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.
From the back cover:
“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. And unless I can free him soon, things will only get darker still..."
How could I resist? Pride and Prejudice and Dorian Grey are two of my favourite classic tales (The Literary Cannon has its uses! hehehee) However when I was given this ARC I was not the first member of my family to read it! Minxy Mummy said that looks good and snaffled it out from under my nose and took it home! I had to go and steal it back from her. I did allow her to read it though, because I am nice like that, and she thought it was ' really good' which is Mum language for I loved it. Which is good, because I finished it this morning and I agree, I loved it!
It is great and a unique idea, a young girl to save a man trapped in a painting and love blossoms, add to that supernatural beliefs of different nations, demons and spirits and I am sold! The characters are well crafted and believable, Natalie is sincere and innocent and we watch her grow as a person as the novel develops, she becomes a heroine in the true sense of the word, battling evil whist shaking in her boots but refusing to give in. Danbury is gallant and a gentleman, but with a passionate edge that shows you he would be an interesting man to know. In some sense he is a man led by his passions, but one who had learned that to follow blindly will lead to disaster. Now he has a passion for Natalie, and his freedom.
The supporting characters are equally intriguing, particularly Mrs Northe and her niece Maggie. I am wondering how they will develop in future novels, some lovely teasers were dropped into this book, I want to know more about Mr Bentrop, why was he in Egypt, why did he want the painting so much? I could be way off the mark, but I do want to know more. I do love it when a story is resolved but leaves the reader wondering and further questions. To me that is the sign of a great read.
I don't read and recommend much YA, but I do recommend this, why? Firstly is is great and well written with believable characters which give an insight into to the supernatural superstitions of Victoriana, secondly because the appeal is generational, from 12 to 92. Lets put it this way Minxy Mummy is in her 60s and she loved it. I loved it. I hope everybody loves it.
Ok, ramble time usually means I need to finish this off, so here goes, Darker Still is a great read by a talented author and I hope it becomes a modern classic! There, I said it. I hope all who read the book, enjoy it as much as I did. I give it 5 frillies out of 5!