Monday, June 12, 2017
The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman
The Regency era is a very difficult place to be a monster hunter, as it is proved in this story. But, that's all part of the charm, isn't it? Here we have the first part in the Lady Helen series that balances history and the supernatural into a thrilling tale of suspense and circumstance.
Lady Helen Wrexhall has a lot on her plate. She's being introduced to society, meeting the Queen, and attending parties and balls in the hopes of impressing potential suitors, as any eighteen year old girl in 1812 would do. But things suddenly get complicated when she meets the mysterious Lord Carlston and he introduces her into the strange realm of Reclaimers and Deceivers and the Dark Days Club. Helen must soon come face to face with evils she never knew existed, accompanied by her loyal maid Darby, and must walk along the fine line between high society and her far more dangerous destiny.
I confess to being a bit worried when I first got into this book and found several red flags in regards to Helen being a Mary-Sue type character. Being not only a Reclaimer but an extra special Reclaimer with even more special powers, raised by a piece of crap uncle who wants to ship her off as soon as possible, all the hot guys seem really into her, etc. Thankfully, though, her personality contradicts the stereotype. She's modest and humble, a bit timid but that can be expected in this situation. She's nice and proper and very likable. She's well fleshed out and is more than just a pretty face who can do anything, which was a great relief. When she hesitates about accepting her role as a Reclaimer, you genuinely understand why. It isn't like in Crown of Midnight, where the protagonist has been in the business of being an assassin for years and then cries about wanting a normal life. Helen is on the cusp of making a life-altering choice from which there's no return. It's scary and it's dangerous and you want to see her come out of it okay.
It's clear that a lot of time and energy went into capturing the style and feel of the Regency era in this story. The outfits, the lifestyles, the etiquette, the traditions are all in accordance to the times and builds a really delicate world for our protagonist to be involved in. Women had a lot of expectations back then and the slightest infraction could mean a world of hurt for Helen. Thankfully, Helen's the type of character who is clever enough to find ways to maneuver through these obstacles. There's also a great amount of tension and atmosphere in this story. Whenever she leaves home to meet with the Dark Days Club, it's suddenly walking on eggshells. You know what a risk she's taking in going all these excursions and you want her to make it through. The idea of Deceivers, creatures that feed off a person's unique sins and grow stronger, is very interesting and the methods of how Reclaimers fight them, and deal with the consequences, is nerve-wracking and exciting all at once. It's all very well done.
The other characters in the story also have a lot of depth and you could get behind each one. Her uncle is a misogynistic jerk who wants to rule over her life with an iron fist therefore making him a wonderfully hate-able. Darby is eager and loyal and remarkably unafraid to take this plunge into darkness alongside her mistress. Lord Carlston is naturally a mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in tall-dark-and-handsome, but with enough charm and wit to keep him interesting. Everyone does a pretty good job playing their roles in the story with maybe the exception of Mr. Benchley. I kinda get why they included him, to show the dangers of what being a reclaimer could mean, but I really felt that Carlston did that just fine and he kinda felt like an extra antagonist that we didn't really need, what with the Deceivers and all.
Besides Benchley, my only other nitpick would be that, at times, the pace can be a bit slow. In focusing so much time and energy on the high society/propriety aspects of the world building, the downtime between the action can stretch on for a little too long. When the action does start, however, it is good and things get rolling again. I just wish it didn't have quite as many peaks and valleys as it did.
Clever, classy, creepy and captivating! This book had personality and wit, charm and suspense and everything it promises. Overall, I'm going to say that this book is definitely worth your money at your local bookstore!
Have you read the book? What did you think? Comment below and share your thoughts. Have a book you want me to read or would like to make a recommendation? Contact me on goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/65448711-michelle-beer
Next Time: Ding, dong, she's still not dead....