I didn't know too much about this book before I picked it up, and I think that fact made me enjoy it all the more - particularly when I was nearly finished and finally read the snippet from the back cover - it was a total spoiler! So I will not say too much about this, other than to mention the few things that I knew about it when I put it on hold at my library: Zombies. Steampunk. Alternate future.
Let me add a few other things that I enjoyed about the novel: strong, feisty heroine, romance, dialogue that is laugh-out-loud funny. I wouldn't actually characterize this as steampunk, because it is set in the future, rather than the past, but it does have a Victorian, steampunkish feel to it. And did I mention there are zombies?
Habel puts an interesting twist on the zombie rules. Depending on how long it takes the victims to "regenerate" following infection, the person may be a thinking, feeling, rational zombie or a violent, slavering, mindless brain-craver. Interesting...
The book is told in the first person from several different points of view, which mostly worked for me. The POV shifts did occasionally sabotage the momentum of the story, and sometimes I felt as though the same thing was being told twice, which again adversely affected the pacing of the story, but overall I enjoyed it very much. While the story is wrapped up fairly well at the end, there is a last-minute revelation which leaves no doubt but that the adventures will continue in the second book, Dearly, Beloved, which was published just last month.
Books in the Dearly, Departed series:
1. Dearly, Departed
2. Dearly, Beloved
Dearly, Departed (#1 in the Dearly, Departed series) by Lia Habel (Ballantine Books, 2011)
Also reviewed at:
Dark Faerie Tales: "Although the switching between character perspectives for each chapter took away from the main story, it kept me reading, wanting to know how they all connected in the end."
Fiction Vixen: "There are too many storylines being explored and too many different factions, which was a shame because on their own I found most all of them interesting."
Steph Su Reads: "If one overlooks some inconsistencies in worldbuilding, supporting character development, and plot, then Lia Habel’s paranormal/steampunk debut is a charming read that’s sweet and funny."