People say not to judge a book by its cover. But is it okay to pick up a bit simply because the cover might be more than gorgeous? You see, it was kind of love at first sight for me and Darker Still. Just because of a more than interesting cover... 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber
3.5 out of 5 stars
Summary from Goodreads: 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.
Natalie Stewart is by far the most unique protagonist ever. Of course, that's not necessarily a bad thing. She's just different. You see, Natalie's mute. While it makes some people weaker, it made Natalie stronger. She's brave, intelligent, smart and genuinely likeable. And considering the era, it's quite rare to find a girl like her. (See, unique is totally a good thing!)
And with unique protagonists come unique plots. It isn't everyday that you read a book involving a man trapped in a painting by a demon. Not to mention that the man desperately needs saving by a girl who can enter the painting. Add Egyptian hieroglyphs and a French poem to get a wicked puzzle and an outstanding plot! This plot is as unique as its protagonist!
However, I thought that Denbury was just okay. Sure he has amazing looks and a bit of charm, but I also thought that he was kind of plain. He doesn't have a unique personality, not in the way that he stands out. He's just your average almost perfect love interest that everyone loves. Not that I don't like Denbury, of course. I just need to get to know him better.
I love the fact that the book is literally Natalie's diary. This way it gives the author an way to not seem flowery like most books set in this period seem. Yet there's still an old-fashioned feel, which I totally admire. There's a few modern words slipped in, but in the diary it seems totally right. Writing like that takes skill.
The setting is pretty awesome! I love the time frame and the location of this novel. It's always fun to imagine the dresses and the carriages of the late 1800's. Not only that, but it's in New York! That means the beginning of a certain museum all artsy people know, which is all the better! I love reading about the start of it all; it's fresh, new and totally absorbing.
You can definitely read Darker Still as a stand-alone, which is really nice. So if you don't like it, you can just read this book by itself, and it'll already have a nice ending. The ending's relatively concluding and happy, so it's totally fine by itself!
And Denbury, I still think you're just okay...