Darker Still (Magic Most Foul #1) by Leanna Renee Hieber
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. Unless I can free him soon, things will only get Darker Still
The main character in the book is a selective mute. Because of some psychological issues she cannot speak and does most of her talking through facial expressions and sign language. It is a historical romance set in the Victorian Age. Because of Natalie's "mental illness" her father fears that she will never marry.
When Natalie hears about a portrait of a young man that is rumored to be haunted. She pushes her father to purchase it for the museum he curates for. But the price being too high, they eventually get Ms. Northe to purchase the portrait then loan it to the museum. When she is around the portrait Natalie not only notices subtle differences in the painting each time she looks at it. But she has also seen a boy that looks exactly like the one in the painting in real life, which is impossible because the story that is told is that he committed suicide.
The mystery and magic begin to unfold from here. Natalie is a very determined and caring person. As she beings to learn more about the painting, and Lord Denbury himself, she is determined to find answers. Her complete and utter belief that there is something more to the story, and that Lord Denbury couldn't possibly be deceased. It will draw her into the portrait literally.
One day she is left a letter that instructs her to touch the hand of the boy in the portrait, and she falls into it. A whole new world opens up to her and all the possibilities of what the real world held are easier for her to face and overcome when she has the friendship of Lord Denbury.
I don't often read Victorian historical romances. Especially in young adult. But I was drawn to this one because it contained magic. The fact that the main character was mute was also a nice twist to the story and it led to the author writing the story through different venues such as diary entries and letters. Giving different perspectives of the events that take place.
Both Lord Danbury and Natalie work together to solve the mystery. This story has some really fun variety of characters, I found it a very enjoyable read.