Monday, November 14, 2011

Darker Still- Leanna Renee Hieber

This is a book about a girl who falls in love with a painting.

Okay, maybe that's not the most accurate description, but basically, Natalie sees this painting of this Lord Denbury character, and somehow the painting is communicating with her.

So Natalie, a mute but pretty middle class girl in Victorian New York City, is introduced to the fabulously wealthy and somewhat eccentric Mrs Northe, who knows all kinds of amazing things about magic and spiritualism  and gets away with her weird meddling because she is fabulously wealthy.

Mrs Northe is very aware that there is something about this painting that is not normal.  She is determined to keep it out of the hands of people who practice foul magic as opposed to the helpful type that interests her.  She also discovers that Natalie is important to the process of discovering the mystery of the painting.
Most young women who see that painting act like preteen girls who scream about Justin Bieber, but only Natalie can actually communicate with it.  Even though she's mute.

Things start to get weird, and soon enough, Natalie finds she can go inside the painting, and while she's there, she can talk, too.

So a lot of the book consists of Natalie hopping into this painting and talking to the dashing young British Lord who is trapped inside.

I was somewhat disappointed with the book, which I had been looking forward to forever.  This could just mean that I need to read a different type of book, one that doesn't have a pretty teenage outcast girl becoming the love interest of a dashing and swoon-worthy man.  There seems to be a lot of that these days.  I'm getting a little sick of romance, I think.

The setting was pretty cool, however- I have always been intrigued by those stories about people trapped in paintings which do not get told too often.  They're so creepy.  I really like the creepy.

The story incorporated just about every form of religion and spirituality- Christianity was combined with Egyptian mythology, and there was all this Latin, so it was just all over the place.  I was surprised Buddha did not make an appearance.  Since Mrs Northe was just so interested in EVERYTHING, she was this fountain of information that wouldn't be useful in the real world unless you were taking your finals for a liberal arts degree.

This may sound petty, but I got annoyed with the characters because they didn't like Baudelaire's poetry.  I hate most poetry EXCEPT for Baudelaire.  And maybe a little Lewis Carroll.  But that's it.  And they're all, 'oh, how I hate Baudelaire!' and I wanted to be like 'man, you people are so SQUARE!' Though I suppose that they are Victorian, so they're just normally like that no matter what.  Stupid Victorians.

There's also a part about how someone is using Lord Denbury's body to kill people.  So that makes things complicated. And dire. And foul. So of course Natalie and Mrs Northe must use their otherwise useless specialized educations to solve the issue and free Lord Denbury.

There will be more in this series, but I'm not sure I'll read them.  I guess I thought the protagonists were too well-behaved and I like my characters with a touch of the nefarious in them.

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