Monday, November 7, 2011

Darker Still, Moving Into the Light

Published: November 1st, 2011
Darker Still: A Novel of Magic Most Foul
By: Leanna Renee Hieber
Sourcebooks, Incorporated
ISBN-13: 9781402260537

The Picture of Dorian Gray meets Pride and Prejudice, with a dash of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

New York City, 1882. Seventeen-year-old Natalie Stewart's latest obsession is a painting of the handsome British Lord Denbury. Something in his striking blue eyes calls to her. As his incredibly life-like gaze seems to follow her, Natalie gets the uneasy feeling that details of the painting keep changing...

Jonathan Denbury's soul is trapped in the gilded painting by dark magic while his possessed body commits unspeakable crimes in the city slums. He must lure Natalie into the painting, for only together can they reverse the curse and free his damaged soul.


   The story is definitely all that the summary claims and more!  It was told entirely through Natalie's pov with her diary entries, newspaper articles and the occasional letter/note.  I was not expecting much although I was excited to read this book from the start.  Natalie is a girl living with her Father, recently home from boarding school for the deaf, blind, and mute.  Ever since her Mother was killed in a carriage accident when she was a child, she has been unable to speak at all.  Her Father works at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and a painting of a mysterious young man named Lord Denbury is all the rage in society, because it is said to be haunted.  Natalie decides that he must acquire it for the museum and she is determined to make sure it happens.  She becomes acquainted with Mrs. Evelyn Northe, who is bidding on the painting and her niece Maggie.  Mrs. Northe decides to loan out the painting and crazy things begin to happen.  Natalie is able to go into the painting and she finds out that Lord Denbury's soul is trapped inside, while a demon possesses his physical body, committing atrocious acts of violence.  Natalie must overcome her own problems with speech and bravery so that she can help to banish the demon and save Denbury's soul from destruction.  I respect Ms. Hieber sooooooo much!  There were no ridiculous love triangles and both Natalie and Johnathon Denbury were relatable, beautifully flawed people.  They truly were perfect for one another.  This was the most suspenseful, swoonworthy, well-written historical romance I've ever read! Plus one of my best books of the year. It will make you laugh, hold your breath and fight back tears. Worth buying and owning permanently by far! Evelyn Northe is the perfect supporting character and provides much needed humor and compassion to Natalie throughout the novel.  My favorite passage is from Mrs. Northe to Denbury and Natalie: "There's magic about the two of you, yes. Just don't be desperate about it. That's where souls go wrong, when they think they don't have choices. The heart must make choices."   Another favorite from near the ending is:  "There, awake, at the door of my train car, was Lord Johnathon Denbury, real and in the gorgeous flesh, holding out his hand for me.  I stared at him.  I was the girl he'd asked for.  'Yes, you,' he murmured with an irresistible grin.  And here I conclude."  If that doesn't convince you to read this beautiful treasure, I don't know what will!  I was almost streaming at the end.  I am absolutely dying for the next book in the series, I cannot wait to see what happens to Denbury and Natalie next, what adventures they embark on.  Highly recommended

VERDICT:  5/5 Stars and My Entire Heart 

*I received an Advanced Reading E-book Copy from the publisher, via NetGalley.  No money was exchanged for this review.  This book is now available in select stores and online.*

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