my fears to one side and decided to give it a try.  I'm so glad I did because Lia Habel has managed the impossible and I have to admit to having a slight (OK possibly more than slight!) crush on a zombie!

Dearly, Departed is set in the future, the ice caps have melted and there is a shortage of land - the world looks very different from how it is today.  After a massive loss of life people have now settled into new regions and Nora Dearly lives in the Elysian Fields, an underground city in New Victoria.  The people have latched onto Victorian times as a time of peace and prosperity and have set about re-creating that era now to see them through their current hardships.  The story is a cross between a dystopian and steampunk and the world Lia Habel has created is both believable and realistic.  It was easy to understand people's motivation to escape their current situation by stepping back into the past.

Nora has been brought up as a proper Victorian young lady should be but she has a fascination with politics and war that her aunt doesn't believe she should indulge in.  Ever since the death of her father the previous year she has been living with her aunt but it hasn't been an easy environment to live in.  Where her father encouraged her to look at the world differently her aunt is determined to train her properly and make a successful marriage for her.  Everything changes for Nora when she is set upon by a group of zombies who attempt to kidnap her.  She is saved by a mysterious group of strangers but soon discovers that they are also zombies - but these ones are supposed to be the good guys.  Can Nora really trust a group of strangers who are fighting the urge to eat her flesh though?

The Lazarus virus causes the death of anyone who is infected but shortly afterwards they rise again as zombies, some people retain all of their previous mental capacity and go on to become the good guys, others come back like monsters - much more your traditional zombies who can only focus on their next meal.  Our hero Bram is one of the good zombies, he fights the urge to eat flesh and along with his team helps to protect the humans from the bad zombies.  They are still dead though, their bodies incapable of healing and any damage done to them is permanent.  Some of the group are missing limbs or flesh and they aren't the most attractive bunch.  What they are missing in physical appearance they more than make up for in heart though and you can't help but like this group of misfits and respect them for the choices they make.

I don't want to give the story away but there are a lot of mysteries for Nora to uncover as she learns more about the people who saved her.  Nothing about her life will ever be the same again but she is a strong heroine who takes things mostly in her stride.  The story is told from several different perspectives which really allows the author to reveal things to the reader in a way that is fascinating to read.  Seeing things from Bram's point of view really helped me get past the fact that he was a zombie and I found myself really hoping that they would be able to find some kind of a cure for him.  I'm very excited to know that there will be a sequel and I can't wait to re-visit Nora's world in the future.  The story is action packed with plenty of twists and turns that keep you gripped to the pages and I have to mention how much I loved Nora's friend Pam (just wait until you see what she can do with a parasol!).

Even if, like me, you're not sure about the idea of a zombie romance story I would definitely recommend checking out Dearly, Departed.  The romance is sweet and believable but is by no means the main focus of the story and you'd be missing out on a treat if you don't give it a try.

Source: I received a UK copy of this book from RHCB and was given a US copy at AADPhilly, both copies were given in exchange for an honest review.

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.


  1. Like you, I was totally wary of zombie books/romance. I haven't read one yet -- I've been waiting for the right book to come along. And this sounds like the right one! I love the Victorian era, so I'm automatically intrigued. I'll be picking this one up. Thanks for giving me a push in the right direction!

  2. I've always been wary of zombie romances as well - the ick factor is very high! But you're not the only one who has raved about how good this book is so I'm going to trust you and try it! :)

  3. @ Casey - I'm glad you like the sound of this one & I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I'm sure you'll like the steampunk aspect if you're interested in the Victorian era :o)

    @ Mel - I completely agree with the ick factor lol so I was quite surprised at how much I enjoyed this one! I was very wary but it was so good & I hope you like it as much as I did!

  4. Excellent review! So far I am really enjoying this book. After reading The Forest of Hands and Teeth I didn't see how I would be able to embrace a zombie romance but this book is so much more than that. I look forward to finding out all the plot twists and seeing Pam use that parasol-hopefully to do some damage to a bad zombie!

  5. @ Christina - I hope you enjoyed Pam with her parasol! I laughed a lot at that passage :o) I've not read The Forest of Hands and Teeth but if it's a zombie romance I'd be very wary about reading it. I'm amazed that Lia managed to get me to like a zombie romance but she did lol



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