Something Strange and Deadly Read Along Week 2

Week 2 of the Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard Read Along hosted by Books Addicts Guide is here!

The questions and my answers for Chapters 8-14 are below. If you missed my answers to week one’s questions, you can view them here. Be sure to check back each week for a new round of Q&A. If you’d like to participate, check Books Addicts Guide for more information!

Week 2 Q&A:

1. On page 101, Eleanor is reading Elijah’s letter where he mentions the mysterious Gas Ring and how once they see their errors, “Father will be most proud” – Eleanor corrects the tense by saying he would have been proud, not will be and that Elijah never got used to referring to their father in the past tense once he passed away. What do you make of this “mistake”? Is there more to this mistake than Eleanor realizes or was it just an innocent oversight?
When I started to read this scene, my first thought indeed was “Oh, this is foreshadowing.” But when I continued reading and got to the part where Eleanor explains that Elijah never got used to using their father’s name in the past tense, my thoughts wavered. I could accept this detail at face value or I could empathize with a girl who thinks she knows her family and clearly doesn’t. Eleanor was quick to explain this fault but sometimes people hide their secrets in the open because of this factor in particular – the easy cover up. I would like to believe that their father is indeed dead… but dead or alive, he could make an appearance in the book if he hasn’t already.

2. We first hear about the grimoires in this section which Jie explains are books of black magic. What roles do you think these books will play in the story? Since Elijah is clearly involved with grimoires, do you think it’s for the side of good or the side of evil?
The grimoires will certainly help Elijah or the necromancer and possibly even the Spirit Hunters (if they are willing to chance black magic) find or create whatever it is that is holding them back… it’s just a matter of who finds what they need first to move forward in their plans.

That in mind, I do want to mention that certain aspects of what I’ve read here remind me of a Charmed or Buffy version of National Treasure. Anyone else? I watch a lot of TV and film so I hope my references do not become to be too much but I did want to mention that. Also, I know that black magic can be anywhere but I am curious to know if Philadelphia was always the setting for this story rather than say, New Orleans. I am glad that it is in Philadelphia though…very refreshing.

I think I’ve veered off enough from the question here. So all of that said, I don’t know if the use of the grimoires will be for the good or bad. I say that because what’s “bad” to us might just be good intentions handled very badly. Or a desperate times scenario. That doesn’t make it any less bad but I don’t want to assume sides when there is so much still to learn. I don’t like guessing too much because I just want to wait and see what road the author goes down.

3. We start to question a lot of Clarence’s actions and motives in this section of chapters. Do you think he has it in for the Spirit-Hunters? Why does Daniel warn Eleanor against him, and what business does he have with Peger
I’ve always been suspicious of Clarence since it was clear from day one that he is hiding something. Side note, I am glad that as time goes on, Eleanor is put in situations where she is forced to see more sides of people. Eleanor is naive but she doesn’t want to be and she’s figuring that out very slowly, as the people around her begin to peel off her shell.

Back to Clarence, I don’t think that he has it in for the Spirit Hunters but it is clear that the two have different agendas. Unless Daniel took on a job for Clarence and it went horribly wrong. Unless the two have shared a different but equally bad history and since then Clarence has become the necromancer which might explain Willis. My guesses are always wild so…I don’t know. I don’t know how Peger connects to everyone. I don’t know! I don’t know! But I cannot wait to find out!

4. Eleanor and Jie discuss the roles and limited freedoms of women, especially regarding clothes and “proper behavior”. We know that Jie has been disguising herself as a boy so she will not have to abide by the silly rules that women are supposed to follow. When asked, Eleanor says that she has no choice but to obey, and Jie tells her “You always have a choice” (p166). We’ve come a long way since Eleanor’s time in the nineteenth century, but do you think certain “rules” like these still exist? Women and men are equal in today’s Western societies, but are there any “norms” that women are still restricted from that men have full freedom to pursue?
First, I have to say that “You always have a choice” is one of my favorite lines of the entire book. Second, we all know that there are unwritten rules in America for everyone, for the majority and for the minority… unwritten because most have become illegal. Illegal or not, all the said “rules” are are what people believe you should do and how people believe you should act in order to make their environment what they want it to be. Take the “a women’s right to choose” scenario. Or body image. Or being a leader in certain denominations of church or even in certain positions in politics. Or praise. Or salary. Can you believe that last one still happens today? Ugh. The list goes on.

Women have defied gender expectations over the centuries by simply accepting themselves as human beings when society didn’t. It is a real shame that women are still subjected to certain expectations, especially in the land of the “free.” At what price are you willing to be free? Also, if you haven’t seen the film, Iron Jawed Angels, I highly encourage you to watch it asap. I could write a college length essay on this topic so let me stop here. I do want to direct you to a guest post by Kristina Apgar for more.

5. Chapter 14 ends with quite the cliffhanger! What do you think this spirit is all about? Do you think it’s connected to the Dead at all or is this a separate entity? Why is it specifically connected with Eleanor?
I could list a bunch of scenarios as to why the spirit is in our realm (Ghost Whisperer, Medium anyone?) so I won’t even begin to list the possibilities.

Favorite Quotes:

Page 128
My corset creaked like ancient floorboards.

Page 145
I kicked my bottom high and dipped my chest low–a perfect display of the Grecian bend. “If it’s a camel you wish to have, sir, then you are on the wrong continent!” I straightened, pleased by his astonished expression.

Page 162
“Peger is like a spider who spins my words against me.”

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