Monday, April 1, 2013

Review: Darker Still (Leanna Renee Hieber)

Darker Still (Magic Most Foul, #1)
Title: Darker Still
Series: Magic Most Foul, Book 1
Author: Leanna Renee Hieber
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: November 8, 2011
Genre: Young Adult Historical Paranormal Romance
Content Rating: Older Teen (sensuality and minor sexuality, minor language, drug use, violence and minor gore)
Format Read: Paperback (library)
Find It OnGoodreads
SummaryI 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.

*          *          *

Writing: Relatively solid and engaging; the voice was easy to follow. It was told in journal form, but way too detailed (with lengthy descriptions and actual conversations) to feel realistic.

Setting: The historical setting felt authentic enough, and I never felt particularly lost or out of place. The magical elements never felt overly unnatural.

Story: It began interesting, all spiritualism and hinting of Dorian Gray. I was intrigued by the painting and how it came to be, along with Natalie's ailment. But by the middle, the mystery became overly complicated, the mixing of religions and their "jealous gods" enough to lose both my comprehension and my interest. The sequence of events by themselves were straightforward and easy to follow - maybe a little too simple, given the tangle of the mystery. The final showdown was highly uncomplicated and therefore unbelievable, considering all the trouble the demon went to, but by then I'd lost all interest and just wanted the dreaded thing over with.

Characters: Natalie was an interesting-enough character, brave and empowered despite her "disability." I would have liked something more magical to have come of her loss of voice, though (it seemed a golden opportunity to me). As with most female leads these days, Natalie fell too hard in love for my taste, but she was a strong character who did what she had to in order to save the man she loved. I never really got a handle on Lord Denbury - I never saw the whole picture with him (pardon the apt term). I can tell you, however, that he was breathtakingly handsome (ugh), for we were reminded of it at least once a page. I actually felt I got a clearer picture of the demon, even though he barely came into the frame (again, pardon the term). Motherly mentor Mrs. Northe was, despite all my hopes, nothing more, which was good for Natalie but not for me. I did, however, find Mrs. Northe's spiritualism in the shadow of Christianity quite intriguing, and liked her despite her shortcomings.

Favorite Thing: To my surprise and delight, Mrs. Northe was a believer of the Japanese "Hitsuzen," the concept of fate and how, when something is meant to happen, or someones are meant to meet, it happens. It's always interesting to see concepts cross time and cultures like that.

Conclusion: Although I'm not much for stories told in journal, my interest was engaged early on and I settled in for what I thought would be an enjoyable read. But by the middle, the story became unnecessarily complicated and slogged something awful. The book suddenly felt "long enough," and wasn't it time this all ended, yet I still had half a book remaining. T-T I almost gave up, but forced myself to finish, sure that it would be worth it in the end. Yet the climactic end turned out to be far too simple for the buildup - lofty promises were made, but the results were far from equal. When I finally closed the book, I felt let down, almost cheated for all the time and eventual struggle to finish what became a rather torturous book.

Recommend?: If you like historical journals about magic with very steamy romance.

Scribble Rating
2 of 5 Scribbles


  1. Great review! Sounds like an interesting one with some concepts that a lot of other books wouldn't think to touch on!

  2. O was actually going to read this but now I think I won't. It sounds to wierd for my tastes. Thank you for the review. It was helpful