Home > Mitch's Musings > The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart by Leanna Renee Hieber

The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart by Leanna Renee Hieber

Wew that’s a long title.

The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart (Magic Most Foul #2)
by Leanna Renee Hieber

The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart (Magic Most Foul #2)

By: Leanna Renee Hieber

Release Date: November 1, 2012

Rating: 4 Stars

Summary: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.

Review:

The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart picks up right where Darker Still leaves off, with Natalie and Denbury on a train out of New York in the aftermath of their confrontation with Denbury’s demon. It takes only a few paragraphs to remind me why Darker Still was such an interesting read, from its fairly unique epistolary form, telling the story through journal entries and newspaper clippings, to its take on gothic horror, almost like there’s a poetic quality to the writing, because luckily this sequel retains almost all of what the first book does right. Even though I have one or two issues with Natalie’s character and parts of the plot, I really think Natalie Stewart does a great job of building on the first book and setting up the third.

Actually, the biggest difference between Natalie Stewart and Darker Still is that this sequel doesn’t as strictly follow the epistolary form as Darker Still did. I really appreciated the found journal storytelling style of Darker Still, the same style as Bram Stoker’s Dracula, because it added to the mystery, reading the found words of this missing girl as part of the investigation into her disappearance, and even though Natalie Stewart, with all its events being told in real time, doesn’t have that same feel, it’s a good choice for this book to put me closer to the action. There’s this hospital scene for example, that’s definitely way spookier with Natalie narrating than if I’d read it from her journal, because with the chill in the air, the spirits all around, a demon on the loose, the danger is just palpable. And the letters, they’re not entirely gone, there are a couple of er interesting ones between Denbury and Natalie scattered throughout.

The plot really impressed me this go around, even if I have some slight issues with it. Darker Still was kind of predictable based on the summary, it’s fairly obvious what Natalie has to do to rescue Denbury, but this book presents a mystery that’s both horrifying and takes its time teasing at the specifics. There’s actually a parallel plot structure with two stories going on simultaneously, one Natalie battling Denbury’s demon who doesn’t seem to have quite been vanquished, and the other Natalie and Denbury getting to the bottom of the mysterious evil organization responsible for summoning the demon in the first place. My only disappointment is that I really felt the two plots would be more interconnected than they turned out to be, turns out, it feels like they best one foe, feel safe for a bit, and then the other strikes out of the blue. With Maggie. Who’s even crazier this time around. And Denbury’s friends Sam and Nate ended up being rather underused as a result. But even so, it’s still great gothic horror the entire way through, unsettling even when nothing bad in particular has happened, and downright creepy when evil’s finally revealed – the scene in the hospital, again, is stellar.

I’m not entirely a fan of Natalie’s character, she’s a bit too much for my liking, especially when she frets about the demon and ends up accusing Denbury or becomes suspicious of Ms. Northe for no apparent reason other than spending too much time with her father, but I’m a little of suspicious of Ms. Northe too. Yeah, I like her, she’s the kind of nice, supportive old lady character every heroine wishes she’d have on her side, but I understand Natalie’s thinking, Northe may be a little too good to be true. But that’s what makes her awesome. And between Natalie’s friend Rachel and Denbury’s pals, there really seems like there’s going to be a real fight between the good guys and that mysterious evil organization, the so called Society.

The last thing I’ll say is that Natalie Stewart really one ups Darker Still in the literary allusion department, and it’s really cool for any fan of classic gothic horror. A close or not too close reading reveals tons of references to Poe’s Fall of the House of Usher, Shelley’s Frankenstein, it’s really a shame Stoker’s Dracula I think is published a few years after these books are set. But it’s clear Hieber knows her gothic horror, and not only included the classic tone and atmosphere of the genre in her books, but even got the ideas in too, take a look at the descriptions of Nate’s play.

It’s no secret I’m a fan of gothic horror, and Darker Still is a pretty cool throwback to the classics. The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart takes this series one step further, sets up the overarching conflict for what’s to come.
Go to Mitch’s review on Goodreads.

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