Saturday, October 22, 2011

Book Review: Darker Still, by Leanna Renee Hieber

Darker Still: A Novel of Magic Most Foul, is a perfect macabre read for this time of year. I know this book pays homage to Dracula,  The Picture of Dorian Gray, Dr. Jekyll, and some of Poe’s writings, but I’m not that familiar with those so I’m just going to base this review on Darker Still and leave out the comparisons.

Natalie Stewart has been unable to speak since the death of her mother when Natalie was four. Her father is a curator at the Met in New York, and Natalie enjoys drawing and is interested in art. When she sees a painting of Lord Denbury, a young English gentleman presumed to have committed suicide, she is inexplicably drawn to the man in the painting.

Mrs. Northe, a friend of her father, is purchasing the painting but is going to leave it at the Met. Natalie also becomes very close to Mrs. Northe. Natalie discovers that the painting is CHANGING, and she is afraid that she’s losing her mind. But Denbury is definitely calling to Natalie. Fortunately Mrs. Northe, a spiritualist, becomes a confidante and helps Natalie sort out what is going on.

I won’t go into details, but Natalie ends up entering the painting and Denbury has been split into two personalities – the one in the painting and a very sinister one who is wreaking havoc in New York. Natalie, who quickly falls in love with the Denbury in the painting, is determined to find a way to release him.

The story takes place in 1882, and Hieber writes in a more formal language, as would Poe or Wilde. This technique was very well done, but I wouldn’t recommend this one for reluctant readers. I found I had to read a bit slower and that, coupled with a fairly intricate plot, would make this one for more advanced readers. There’s a bit of blood and gore, but I didn’t find it at all off-putting.

The story kept my interest, and the plot moved along steadily. There is a wonderful puzzle to solve and I thought the way the two women worked it out was clever. They had to work for the solution—it didn’t just happen. I really didn’t feel a heart-pounding terror during the climax, but I did enjoy the resolution of the story.

I believe these characters will continue their adventure in another story, and I will certainly welcome the opportunity to read more about them. I really became attached to Natalie. The only other comment I would add is that I can't remember the name of this book. Every time I would try to remember it while I was reading, I just couldn't. It just doesn't mean much to me, I guess.

Published by Sourcebooks Fire, Nov. 1, 2011
eBook obtained from NetGalley. (I read part of this on my new iPad, and part on my Kindle)
336 pages

Rating: 3.5/5

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  1. This sounds very interesting but the cover doesn't seem to match the content of the book at all.

  2. I loved the classics that you mentioned in the beginning of your post (I'm actually starting Dracula for this Halloween for the first time!) and I'm very curious as how the author uses those elements from the other books into the story. It sounds very interesting and I'm definitely intrigued. I'll request it from Netgalley. Thanks for your review, Annette!

  3. Wow, I also gave this book exactly 3.5 stars! Haha, we must have very similar tastes :)

    I also thought that the plot got to be a little **too** intricate, there was just so much going on! I liked the writing style, but there were other aspects of the story that I didn't like all that much-- you can see my review on Goodreads, and I'll be posting it on my blog later in the week :)

    Lea @ LC's Adventures in Libraryland


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