Darker Still: A Novel of Magic Most Foul by Leanna Renee Hieber
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
With the back blurb giving a sort of mishmash of well known books forced into one YA book, I was happily surprised (and relived) how well Hieber weaved the stories of Dorian Gray and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde into Darker Still taking well known stories and giving it her own twist on these tales and making it new.
New York City 1882:
Natalie Stewart a smart and clever seventeen year old life has been trouble since after a traumatic accident that killed her mother and left her without the ability to speak. With nightmares and visions that haunt her dreams nightly. This doesn't stop Natalie from seeking out the world through books and trying to break from her shelter living. Her life changes when she happens across a painting of Jonathon Whitby, Lord Denbury, with his startling blue eyes that seem to see deep into her soul, almost like he's alive...shocking of all, trapped in the painting and it's only up to Natalie to set him free and face her nightmares and the devil that trapped Denbury in the painting.
Natalie is the type of heroine I love, no pity party for this girl. Losing her voice and being mute hasn’t stopped her from living and expanding her world, while sheltered, she takes everything with a grain of salt and while what happens to her is on the border of crazy fantastic she takes the role she’s given and runs with it and still dealing with her building emotions. There was a few instances where I thought she travel down the road of borderline TSTL, she surprises me when going into danger not risking her neck out to far, but being able to protect those in danger.
Much of the story is told from her POV in present/past tense through her dairy and police reports. While it’s nice to think she could write down all these small details even in a time of crisis. I didn’t really buy into the format. While the idea is great and the author still pulled off an amazing tale, I would have liked it better with just her POV. I felt a lot of emotions/ scenes felt a little lacking in punch especially when faced with the demon that locked Denbury in the painting.
Denbury was charming and sweet, the scenes where very he and Natalie are together were at times sweet, hot and sad. Natalie brings the life back into Denbury’s life and the hope all will be well. Denbury becomes the anchor in the storm for Natalie, she’s been afloat and alone forced into silence by the event that killed her mother. It was kinda cute of Denbury taking the role of the princess in distress and Natalie being the knight in shining armor. Denbury doesn’t have to much of a hand in his release, he supports Natalie with calming of her mind and facing down her nightmares that haunt her.
Both Denbury and Natalie have gifts that makes them targets and there’s still those who would love to get their hands on both of them, there’s also those like who Mrs. Evelyn Northe who wants to protect and help them. There was a lot of loose threads left in the end and some hints, but I fell in love with how Hieber made this story that I’ll be looking forward tonext book in this series.
View all my reviews