{Review & Autographed Giveaway} DARKER STILL by Leanna Renee Hieber

I was supposed to review it today for the tour, but I didn't have a lot of time to read this weekend,
so instead, you get a review of the first book AND an autographed giveaway because I was lucky enough to meet Leanna Renee Hieber when DARKER STILL first came out!
There's also a great blog tour post up from Leanna that includes a giveaway to win TWISTED TRAGEDY.  Check it out and enter now!

O P E N I N G H O O K:

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.  I'm a burden to her no more.  Someone else will have to glue her desk drawers closed and exchange her communion wine for whiskey.  But now I trade the prison of the asylum for another.  The prison of home.
(Page 1, US paperback edition)

I was first intrigued by DARKER STILL because it has deep roots in Oscar Wilde's THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY.  I love me some Oscar Wilde!  How awesome is it that someone's rebooting that into something modern?  While the portrait doesn't age and the story isn't the same, there are definitely similar elements, and the man trapped within the painting is still affected by what's happening in the outside world.

I honestly didn't know what to expect when I went into this one.  I  know I didn't expect to find out that the narrative was being written down because the main character, Natalie, is mute.  Plus, um...she's mute.  How often do you see that these days?  You don't.  So very cool.  In a world where those who are mute, deaf, etc., are locked away in special asylums, Natalie is lucky because she's able to return to her doting father's world.  There, she finds herself immersed in the mystery of a painting rumored to be haunting.  In investigating, she falls into the painting and finds that Lord Denbury is a real person with an imposter running around Society in his body doing dastardly deeds.  Natalie takes it upon herself to return him to our world and save the innocents being killed by the doppelgänger...before she finds herself in the morgue.

DARKER STILL has been promoted as deliciously gothic, and it's absolutely the truth.  There's mystery, intrigue, and horror, all wrapped up in one.  Natalie is refreshingly independent in a world that still favors obedience in women.  Being mute helps her slip away, because not much is expected of her.  She even has the audacity to dress up like a male and step into seedier parts of town at one point in order to solve the mystery!   I loved her tenacity, and my heart panged for her plight.  She also grew a lot as a character.  While some developmental parts toward the end felt a little rushed, it was due to the nature of being written down by Natalie and not experienced outright, so that's forgivable.  That isn't to say that the book is in a "Dear Diary" format, because it's not.  If you read the above hook, you'll see the writing style implemented throughout.

I really liked the parallels and the way that the two main characters, Miss Natalie Stewart and Lord Jonathon Denbury were both trapped in very different ways.  Denbury was, of course, physically trapped within a painting, and Natalie was mute and unable to fully be embraced by society.  Only together within the painting could they be themselves and work together to better their circumstances.    I also liked the way the curse broke down and became so much about its elements, which I again, hadn't been expecting to come across.  It was, at times, convoluted and felt like a bit "much," but I could appreciate the depth and length author Leanna Renee Hieber went through to create something so sturdy and deadly.

The next book in the Magic Most Foul series, THE TWISTED TRAGEDY OF MISS NATALIE STEWART, just released, and I've finally had time to dip into it.  Hopefully, that review is coming tomorrow!
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

This cover shows off a pivotal element of the novel; the fact that the main character can walk in and out of a painting.  It's intriguing to see, especially the way she's peering back at us and looking slightly nervous.  I also like the way light is illuminating around her body.  Definitely a lot of intrigue here!  

This book may have pretty dress syndrome, but it's not jumping on the band wagon.  It takes place in 1880, so of course there's a pretty dress!  If anything, it might be too modern...but still stunning...and purple!
O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Leanna Renee Hieber
Release Date: Nov. 8, 2011
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Received: Purchased (At a signing, no less!)

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.

And now, enter to win an AUTOGRAPHED First Edition copy of DARKER STILL!

Contest runs through December 15th.

Good Luck and Happy Holidays!


  1. Thank you for your great review and giveaway! :)


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