Book Review: Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club
The Dark Days Club (US/UK)
By: Alison Goodman
Published By: HarperCollins (AUS)
Publication Date: December 14th, 2015 (AUS), January 26th, 2016 (US)
Page Count: 448
Source: Advanced Reader Copy courtesy of the publisher
Genre: Young Adult/Historical/Paranormal
This book is being described as Jane Austen meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and that, for me, was what attracted me to the book. I met the author before reading the book and when I heard about the level of research she put into it, I knew I had to read it. The book is set in 1812. America was on the verge of fighting for independence and Napoleon was invading Russia. King Charles III was no longer able to rule and the Prince Regent, known as Prinny, was kicking up his heels and partying all over London.
Lightweight crinolines had replaced the wide panniers on dresses, and a lady's fan was her most important accessory.
Lady Helen is due to be presented to Queen Charlotte, and her biggest worries are perfecting her curtsy and thinking of a reply when the Queen inevitably asks about her mother. Lady Helen's mother is considered by many to be a traitor, and her uncle worries that this will affect Lady Helen's chances of making a good marriage. Propriety is everything in Regency society, and Helen has been brought up within the strict confines of the aristocratic class. When one of her maids disappears, she is drawn into a world that she had no idea existed. The scandalous Lord Carlston, rumoured to have murdered his missing wife, may have had a hand in the maid's disappearance. Lady Helen will risk her reputation and her position to find out what happened. Along the way she will find out that she is capable of so much more than she imagined. Lady Helen starts out concerned about propriety and what is acceptable, but gradually moves beyond that with her determination to do what is right, no matter the cost to herself.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story. The world is so richly described, the research that has gone into this book really is extraordinary. Alison went to the extreme of checking weather reports so that the weather in the book would match the actual historical date. She also tied real events (murders, executions, battles) into the events of the story. Historical figures such as the Prince Regent and Lord Byron make appearances in the story as well. London is almost a character in itself, the setting is so vividly described.
The paranormal elements of the story are interesting with a completely original magic system. I won't say too much about it, read it for yourself and find out. While there is some romance, it is not at the centre of the story. Helen has a choice to make, and either choice has consequences for potential relationships, but she does not spend all of her time admiring well-turned calves and fawning at potential suitors. She's far too busy trying to save the world.
The Dark Days Club is a fun and engrossing read.
London, April 1812. On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap?