Alison Goodman tells a chilling Regency era tale of duty, darkness, and discovery in DARK DAYS CLUB.
The year is 1812. Lady Helen Wrexhall is about to make her formal presentation to the Queen of England and begin the path toward marriage, but something hangs over her joy. Since the age of eight, Helen has been raised by her aunt and uncle following her parents’ death under suspicious circumstances. Many believe her mother, Lady Catherine, to be a traitor to the crown, though the details are scarce. And now that she’s come of age, Helen is discovering the heavy truths about her family and her destiny.
After strange things begin to happen to Helen, she meets Lord Carlston, a haunting, mysterious man rumored to be a murderer. Carlston knows the truth behind it all: Helen is a member of the Dark Days Club, a small but elite group of gifted individuals who control and, if necessary, destroy the thousands and thousands of demons lingering in every rank of society. Even more compelling is that Helen’s transition into the supernatural world heralds greater dangers to come.
Helen is curious, but she faces constant challenges in keeping up with this secret world, particularly because the novel is extremely true to the era. A young, single woman is not allowed out unaccompanied, particularly with a dangerous man who could smear her good reputation. How could she possibly marry the duke pursuing her with such accusations overhead? In a twist that you don’t see in most novels, Helen wants to abide by the rules of society and doesn’t necessarily take to her calling. If she didn’t believe her missing maid was connected to the paranormal hubbub, she may have disregarded it altogether. As she learns the ways of the Dark Days Club and the truth of her mother’s past, Helen is left with something rare and welcomed in a coming of age YA paranormal: a true choice as to which life she’ll lead. Of course, it’s not an easy one!
The Dark Days Club was a fast-moving title that leapt from scene to scene while laying down the mystery and lore. The story presents a fresh take on the demon world with specific rules and characteristics that make Helen’s plight different from demon-hunting tales you’ve read. The story relies heavily on the unique details in ways that make plot points richer and twists bigger. Occasionally, we felt the book was slowed down by loads of details about the era, but it certainly wasn’t enough to put us off completely.
Helen is a genuinely likable character when given the chance to shine. She’s smart, curious, and as feisty as the time period will allow (and perhaps then some!) Her interactions with other participants in the club are key, as they reveal the true Helen and bring the best out of said members, as well– Because Regency London was so formal, her interactions with everyday family and friends sometimes felt a bit stiff and bland. The most intriguing secondary character of all is Lord Carlston, who is both the good guy and the bad guy. His past is dark and his secrets are aplenty, but Carlston doesn’t harp on the tortured soul angle. He was a genuine interest in teaching Helen how to identify and handle demons, but it’s easy to see there’s something more sinister underneath the surface. It’s just enough to make you believe the rumors that Lord Carlston killed his dear wife. Also, shout out to Darby, Helen’s personal maid who goes on the descent into the paranormal world with her and seems primed to become a total badass.
The end of this novel will leave you excited, frustrated, and more than anything, constantly theorizing about who Helen’s greatest enemy is. The journey is a bit longer than usual, but it’s worth it for the tense anticipation leading up to those final moments. If you like old-fashioned no-sense reading about girls who take charge, take The Dark Days Club for a spin!
RATING: 4 out of 5 stars
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?