Darker Still

Written by Leanna Renee Hieber
Review by Magdalen Dobson

Inspired by The Picture of Dorian Grey, Darker Still begins a series aimed towards readers ages 12 and over. Mute since witnessing her mother’s death at the age of four, Natalie Stewart has spent all her life in a convent school for unfortunates such as herself. Now, she is living in Manhattan with her father and working with the Acquisitions department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. And there’s one particular acquisition that has caught perhaps more than just her eye – a life-size portrait of the young, handsome Lord Denbury, a tragic suicide. She imagines that his eyes follow her around the room and even goes so far as to think that she notices tiny changes in the painting from day to day. Through her own ingenuity and the help of her mystic friend, Mrs. Northe, she discovers that he is indeed transient within the portrait, the victim of a terrible curse which dooms his soul to imprisonment in the picture while his possessed body commits atrocities in the city. What’s more, Natalie herself may be the only person who can save him. Although I found the premise of this book superb, I am sad to say that it did not live up to my expectations. The main criticism I would make is that while the writing itself was geared towards younger readers, some aspects of the content seemed too mature for them. The “love at first sight” cliché was also altogether too rampant in the story for my tastes. However, the atmosphere of the book was quite masterfully crafted, and Hieber did well at working Natalie’s disability into the plot without letting it dominate. In short, I would recommend it as a recreational read for those ages 14 and over.