Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber

Release Date: 8th November, 2011

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Pages: 320pgs

The Story

The Picture of Dorian Gray meets Pride & 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 Review

A big thanks to SourceBooks on netGalley for accepting my request in reading this book early!

I've had this book on my to-read wishlist for a while now and when netGalley accepted my request, I was super excited to start reading this book. DARKER STILL is a fantastic Gothic-like paranormal story set in a Victorian world of New York City. And I loved it completely.

The story is told through seventeen-year-old Natalie Stewart who is a beautiful and an intelligent young girl. But since witnessing her mother's death as a child, Natalie has never been the same. She can't speak. With her father unsure how to handle her well-being and with Natalie spending most of her childhood in an asylum - for people suffering with mental illness - when Natalie eventually moves back to live with her father, she's not so sure where to fit into a society where marriage is expected from a young woman at her age. Plus, like I mentioned before, she's unable to speak and who would want to marry her if she has this 'disability'? However, with her father working at the Museum of Art, she manages to convince him in getting her a job there and that's when everything changes.

Behold the painting of Lord Denbury - the gilded painting Natalie becomes obsessed with. She knows of the mystery surrounding the painting and how it's supposedly 'haunted' but she remains fascinated by the detail inside the picture. With more and more time spent with this Lord Denbury, Natalie discovers something more sinister; Lord Denbury's soul - his real soul - is trapped inside the painting and this young girl is his only hope to break the curse.

On a whole, I thought Natalie's character was a superb heroine. She's smart, resourceful, brave, and strong. Throughout the course of the book her character develops by each chapter and despite the many terrible things she witnesses and experiences, Natalie continues to remain determined in freeing Lord Denbury. Also it's great to have a female heroine rescuing the male hero - it's a nice change around for a Victorian-based novel. I also love the fact DARKER STILL is set in a Victorian New York, and again with the change, I liked that it wasn't set in the usual 1800's London which we see a lot in YA fiction. As for the character's love interest, Lord Denbury, I really liked him. He's handsome, knows how to make a young lady fall hopelessly in-love with him, and of course, he's extremely passionate when it comes to Natalie. What's not to love? Now I'm not sure whether this is a standalone book or a potential series, but according to goodreads there's another book, so I'm more than happy to read future books . . . I'm all for it.

Without revealing the special little details of the book, I'm very intrigued by how DARKER STILL reminded me so much of my favourite book classic The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. I'm assuming the author was inspired by his story (as the author mentioned Gray in her acknowledgements page) and for that inspiration alone I fell even more in love with this book because I'm a huge Wilde fan. So I would recommend this book to Wilde fans, fans of a strong female heroine who fights for her man and pretty much anyone who loves a good old paranormal twist in a good old-fashioned New York City. Oh and a handsome Victorian gentleman of course. We can't get enough of those, can we?

The Rating

5/5 stars


  1. "The Picture of Dorian Gray meets Pride & Prejudice, with a dash of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." SOLD! These are some of my favorite books. I will be getting on NetGalley TODAY! =)

  2. Can't wait to hear your thoughts. Those three books are my favourites too. :)

  3. You know, I'm not usually a huge fan of historical fiction, but you've got me convinced that I have to read this one! It sounds fab and Natalie seems like a great main character. Great review!

  4. This one sounds so good. I love anything historical so I'm definitely hoping I'll enjoy this one when I read it. Great review!

  5. I just heard about this book from someone's IMM yesterday and I requested it from netgalley right away. This is the first review I read on it and it made me want to read it even more! Can't wait for it!

  6. Liz: It's not everyone's cup of tea. But definitely check this one out.

    Tiffany: Thanks.

    Kristina: Hopefully you'll get to read this book from netgalley. It's a great one.

  7. I've had this on my wishlist for months too and I'm so excited to hear it lives up to expectations. It sounds fantastic and I'm definitely due for a fresh dose of historical, I don't read them nearly as much.

    Love the the whole 'soul trapped in a painting' curse. Can't wait to read this, awesome review!!

  8. Brodie: Thanks! Hope you love this book too!

  9. I agree that it's great when the girl saves the boy. I'm a big Oscar Wilde fan too. I loved the Dorian Gray book when I read it in college. Definitely curious about this one.


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