Monday, March 5, 2012
Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber - YA book review and giveaway
The Story- Natalie Stewart is a young mute woman living in the late eighteen hundreds. She hasn’t spoken a word since she witnessed her mother’s death as a child, and doctors say there is nothing physically wrong with her, it’s all in her head.
Natalie’s father works at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and hires Natalie as an assistant, giving her something to do in a world where nobody knows what to make of a mute woman. Life changes when Natalie views a portrait up for auction. Lord Denbury, the subject of the painting, stirs amazing feelings of warmth and vitality within Natalie's heart. One of the bidders, Mrs. Northe, a spiritualist, tells Natalie that the painting broadcasts an aura of darkness and that it must be kept from evil hands.
As if in a dream, Natalie must touch the painting, and when she does, she finds herself inside the painting with the soul of handsome Jonathon Denbury. He tells a tale most foul, one of a body stealing demon with murderous intentions.
Completely in love, Natalie decides it is her fate to defeat the demon and save Lord Denbury from his acrylic hell.
My Thoughts- The title, Darker Still, is apt for this novel. The unfolding story of the demon and his dealings with dark magic and murder give the book a seriously “noir” type feeling. The author does a great job creating her villain. We don’t see him very often in the book, but the descriptions that Lord Denbury tells of him make him come alive in the reader's mind.
I love the character of Natalie. A mute girl living in the 1880’s had little chance of a full life. Natalie is a strong character that faces evil with the belief that it must be stopped, no matter the consequences. She goes on a journey of change, battling against her self imposed muteness, and fighting for what she believes.
The story is told in the first person, through a diary of Natalie’s. It is well done, causing the reader to forget that the story actually happened in the past and we are reading Natalie’s tale.
Lord Denbury is Natalie’s love obsession. However, he is not a very dynamic character. I think this is because we only get to see him in one setting, inside the library within the painting. Unfortunately, this left me feeling a little empty about his character and I didn’t really invest in their relationship. Luckily, the story itself is strong and I wanted to see how things ended.
This is a dark and tense read that I recommend for ages 12 and up. I just recieved an update from the author- book #2 The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart will be released by Sourcebooks in November, 2012.
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