Monday, December 10, 2012

Review: The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart

THE TWISTED TRAGEDY OF MISS NATALIE STEWART
Magic Most Foul #2
Leanna Renee Heiber
Paranormal Young Adult
332 pages
Sourcebooks Fire
Available now
Received from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
I'm coming for you.

The whispers haunt her dreams and fill her waking hours with dread. Something odd is happening. Something...unnatural.

Possession of the living. Resurrection of the dead. And Natalie Stewart is caught right in the middle. Jonathon, the one person she thought she could trust, has become a double agent for the dark side. But he plays the part so well, Natalie has to wonder just how much he's really acting.

She can't even see what it is she's fighting. But the cost of losing her heart, her sanity...her soul.


MY THOUGHTS
The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart picks up immediately where Darker Still left off, giving us the barest of hints as to what happened previously and encouraging us to really dig deep into the recesses of our minds to recall all the finer and darker details of Natalie and Jonathon’s meeting. Ms. Hieber gives us ample time to remember however, as the second leg of Natalie’s journey into the world of the supernatural moves forward slowly and carefully, setting each piece of the story purposefully on the playing board before the game actually begins in the last third of the novel.

Part of this second installment’s quieter feel stems from the separation of Natalie and Jonathon shortly after tour reintroduction to them, our desire to see their relationship strengthen and deepen now that canvas and curse no longer stand between them strong enough that we can’t help but be a touch disappointed when we’re denied time to see them truly together. There was a declaration of love in Darker Still despite the brevity of their acquaintance – the dire situation they both faced allowing for a level of believability with regard to rapid escalation of their feelings – and we crack the spine of book two with the hope that we’ll finally get to see the emotional connection that supports the vocalization of those three little words. Unfortunately, their relationship doesn’t quite reach the bar we set for them prior to reading, at least in this installment, but the potential for them as a couple is undeniably present.

While the romance is a touch lackluster in this second book, it should be noted that the focus of the story is clearly not intended to be on Natalie and Jonathon’s love, though it does play a major role, but instead on the mystery surrounding those who cursed Jonathon in the first place and their reasons for doing so. Jonathon’s imprisonment in the painting was clearly but a cog in a darkly insidious paranormal machine, and Ms. Hieber does a beautiful job of taking us by the shoulders in this book and turning us in a slow circle so we can clearly see how much larger and more terrifying the Society’s plans actually are. Our eyes are forced open wide, the realization of how far the claws of supernatural malevolence reach and how deeply they’ve sunk into a variety of people ensuring we’re on the edge of our seats during the action-packed conclusion.

Overall, The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart takes a little while to really get rolling, but once it does, the outcome of what’s been started is something we simply cannot breathe another minute without knowing. The darkest things are clearly still to come, and I will certainly be continuing on with Natalie and Jonathon to see how their light fares against a seemingly unstoppable blackness.

Rating: 3.5/5

41 comments:

  1. I do think I should take a closer look at book 1..

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    1. I enjoyed book 1 - it was written in journal format which I really liked. This one just took a touch longer to get to the action:)

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    2. I think I would adore the 1rst one with the journal format. I don't know that I would do ok with this one though.

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  2. I admit I only skimmed this review because I haven't read the first one, which is on my TBR. I'm glad that overall you feel it's worth it though.

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    1. I really like her writing, and her adult series is a favorite of mine. This one I liked getting more information on the people behind Jonathon's curse, but I still don't feel like I know him all that well and I want to.

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  3. I kind of like that it doesn't focus on the romance but on the mystery (though I do love a good romance). The unveiling of the Society's plans sounds creepy!

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    1. I wouldn't have minded about the lack of romance if we had gotten to know Jonathon better in the first book, but we really didn't, so I was hoping that was going to happen in this book given they've already declared love for one another. That's the only reason I was a little disappointed in it.:)

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  4. I haven't read book 1 yet but reading your review makes me want to. It seems that it is a good book. I'm sad that you were a little upset with this book due to the romance not developing, but I understand your point. Sometimes, it's a good think that the plot line develops, but I know how much you love your romance, so I would be disappointed too.
    Beautiful review as always, Jenny! :)

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    1. Hahaha yes, yes I do love my romance! I just wanted to see them face some challenges as a couple in this book (which they did toward the end, but leading up to it they were separated) because they weren't really together in the first book either. Just a few brief moments here and there, so I wanted to know them as a unit better as well as them both individually:)

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  5. I've read book one and liked it. I hadn't realized that the next book is out already. Cool! I so need to get my hands on it.

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    1. I think it's still on NetGalley Savy!

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  6. Hmm..well I liked the first book in this series, I was disappointed on the lack of mystery and romance. The blurb of the second one isn't really catching my attention either. I guess I'll wait to see what the third (and final?) book is like before continuing.

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    1. I enjoyed this one because I love the way she writes, I just felt like I spent a lot of time waiting for things to happen. The end made up for it a bit though:)

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  7. I've been wondering if I should pick up this series or not. I would be kind of upset in all honesty since you say there's less of a focus on the romance in this one than the first one. :P I love me some gooey romantic stories. ;) Glad that while it's slow in the beginning, it does pick up! Nice review as always, Jenny. :D

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    1. I was bummed when Jonathon went back to England for a lot of the middle of the book, I wanted to see them together a bit more. I have high hopes for the next book though:)

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  8. Well it certainly has cover appeal, I love the hair and corset going on.... Ive actually never heard of this one ....I might need to give the first book a try..:)

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    1. Doesn't it? The actual printed version is printed on a metallic paper, so it has a shimmery effect:)

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  9. I agree with Nick on this one! I have only read TID series by Cassie Clare as steampunk-themed books and I think I was overly critical about them in my reviews (looking back, I think I was went NYTimes on my book reviews at the beginning, but I guess it could happen even with the best of us, LOL). I really liked that Victorian kick-butt setting and I need to read "Something Strange and Deadly" as well as "Dearly Departed" and I looked the first part of this one up on GR and it seems like it'd suit well with this theme, so I really must read the first book when I feel like changing it up sometime. I

    PS. love that you give us the exciting, and also the not-so-exciting, parts, but don't spoil it for us who haven't read it! Really enjoyed your review:) Oh, and I'm so digging that cover as opposed to Renegade, for instance.

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    1. I try not to spoil! Sometimes my reviews are super vague as a result, but I try to give readers a good feel for what happens without actually telling them anything concrete. Sometimes I'm more successful at that than others:)

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  10. I read book one and I liked it but wasn't blown away, I was a bit disappointed in it so I really wavered on whether to read this one or not and I passed. I am really sorry to hear that the relationship doesn't hit its stride. I was expecting a lot of sparks. I also struggled with the slow pace and it sounds like this one has a bit of the same problem. Thanks for the run down. I

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    1. Not too many sparks in this one. I'm hoping we'll get some in the next book!

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  11. I just got a copy of book one, so I am excited to check it out. It's a bummer that the romance isn't as good in book two! Great review, Jenny!

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    1. It's not that the romance is bad, it's just we don't get the time with them I was hoping for:) They're apart quite a bit in book one given he's trapped in a painting, so I was hoping we'd get more of them as a couple now that is no longer an issue:)

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  12. I had to go back and reread your review two times before I was finally able to stop thinking about that cover. Considering how much I love your reviews, that's really saying something.
    Once again, you made me want to read a book/series I necer even considered before. I don't mind that the focus isn't on the romance, especially when it's for a good reason. And the mystery sounds completely breathtaking. I think I'll just go ahead and sample the first book.
    Thanks, Jenny!

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    1. It's easy to get distracted by this cover! Both covers for this series have been beautiful:) She has a fabulous adult series as well, highly recommend it!

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  13. I still haven't read Darker Still - but I am pushing it up on my TBR pile now because I want to get to this one!! LOL!! It sounds so compelling! (And the cover alone is breathtaking!)

    -Jac @ For Love and Books

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    1. Yay! I hope you like Darker Still!

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  14. This series is completely new to me, and I do not mind if the romance is a side dish to the over all plot. I am intrigued and have added book one to my list. Wonderful review Jen I love your description of pieces on a game board.

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    1. Thanks Kimba! Glad the review could add a book to your list:)

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  15. Sometimes her books do take a bit to get going but are always twisty and darkly entertaining. I so need this book and the first. I may wait until the next installment arrives, but still want to read both.

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    1. Agreed! She definitely writes dark and entertaining stories:)

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  16. I still need to read Darker Still! I met Leann Renee Heiber a few months ago at the Baltimore Book Festival and she is the funniest person. She did a reading aloud, and I (of course) bought her book. That book, and this one, are on my TBR.

    That being said, it sounds like this one falls prey to the sophomore book slump. Very much a filler book between books 1 and 3. I get that they're necessary, but rarely is a book 2 my favorite in a series.

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    1. She does the best readings! She turns them into a whole production, I love watching/listening to her:)

      I enjoyed this book, and it's of course well written, I just wanted a bit more:) I'm greedy.

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    2. I know, right? I was so blown away by how into the reading she got. Her and Alethea Kontis fed off each other and it was EPIC.

      There's nothing wrong with book greed. Nothing at all. Hmmm ... another t-shirt slogan?

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  17. As much as I enjoy a little romance in my books, it is nice sometimes to have it fade into the background. This sounds like a solid follow up to Darker Still! I haven't yet read that book but I probably should. By the way, how stunning is that cover? I can't stop looking at it! If I ever wrote a book, that is exactly the sort of cover I would love to have. :)

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  18. I don't mind when a romance is in the background either (sometimes), but with this one, it's like we haven't yet had it in the foreground, so we don't know them as a couple yet. I was hoping we'd get to know them a bit more in this book and then if it became a secondary or tertiary element moving forward that would be fine:) I'm a sucker for romance though, so I always tend to want more romance!

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  19. I've never heard of this series before, but it sounds so intriguing. It's a shame the beginning is so slow, as I hate it when that happens, but I'm glad it all pays off. Wonderful review, Jenny! :D

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  20. I found the first one to be creative and different but in the end it lacked something and I decided not to continue the series. I do love this cover though!

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  21. I haven't read Darker Still, but I've always loved the Dorian Gray story and that reminded me of it. Sounds like this is more about why he was in the picture in the first place. I think I'd like it. I'll give it a try. If I read them back to back sounds like that would be better.

    Heather

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  22. I only skimmed your review since I haven't read the first book. I'm glad this focused less on the romance...most sequels tend to focus mainly on the romance, but I'm glad this focused more on the mystery:) Fab review Jenny<3

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  23. Wow! This cover is gorgeous. I didn't read this review because I haven't read the first one yet, but it seems this wasn't as good as you hoped with that 3.5 star rating. Maybe it's suffering from that middle book syndrome? :/

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