Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
The Picture of Dorian Gray meets Pride & 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.
A big thanks to SourceBooks on netGalley for accepting my request in reading this book early!
I've had this book on my to-read wishlist for a while now and when netGalley accepted my request, I was super excited to start reading this book. DARKER STILL is a fantastic Gothic-like paranormal story set in a Victorian world of New York City. And I loved it completely.
The story is told through seventeen-year-old Natalie Stewart who is a beautiful and an intelligent young girl. But since witnessing her mother's death as a child, Natalie has never been the same. She can't speak. With her father unsure how to handle her well-being and with Natalie spending most of her childhood in an asylum - for people suffering with mental illness - when Natalie eventually moves back to live with her father, she's not so sure where to fit into a society where marriage is expected from a young woman at her age. Plus, like I mentioned before, she's unable to speak and who would want to marry her if she has this 'disability'? However, with her father working at the Museum of Art, she manages to convince him in getting her a job there and that's when everything changes.
Behold the painting of Lord Denbury - the gilded painting Natalie becomes obsessed with. She knows of the mystery surrounding the painting and how it's supposedly 'haunted' but she remains fascinated by the detail inside the picture. With more and more time spent with this Lord Denbury, Natalie discovers something more sinister; Lord Denbury's soul - his real soul - is trapped inside the painting and this young girl is his only hope to break the curse.
On a whole, I thought Natalie's character was a superb heroine. She's smart, resourceful, brave, and strong. Throughout the course of the book her character develops by each chapter and despite the many terrible things she witnesses and experiences, Natalie continues to remain determined in freeing Lord Denbury. Also it's great to have a female heroine rescuing the male hero - it's a nice change around for a Victorian-based novel. I also love the fact DARKER STILL is set in a Victorian New York, and again with the change, I liked that it wasn't set in the usual 1800's London which we see a lot in YA fiction. As for the character's love interest, Lord Denbury, I really liked him. He's handsome, knows how to make a young lady fall hopelessly in-love with him, and of course, he's extremely passionate when it comes to Natalie. What's not to love? Now I'm not sure whether this is a standalone book or a potential series, but according to goodreads there's another book, so I'm more than happy to read future books . . . I'm all for it.
Without revealing the special little details of the book, I'm very intrigued by how DARKER STILL reminded me so much of my favourite book classic The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. I'm assuming the author was inspired by his story (as the author mentioned Gray in her acknowledgements page) and for that inspiration alone I fell even more in love with this book because I'm a huge Wilde fan. So I would recommend this book to Wilde fans, fans of a strong female heroine who fights for her man and pretty much anyone who loves a good old paranormal twist in a good old-fashioned New York City. Oh and a handsome Victorian gentleman of course. We can't get enough of those, can we?