First, I must comment on the cover. Although this cover is stunning and I do think it accurately portrays the feel of the book, I wish the model used wasn't so thin. Eleanor is described as having a little more cushion than the average girl. I like that she isn't a barbie character. I think the book would get a broader audience if the Spirit-Hunters were some way included on the cover.
Dennerd did an excellent job creating a unique world within a real time period. I loved her use of Victorian era clothes, devices, and such. The one big difference is that, possibly once or twice a year, a few Dead rise from their graves. The novel takes place during a time when the Dead are becoming more common and greater in numbers.
My favorite characters were the Spirit-Hunters. They are like the Ghostbusters of the late 1800s. I like how Dennard integrated diversity into a time period where it wasn't common. I can only assume a Cajun black man and a Chinese girl dressed as a boy were not a common sight in Philadelphia during the late 19th century. The Spirit-Hunters all have unique personalities as well.
Dennard's take on high society Victorian culture was very interesting. I liked how Eleanor defied her place in society as the story progressed. I also really liked the Centennial Exhibition. It reminded me of The Carousel of Progress in Disney.
I've seen a lot of reviews of this novel that didn't like the way zombies were portrayed, but I loved it! I enjoy the traditional voodoo controlled zombies more than the more recently popular crazy flesh-eating virus. I loved the way the Necromancer controlled them, but if he lost control they became Hungry. I also liked the way Dennard incorporated a seance and a Spirit.
There was a little bit of a love triangle, but the story was more powerful. In the next novel I want to learn more about how the Spirit got in during the seance. I would also like to see the Spirit-Hunters challenged by some more paranormal beings. I think I remember a tweet between Marissa Meyer and Dennard talking about a Parisian landmark.
I give this novel a 5/5! One of my favorite debuts of the past year.
And as a post script, I have a video for you that you must see! It's an endearing youtube vid of Dennard opening a package containing her finished book.