NOVELLA REVIEW: A Dawn Most Wicked by Susan Dennard

dawnmostwickedA Dawn Most Wicked (Something Strange and Deadly #0.5) by Susan Dennard
HarperTeen, 2013
[Goodreads] [Amazon]

Sequel: Something Strange and Deadly 

Daniel Sheridan is an engineer’s apprentice on a haunted Mississippi steamer known as the Sadie Queen. His best friend–the apprentice pilot, Cassidy Cochran–also happens to be the girl he’s pining for…and the captain’s daughter. But when it looks like the Sadie Queen might get taken off the river, Daniel and Cassidy have to do whatever they can to stop the ghosts that plague the ship.

Fortunately, there happens to be a Creole gentleman on board by the name of Joseph Boyer-–and he just might be able to help them…


I don’t often bother to write full reviews for the novellas I read, particularly when they are in the form of those suddenly everywhere between-book novellas. In my experience – and I believe I’ve read enough of them in the not-so-distant past to give a qualified opinion – these novellas tend to be more miss than hit, and I’ve wondered why the authors felt the need to write them. However, occasionally you stumble upon one that is so well done – and provides such amazing character insight and backstory – that you find yourself making animated hand gestures at it and squeeing ridiculously. Such was the case with A Dawn Most Wicked, which – while technically a prequel to Something Strange and Deadly – also provided a prologue and epilogue to provide you with Daniel’s point of view at the end of that book. And oh, man, my heart. Seriously, this is one swoon-worthy boy.

What I loved most about this book – aside from the extensive Daniel point of view – was that we get to see just what exactly brought Joseph, Jie and Daniel together to form the Spirit-hunters. I loved that we got to see the emotional impact of such a situation (I’m trying to be vague here, because I really want you to read this one yourself). It’s extremely clear just why these three grew to care for each other, because what they had to deal with – and the ways they found each other – were so fraught with danger and emotion and fear that it would have been impossible for them to not have that reaction. I also loved the glimpse of Jie’s life prior to her career as a Spirit-hunter, and the fact that – at first – Daniel (and Joseph) really couldn’t stand her. Even in her brief appearance her cheekiness and abrupt ways were very apparent, which made me smile like a loon.

However, the main draw of this novella is very clearly Daniel. Talk about a guy who’s had a terrible time of it! It was hard not to feel terribly for him the entire time, because he has the darkness of his past hanging over his head and also has to deal with the fact that he’s in love with a girl who is well above his station in life, which is precisely what he’s dealing with in the “current” time period with Eleanor. I loved the parallels drawn between his feelings for both ladies and the way his past with Cassidy has shaped him into who he is today. I also just really loved being in his head, even though his disparaging comments about himself pretty much broke my heart.

If you found yourself intrigued at all by Daniel in Something Strange and Deadly – and, honestly, how could you not? – then you definitely need to read this novella. While I mostly say it’s okay to avoid these between-novel novellas, this is one that you definitely don’t want to miss (and the teaser first chapter from A Darkness Strange and Lovely certainly didn’t hurt, either!). I can’t wait to read more about the fabulously feisty Eleanor Fitt and maddeningly attractive Daniel Sheridan!



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6 Responses to NOVELLA REVIEW: A Dawn Most Wicked by Susan Dennard

  1. Book Blather says:

    Sounds like a great novella! And the setting, a riverboat, is awesome. :-) I shall keep it in mind when I start this series and try to read it first if it gives background rather than second. Thanks!

  2. Molli says:

    I will definitely be reading this one, Merin. I’ve had my eye on it ever since Susan announced it and what it was about. DANIEL. I am thinking before I read ADSAL I will get/read this one, then reread SSAD. I adored it oh-so-much. I love that we get to see Daniel’s POV and that we get an epilogue from him on SSAD. That ending killed me in all the good (and some bad) ways.


    • Merin says:

      I agree, SSAD had that perfect sort of ouchy ending. I told Susan on Twitter, though, that I kind of found it perfect, particularly since it’s the first in a trilogy. And Daniel has a lot of growth to go through yet, I think, if the novella is anything to go by. But I hold out all kinds of hope!

  3. Pingback: Stacking the Shelves #56 | Read and Reviewed

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