Darker Still

Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber
(Magic Most Foul #1)
Published: 11-8-2011 by Sourcebooks Fire
Get the book: AmazonThe Book Depository

I was obsessed.

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. Unless I can free him soon, things will only get Darker Still.

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Design – Andrea C. Uva     Photo – Patrick Fleischman      Rating – 3/5

I like the dark feel of this cover. Everything’s ornate and rich colors. The colors are beautiful and I like the pose with the girl stepping into the frame while looking behind her sort of warily. I also like the light coming from the painting, like she’s forming a portal into that world.

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Darker Still is sort of a retelling of The Picture of Dorian Gray, but it has very little to do with the actual story of Dorian Gray. I’d say it’s a story inspired by Dorian Gray. I really like Natalie because she’s brave and a bit mischievous. She finds herself able to step into the mysterious portrait of Lord Denbury, where the two work together to free his spirit from the painting.

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  • Natalie – Natalie is a mute young woman who’s ambitious and searching for her place in the world. She’s living with her father after returning from boarding school and trying to figure out what to do with herself in an era when women weren’t allowed to do much and being a mute isn’t helping. Natalie is daring and determined. She’s smart and knows that she can do much more than people think she can. When she finds her voice, literally, in Denbury’s painting, Natalie risks everything in order to free Denbury from the dark magic trapping him. Natalie is afraid of the darkness harming Denbury and she has her own nightmares, but she doesn’t hesitate to do whatever she can to help.
  • Mrs. Northe – It’s a little unclear how Mrs. Northe knows so much about supernatural creepy things, but she is so great. Mrs. Northe knows something is strange with Denbury’s portrait and she knows there’s something special about Natalie. She pushes Natalie to connect with Denbury and figure out what’s trapping him and if the Denbury in the painting is trustworthy. Mrs. Northe also doesn’t bat an eye about Natalie’s lack of speech – she just busts out her sign language skills.
  • mystery – The dark demonic twin of Denbury is roaming the city killing young ladies, but is the Denbury in the portrait being completely honest with Natalie? The world of the painting is strange – somewhere between 2D and 3D, a world where Natalie can speak with ease, but it also opens a door to nightmares. The demon has the power to physically harm Denbury and there are many different magical measures trapping Denbury in the painting. Natalie and Mrs. Northe have to work really hard to decipher strange symbols and curses to free this man who can’t free himself. 

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  • Maggie – Mrs. Northe’s niece Maggie is annoying and shallow. Natalie is eager to be included in Maggie’s slightly higher class world, while Mrs. Northe treats Maggie with disdain. Although Maggie makes a tiny appearance in the climax, she feels like an unnecessary addition to the novel. Whenever Natalie was with Maggie it was just not interesting to me.
  • sexy times – This is set in Victorian times. Natalie goes around in fancy dresses and gloves, so everything is super proper. Natalie is, at first, blushing just from touching Denbury’s hand because that’s the most contact she’s ever had with a guy. And Denbury is meant to be a lord, which means he was raised in etiquette and high society. Considering all of these influences of the times, Natalie and Denbury get physical pretty quickly. I thought they moved too fast. Denbury’s been stuck in this painting and Natalie’s the only person he has contact with, while Natalie may have never spoken to a guy before. So the two of them sneaking off the edge of the portrait to get handsy was strange. 

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But, as with many things in my life of late, the shadows were a bit off. Surreal. Full of a life one would not expect of shadows.

Cast by carriages and their horses, by persons young and old, men in top hats and women with too many ruffles on their skirts to be practical, the shadows swirled like mist or a drop of ink into water.       – pg. 169

I shuddered. I now knew enough of ghost stories to fear far more than whispers and white lace.     – pg. 250

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4 Robots

Acquired: bought (ebook)

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