London, April 1812. Lady Helen Wrexhall is set to make her debut at the court of Queen Charlotte and officially step into polite Regency society and the marriage mart. Little does Helen know that step will take her from the opulent drawing rooms of Mayfair and the bright lights of Vauxhall Gardens into a shadowy world of missing housemaids and demonic conspiracies.
Standing between those two worlds is Lord Carlston, a man of ruined reputation and brusque manners. He believes Helen has a destiny beyond the ballroom; a sacred and secret duty. Helen is not so sure, especially when she discovers that nothing around her is quite as it seems, including the enigmatic Lord Carlston.
Against a backdrop of whispered secrets in St James’s Palace, soirees with Lord Byron and morning calls from Beau Brummell, Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club is a delightfully dangerous adventure of self-discovery and dark choices that must be made … whatever the consequences.
Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club (as it is known in Australia) or The Dark Days Club (as it is known in the UK, USA and Canada) is the most recent book of author Alison Goodman. It is the first book in a new trilogy and follows Lady Helen Wrexhall as she learns that her world is not all that it seems. The next book is due to be published at the end of this year.
Overall I really enjoyed this book, and it has some really strong and well-rounded characters. Lady Helen is a particular example of this. She is a person who is comfortable in her own skin, and is also very happy to do her own thing even if it goes against what is expected of her. However, she is shown to have a conscience and worries and even feels guilt over what her actions could do to other characters within the story, in particular her Aunt Lenore. She is also different from a lot of other young adult protagonists because she questions whether or not she actually wants to be a part of the world she is introduced too, which I found to be a refreshing change from normal.
Another good character is Lady Helen’s uncle Lord Pennworth. Though I do not like him due to some of his actions throughout the novel and because he comes across as an angry man who is obsessed with propriety almost to the exclusion of everything else. However, he is a believable character as he fully prescribes and believes in the gender roles from the time period. I did not agree with his actions at the conclusion of the novel, which I will not detail, and which I thought turned him from an unpleasant character to a cruel one. Though the actions do tie in with his actions during the rest of the novel and could be explained due to the time period, I struggled to accept
Tying in with my not liking certain actions of some characters was those of Lady Margaret also at the end of the novel. They do not make a lot of sense to me and seem to go against sentiments towards Lady Helen that had begun to appear in the middle section. I’m hoping they will lead onto something.
As a precursor I just want to let you all know I have this thing with love triangles. In my mind the love triangles as seen in Twilight, the Hunger Games and even in some parts of The Mortal Instruments series, are not true love triangles but are more a V because the two male love interests always have some animosity towards each other. This happens in this novel between Lord Carlston, who introduces Lady Helen to the new world, and the Duke of Selburn, the friend of Lady Helen’s older brother. Though this is definitely not one of the worst love triangles I’ve read, I wouldn’t say that its one of my favourites either.
Following on from my introduction of Lord Carlston, I would have liked to learn more about his history than what is given. He is quite a secretive character who appears to have good intentions, there are certain events referenced that cause him to be seen as an interloper on proper society. The events are revealed, but the reasoning behind them is not. This doesn’t really detract from the story, and the reasoning will be used by Goodman to further the story, but I personally would have liked some more clarity.
The world, which Lord Carlston introduces to Lady Helen, is full of demons, and I must say I love the way Goodman has depicted them. Though I often like the way demons are usually and sometimes stereotypically depicted, Goodman’s depiction is very refreshing and I think may reflect the way demons are meant to move through society. I won’t give it away, but I hope other readers enjoy this aspect as much as I did.
3.5 stars out of 5.
Till next time,