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Darker Still: A Novel of Magic Most Foul by…

Darker Still: A Novel of Magic Most Foul (edition 2011)

by Leanna Renee Hieber

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3104035,978 (3.73)None
Title:Darker Still: A Novel of Magic Most Foul
Authors:Leanna Renee Hieber
Info:Sourcebooks Fire (2011), Edition: Original, Paperback, 336 pages
Tags:Historical Fiction, Magic

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Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber


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As I was reading this book I couldn't shake off the feeling of familiarity. The voice very much reminds me of Bram Stoker's Dracula.

Beautiful Gothic novel, full of charm and eery events. Natalie's descriptions of what's happening around her create a unique atmosphere....

A beautiful young man trapped in a portrait, an evil demon stalking the darkest alleys of New York and killing prostitutes, empty corridors of the Metropolitan Museum, secret societies, arcane knowledge and a sense of urgency in deciphering a puzzle of Jonathan Denbury's curse, - Leanna has certainly written one of a kind YA novel.

Jonathan and Natalie are very sweet together, and Natalie is definitely not your average girl. She is brave, smart and very resourceful.

Because of the nature of the book, it's a slow read. I kept putting it away to read something different, but in the end I was enormously glad I didn't give up on this book. It's well worth it. ( )
  kara-karina | Nov 20, 2015 |
I have long been in love with Ms. Hieber's work, ever since I got to pet the ARC of her first novel. I have also gotten to meet this wonderful author in person a few times and Ms. Heiber is nothing less than sparkling. Sorry, I just really heart her. Anyway, on with the book.

The Goodreads synopsis says "The Picture of Dorian Gray meets Pride and Prejudice, with a dash of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." I read Pride and Prejudice; I have long been in love with the debauched Dorian Gray, and the only contact I have had with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are the Beth Fantasky books and the movie The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

I can see the pieces of each novel in her work and even in some areas Ms. Hieber's novel feels like a tribute to these great classics, most especially Dorian Gray (who is one of my all time favorite characters). I loved the tribute factor in this book most of all. It felt a lot like the tribute factor in Northanger Abbey, not as clumbsy but still heartbreakingly beautiful.

Let's get into the characters. I adored Lord Denbury. He has a major role but he doesn't get a lot of action in terms of how much action Natalie gets throughout the book. I know it was hard for him to watch her be in harm's way but I loved that she is the front runner to saving HIM. Nice mix-up. I also adore Natalie she is a strong young women and a perfect role model to every young women who needs the strength to figure out who they are.

Some of the best parts of the book were the fact that it is written in journal style (there is word for it, I will look it up when I have access to a proper working computer). I felt a more intimate connection with Natalie through her journal. I loved the fact that Ms. Hieber gives us plenty for a sequel but doesn't leave us on a cliffhanger. I adored every bit of this novel and can't wait for the next one.

( )
  rosetyper9 | Nov 12, 2015 |
DNF at 50%.

This is one of those books that makes me so mad that I just want to say, "I don't wanna talk about it."

But, I must. People need to be warned.

All I really feel like doing right now is raging about how much this book aroused intense feelings of extreme dislike and displeasure inside me, so much so that it was a challenge to finish the book. I really, really want to start ranting about how much this author messed up her seemingly brilliant story by sprinkling trite YA characteristics and thereby ruined a historical novel I was very much looking forward to.

Which is exactly what I'm about to do.

Rant mode: on.

Guess what my favorite part of the novel was? The insta-love! What’s a novel without insta-love? Being the teenage girl I am, I simply can’t bear to read a book with a slow-developing romance. My hormones need to be kept satisfied with a mysterious male interest with striking blue eyes who falls deeply in lust love with the heroine! I mean, what else is the point of reading?? In case you didn't notice, that paragraph was oozing with sarcasm.

I’m really tired of this. Like, genuinely sick of this to the point where the insta-love can force me to drop the book altogether. Hear that, publishers? Just because these books are marketed to teens, does not mean that it must have insta-love in one form or another in order for it to be “engaging”. If I hear that authors use this technique in order to attract a YA audience, I may just burn all the insta-love books printed all over the world. Do they realize how demeaning this is to me and others of my age? My hormones aren't controlling my reading tastes, you know. I’m not that shallow to only want these kinds of things in my books, I expect more, as I’m sure is a fact most of the reader population can back up.

On top of this ridiculousness, everything that occurs happens only because the heroine was attracted to the dashing man. Every. Single. Action was influenced by him, directly or indirectly. So if the painting was an old guy, she wouldn't have been interested at all?

What infuriated me further was the fact that Natalie declared her love for him at 20%. I kid you not. She didn't know him personally, she hadn't even met him; she had only seen his painting and deemed her obsession with it as love.

Up until this point, I didn't think things could get any worse.

Inevitably, they did.

When she goes in the painting and is with her “true love”, she is able to speak and is no longer mute. Well, whoop-de-doo. How terribly convenient. It’s definitely meant 2 be, guys.

They also dream with each other; they see and talk with each other in their dreams. Because it can’t be completely hackneyed without all the ingredients, can it? There was absolutely no point to these meetings. It’s pretty obvious why the author chose to contain these pointless encounters.

”The moment I saw you, my world shimmered, like bright light through dark water. Like an angel.

*barfs* Hallmark cards have less cheesy quotes than this book.

Usually, with these kinds of books, amidst all the crap, I would admit that the plot was decent or at least mildly interesting. Nope, that’s not the case with Darker Still. Besides the annoying fact that the basis of the plot is a girl trying to save a hot guy, it’s tedious as well. It gets repetitive. No one wants to read a repetitive plot, especially people with a very bad attention span, such as yours truly.

I refuse to give the author credit for trying to make her story different, because

a) the plot isn't even interesting
b) the book is so heavily weighed by tropes that it’s impossible to pay attention to anything else.

Darker Still is written in first-person, journal format. Boy, did it read as a textbook. Natalie’s voice was only giving us the facts and relaying the information with little to no emotion in the words. Realistically, most people don’t write like this in their journals. It’s a place to put their thoughts; as far as I know, that’s what people use a journal for.

I’m not saying the writing is bad; it just needs more emotion and passion. We want to read about her inner conflicts. It read more like a third person narrative, which would probably have been a better fit for this novel.

At least we wouldn't have had to read through her lusting over him and his blue eyes.

In the past, I've read worse books in the genre. But I’m at my wit’s end, and I really don’t want to read books like this. Please, authors, stop filling your books with unoriginal elements. Please, for all of us book-lovers.
( )
  Summer_Missfictional | May 23, 2014 |
I did enjoy this story of a girl and her adventures with the occult or paranormal. I call it occult because she does have to deal with the side effects of dark magic and work against it, reminding me of some of the stories of Dion Fortune, among others. The story of someone being trapped in a painting is an obvious homage to Oscar Wilde's Dorian Gray, and this is an interesting variation on the story without being slavish.

Natalie Stewart is not long out of school, a school for deaf mutes, as she is mute since her mother died. There is no physiological reason for her to be mute, but she is. She can communicate using sign language and notes, this book is written as a diary. The school is a great excuse for her missteps in society and having to explain some of victorian society to the reader.

When Natalie happens on the painting of Lord Denbury, a supposed suicide, she's attracted to it and is surprised when she discovers that he's alive inside it, while his body commits terrible murders, with someone or something else inhabiting it. This is her journey to rescue her prince and herself.

I loved it, loved the characters and their interaction and wanted a bit more from it. It could have done with a bit more, a little more of a feeling of peril, a bit more growth of the relationship with the characters and a bit more work on Mrs. Northe's part to convince Natalie of her credentials. Still I did enjoy the read and look forward to more by this author. ( )
  wyvernfriend | Sep 11, 2013 |
This one just didn't make any sense to me. Wow, she fell for the guy in the painting quickly, etc., etc. Very disappointing. ( )
  Dauntless | Apr 17, 2013 |
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To all who have struggled to make their voices heard, historically and presently.
First words
To whoever should have the misfortune to review this closed--but still unresolved--case, I extend my condolences.
June 1, 1880
Sister Theresa handed me this farewell gift with such relief that it might as well have been a key to her shackles.
But it was only a dream after all, and in dreams, one may fancy her hero as she pleases, her hero who slams and locks the door against her nightmares.
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It was as if he called to me, demanding I reach out and touch the brushstrokes of color swirled onto the canvas. It was the most exquisite portrait I'd ever seen- everything about Lord Denbury was unbelievable...utterly breathtaking and eerily lifelike. There was a reason for that. Because despite what everyone said, Denbury never had committed suicide. He was alive. Trapped within his golden frame. I've crossed over into his world within the painting, and I've seen what dreams haunt him. They haunt me too. He and I are inextricably linked- bound together to watch the darkness seeping through the gas-lit cobblestone streets of Manhattan. And unless I can free him soon, things will only get Darker Still.--From back cover.… (more)

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