Review & Interview: Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber

If you are looking for a page turning paranormal, young adult ride then you have to read Darker Still by Hieber. If you like Dorian Gray then you will love this because Hieber pens her own version of and makes it all her own. Right from the start Darker Still engages the reader taking them on a spooky and eerie ride that all readers will enjoy time and time again. Darker Still  takes place in one of my favorite museums, the Metropolitian Museum of Art. This is where our heroine, Natalie works. The story itself revolves around a portrait arrives at the Metropolitan Art Museum and the item is cursed. So what’s Natalie to do? She’s going to free Danbury from the cursed portrait. Natalie is a great heroine and she goes for what she wants. Without giving away too much of the book, Natalie and Danbury are going to come together to break the curse, but also in love. So if you’re looking for that great young adult novel which of course can be read by adults. This is a fun read that will have you falling in love with Hieber’s writing and following her other books as well.












Darker Still

Leanna Renee Hieber

Author Website:

Genre: YA, Paranormal


Book Blurb:

The shadows deepen on the gaslit streets of New York City in the year 1880. Curses and spirits, demons and rituals, blood and faith, love and danger; such is the stuff of Magic Most Foul. Find your voice… or else.  –


Interview with Author Leanna Renee Hieber

Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself!

LRH: I’m from rural Ohio north of Cincinnati. I’m your friendly neighborhood perky Goth who grew up obsessed with ghost stories, Edgar Allan Poe and musical theatre. I started my first novel around age 12 (a sequel to The Phantom of the Opera). I graduated from college with a theatre degree and a focus in the Victorian Era (the mid to late 19th century), spent many years as a professional actress doing classical theatre in various places around the country, dabbled in playwrighting, still loved a good ghost story more than just about anything in the world, moved to New York City where the drive to write books won out over my other interests. (Though I still dabble in all of them).

Tell us about your book? How did it get started?

LRH: Two VERY different inspirations birthed DARKER STILL.

As a kid I watched Sesame Street’s “Don’t Eat the Pictures” over and over again on tape. It’s where the muppets get trapped in the Metropolitan Museum of Art overnight and there’s a ghost of an Egyptian kid. LOVED that film. The next inspiration was The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. From those two utterly different sources, I always wanted to write my own haunted painting story, so here it is! (Oh, and the epistolary style I use, writing in diary entries, letters and articles? I got that from reading and loving Bram Stoker’s Dracula). I also wanted to write a story where the girl saves the guy. So she does. Lord Denbury rocks, but he’d be so dead without Natalie. And he knows it.

How do you create your characters?

They come to me amidst the setting that I’m interested in. I knew I needed a girl to deal bravely with a haunted painting and to figure out the curse. Natalie arrived in my mind like a new acquaintance and now she’s a beloved friend, she’s just the right mix of kind, sweet and spunky. Characters are born in my head out of a mix of look, opinions and emotions. I know I need certain “types” of people to fulfill the arc of the story, (I always have a sense of what the story is about) and then I think about the sort of people I need to do what must be done and just get to know them. The more time I spend with them, the more I find out. Getting to know them through creating dialogue is the best because often I’m surprised by what they say. May sound crazy, but they do take on a life of their own!

What inspires you to write?

The Victorian era and everything about it, it’s my favorite mental playground. It was so elegant and problematic at the same time. Ghost stories and nightmares inspire me. My characters, once I dream them up, I want to keep playing with them. And the classics. The 19th century classics (especially the Gothic ones) inspired me to write in the first place. DARKER STILL and the Magic Most Foul series was born of a love of Oscar Wilde, Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe and Bram Stoker. I also just write to immerse myself in a world that intrigues me with people I’d want to meet and know in real life.

What do you like to read?

LRH: I like to read similar to but just outside of my genre, so I’ll read true ghost/haunting accounts, I have to read a lot of research books, I love historical mysteries and thrillers, and I try to keep up with all my friends’ books! Check out Alethea Kontis and Saundra Mitchell’s upcoming YA novels and also The Apocalypsies Debut crew!

What would your advice to be for authors or aspiring in regards to writing?

Keep at it, steel yourself for tons of disappointment and rejection, tend your spirit, and just keep writing. Hone your craft by reading great books and seeing how to make your writing better. Never stop learning. And never give up. If you are easily discouraged, this is not the career for you. You have to want it so much more than you have room for fear. If you hit a wall, start a new project. Don’t let speedbumps stop you, don’t wait for the muse, put your butt in the chair and write. You can edit later. Your first draft is going to suck. (And you’ll never publish a first draft). You’ll question everything. But seeing your book on the shelf makes all the struggles worth it.

Anything else you’d like to share?

LRH: I am so excited to share this book with you! Also, a production company is turning my debut novel into a musical! More about that here: Follow all my goings on: and and of course in-depth info and links to free reads at – Magic Most Foul is a series so I hope you LOVE Darker Still, the sequel will be out next fall! Cheers!

Denise Alicea
the authorDenise Alicea
This blog was created by Denise in September 2008 to blog about writing, book reviews, and technology. Slowly, but surely this blog expanded to what it has become now, a central for book reviews of all kinds interviews, contests, and of course promotional venue for authors, etc

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