Oct 26, 2011

*Early Review--Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber*

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.

I received this e-ARC courtesy of Netgalley for review

I've read Leanna Renee Hieber's Percy books so when I heard of her YA debut, Darker Still I became immediately interested! I mean who wouldn't? A girl able to enter a painting where a young man's soul is trapped?

This book totally blew me away. First off, Natalie is mute. Ever since she was 4 and her mother died she's been this way, so she's sort of an outcast. Yet when she enters the painting that holds Jonathon Denbury she's able to speak in the alternate reality. It soon becomes apparent that Jonathon is in trouble. He's trapped in a painting, obviously. And there's something out there in the real world walking around with his body.

Natalie was quite the character. I didn't know what to expect from her since she tells us she's mute. Her story is told via her diary and it's done remarkably well. I've read "diary" books before and have enjoyed them. I got so immersed in the story that I forgot it was a diary entry at times. Natalie is a strong young woman. She knows how to hold her own, despite being mute and having people treat her differently.

When she first hears of the painting going up for bids, she wants her father, who owns the Met, to buy it. There's something about the painting that speaks to her. But a Mrs. Northe is interested in the painting too and she has the money to afford it. Yet she wasn't a callous character, in fact she becomes a good friend to Natalie despite her being older. Mrs. Northe has incredible knowledge of the unknown and Natalie turns to her when she begins traveling into the painting. Soon it's up to them to work together to free Jonathon from his prison and defeat the evil that's walking around in his body.

It was an incredible story! At times though I will admit the pacing was a little slow. Especially towards the end. There were added accounts, such as letters and whatnot that were "added" to the diary to give us more of a conclusion. Which in a way was nice, some of it just seemed a little dragging. Not a whole lot mind you! Just a tad! But I was so enchanted with the idea of Natalie being able to travel through the painting when no one else could.

The ending does leave a few things open. Who knows where this series might go. And according to Goodreads, it does appear to be a series.

Overall rating 4/5 stars

Darker Still releases November 1, 2011

This one can also count for my 2011 Debut Authors Challenge, even though I already completed it! Yay!


  1. Haha, I noticed the same thing about the dragging too! Like you said, it wasn't horrible or anything, but I compared it to the end of the Lord of the Rings movie, where there's like 4 different points where you **think** it's the end but it keeps on going, lol-- it was a good story I thought, despite some of the longer parts!

    Lea @ LC's Adventures in Libraryland

  2. AH! I can't wait to read this one. I hope I get accepted on Netgalley soon! Natalie sounds like such a great character, I can't wait to read about her.

    Thanks for the review Jessica!

  3. I was just so-so with this one. I didn't find anything in particular that I just didn't like, but I never felt strong feelings about anything either. I gave it 3/5 stars. Glad you liked it more than I!


Comments are an award all on their own! So my blog is an award free one! Thanks for any consideration though!