Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber

Darker Still
Author: Leanna Renee Hieber
Genre: Young Adult
Format: ebook
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: 11-1-11
Seventeen year old Natalie Stewart has not spoken since her mother died.  Beautiful, smart and interested in earning, she communicates by sign or by writing.  In 19th century New York, someone with her condition as usually sent away, but Natalie is determined to make a life for herself.  When a mysterious painting is obtained by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, her father allows her to become involved in learning about its origins.  Natalie soon find out that the portrait of the handsome Lord is actually his prison and it is up to her to free him.

Darker Still brings the world of 19th century New York to life through a tale of  murder, magic and romance  Natalie is mute and her doting father goes against the custom of the day by bringing her home from the sanatorium and allowing her to attempt a “normal” life. (It was not uncommon for people with disabilities to be sent away from their families.)  I like Natalie as a character.  She is timid and shy, at first, but circumstances force her to grow and she becomes confident and brave by the end.  When she befriends Mrs. Northe and her niece, Maggie, you get a sense of how isolated Natalie’s condition made her feel, socially, which adds a touching dimension to the story.  Trapped in the painting, Lord Denbury is as appealing and handsome as any 19th century hero you can imagine and his nemesis is equally as evil. 

I loved the idea behind this book, but it became mired down in scenes of dialog examining every detail of the painting which slowed the pace for me.  The action, when it occurred, was very exciting, and left you wanting more.  The story is told through Natalie’s diary, which was unique, but I would have liked some perspective on the inner thoughts of some of the other characters, as well.  I enjoyed the story, the setting and hope that his was the groundwork for an interesting and adventurous series.

This book earned 3 birds.
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I received this book as a galley from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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Kate @ Ex Libris

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