For Natalie Stewart, a normal life has never seemed so far away. Her only solace, Lord Jonathan Denbury, is wanted for murder. To clear his name, Denbury must return to England and assume the role of his demon doppelganger. But Natalie begins to doubt his true motives, especially as a new gentleman begins whispering in her ear. Natalie and Denbury may be able to visit each other in their dreams, but they can't escape the darkening shadows. Amid spontaneous explosions, friends turned enemies and dangerous secrets revealed, there's still a demon who has Natalie's scent, and someone is trying to resurrect the ultimate evil.
Although the cover of book one, Darker Still, is totally familiar to me, I somehow missed reading it. And by somehow, I mean it just never fit into my overloaded To-Be-Read pile. However, The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart very thoroughly brought me up to speed, and I never felt I had missed out, or was somehow out of the loop of the story.
Hieber has written a Edward Gorey-esque, Victorian drama of melancholy wistfulness. Where Gorey mocks the melancholy though, Hieber embraces it. Natalie and Jonathon are beset and entangled in a great web of evil that they are not likely to escape any time soon. Between them, and their various friends and acquaintances, they'll have to save the day, then regroup for the next onslaught. At times this felt like overkill, they're barely given two breaths of respite at any given time, but I see the style Hieber is attempting to capture, I think I would just like to see it paced out a little less frenetically so the reader has a chance to get to know the characters better.
I did really enjoy the Frankenstein element of the story line, and Hieber did a nice job of combining Gothic horror and YA love entanglements. There is definitely some finessing that can be achieved with her pacing and storytelling, for instance I'd like to be shown more and told less, but the meat of something good is here. Without a doubt The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart will appeal to a good many readers, and if it leads them onwards to more Gothic Lit than it will have been well worth the read in my opinion.
But don't just take my word for it, here's your chance to enter to win your very own copy! Open to US and Canadian mailing addresses, the first person to correctly identify this iconic scavenger hunt location wins day two of Jingle Books (also, being dropped in a secret local in Toronto!).
|hint: Very, very famous. Was trashed by rebels and refurbished by an "emperor".|
As if that's not enough of a treat, Leanna has also stopped by to talk about what inspires her about the Classics.
The first author I can recall having a profound effect on me as a pre-teen was Edgar Allan Poe. I was entranced by his stories, enraptured by his poetry. I felt like he and I saw stories with the same eyes; his ability to weave the macabre with the beautiful defined my earliest style. I’ve been a Goth girl ever since, at least in spirit. ;) And while being a Goth girl doesn’t necessarily correlate with being a Gothic novelist (Gothic literature having its own separate definition and trajectory than “Goth” culture), there are most certainly parallels. Books like The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Phantom of the Opera, Frankenstein, Dracula, these books excited my keen flair for the dramatic, my interest in the supernatural and satisfied my craving for rich vocabulary. Big words are sexy. And the historical context of the classics allowed for another fantasy world to be taking place; delving into another time entirely. You are what you read as a writer, and the most formative novels, the ones I connected to on the viscerally dramatic and soulful level in a way I found only Gothic fiction could really do, are what defines me today. My books all pay homage to classic novels in one way or another. My goal in life is to be a “gateway drug to 19th century literature”. It’s my hope that sharing my love of the classics, using them as the building blocks of my storytelling as a modern Historical Fantasy author, keeps me tethered to my earliest inspirations, the closest fires to my muse.
The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart, by Leanna Renee Hieber
Published by Sourcebooks Fire, November 1st, 2012
My copy kindly provided by the publisher
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