Title: The Dark Days Club
Author: Alison Goodman
Series: Lady Helen, #1
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Release Date: January 26th 2016
Alison Goodman’s The Dark Days Club is a great blend of paranormal and historical fiction. Lady Helen Wrexhall is preparing for her first Season, and while she should be excited, no one is letting her forget that her mother’s sordid reputation is already a mark against her. Helen knows she ought to make it public knowledge that she condemns her mother just like everyone else, but despite this, Helen still remembers her fondly and can’t quite believe that her mother was a traitor like everyone says. There’s also the fact that no one has ever been able to explain Helen’s strange ability to read people so easily, to see beyond pretty smiles and hollow affability, and she wonders if perhaps something in her parents’ past might explain. Though her brother and uncle expect her to behave like a proper lady in order to secure a husband, Helen holds herself to different standards. When a housemaid that no one seems to care about except the other servants, Helen takes it upon herself to discover what happened.
Throughout the novel, Helen is pulled into two different directions. When she discovers that the world holds horrors that she never could have dreamed of, even in her worst nightmares, she must decide if she can accept the strange calling to defend those ignorant of this hidden world. But it is still 1812 and Helen is expected to marry, she has obligations toward her family that cannot be ignored. She has grown up knowing that her greatest accomplishment will be an advantageous marriage, so when she meets Lord Carlston, who believes she can help fight the demonic entities feasting on the people of England, she finds it hard to believe. Helen has more gumption than she realizes, she’s brave and determined. While those in her social class are more likely to ignore those below them and dismiss members of their own class involved in scandalous situations, Helen has a much bigger heart and sees the worth in those others are so willing to dismiss.
While the story itself is not the most unique, the author’s care in telling a story during the Regency Era is what sets it apart. The framework for The Dark Days Club is similar to two books I’ve read this year: Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas’s These Vicious Mask and Cindy Anstey’s Love, Lies and Spies, but of the three, I liked this one the most. It’s easy to see how important it was to the author to capture the atmosphere of the era and while I enjoyed the details included, I can also see why these details would make the pacing feel slow for those looking for a more fast-paced story. Also affecting the pacing was the lack of action in the novel. While there are a handful of fight scenes, I was hoping the protagonist would be much more involved. It’s clear that this first book functions more like an introduction to this world where the protagonist must decide if she will join the fight. I believe this aspect will be rectified in the sequel, which I am really looking forward to.