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The Dark Days Club (A Lady Helen Novel) Hardcover – January 26, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—As 18-year-old Lady Helen Wexhall prepares for her audience with Queen Charlotte at Buckingham Palace in 1812 London, she is constantly admonished by her aunt and uncle not to mention her mother, Lady Catherine, to the queen. Helen's mother and father drowned at sea, a result of her mother's wild and reckless pursuit of intrigue and excitement. Her aunt and uncle adopted her and her brother, and while her brother is as staid and stolid as they are, Helen shows the same reckless streak, intelligence, and curiosity as her mother. When her lady's maid mentions that one of the other housemaids is missing, Helen undertakes her own investigation. As she enters a season of parties and social affairs, she meets Lord Carlson, whose family has the ancient duty of investigating a cabal of demons who have infiltrated all levels of London society and want to bring an enlightened world back into a darker age. Although warned against Lord Carlson, she finds herself drawn more and more into his work, which seem to parallel her own and plunge her into greater danger. The first of a series, this Regency romance/supernatural mash-up introduces Lady Helen and Regency London as well as the underworld of the deceivers. Fast-paced, rich in description, with fascinating characters and excitement, this tale from Australian author Goodman will leave fantasy fans wanting more. VERDICT With mass crossover appeal, this genre-pushing tale will be enjoyed by those who don't usually read historical romances or supernatural works.—Janet Hilbun, University of North Texas
"This fantastic introduction leaves us hungry for more." —Entertainment Weekly
"It's rare — but thrilling — to find a book that takes both generic conventions and historical accuracy seriously, as Alison Goodman's delightful fantasy novel The Dark Days Club does." —NPR
★ "Delicious. . . . Lady Helen is a well-drawn heroine, and her struggle to free herself from the stilted life of an early 19th century noblewoman and embrace her wilder, darker self is powerfully delineated." —Publishers Weekly, starred review
★ "Fast-paced, rich in description, with fascinating characters and excitement, this tale from Australian author Goodman will leave fantasy fans wanting more." —School Library Journal, starred review
"[The Dark Days Club] takes off in a delightful way, juxtaposing the laced-up expectations of society against the newly stirring blood of a worthy heroine. . . . Try this with fans of genre twisters such as Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies." —Booklist
"[Goodman's] impeccable research shines through on every page . . . and brings to life questions of freedom and choice for women. Readers willing to embrace the deep, deliberately paced journey will find the pace and tension increasing until the end leaves them eager for the next volume." —Kirkus Reviews
PRAISE FOR ALISON GOODMAN:
“I literally held my breath through much of this exciting book as Eon walks a razor's edge among powerful, plotting lords . . . I loved it. Can't wait for the sequel!”—Tamora Pierce on Eon
*"This mesmerizing story begins where most novels end: in a tension-filled climactic event, in which the fate of the protagonist and a nation in the balance. Goodman catapults the reader headfirst into a pivotal moment in the Empire of the Celestial Dragons, a world so richly imagined that it feels real.”—Booklist , starred review for Eon
“One of those rare and welcome fantasies that complicate black-and-white morality.”—Kirkus Reviews on Eona
AWARDS FOR ALISON GOODMAN
Eon and Eona: New York Times Bestsellers
Eon: Winner of the Aurealis Award
A Locus Recommended Reading Selection
A James Tiptree, Jr. Award Finalist
An Amelia Bloomer Master List Selection
An ALA Best Book for Young Adults
A CBCA Notable Book
Eona: An Indie Next Selection
An ALA Best Book for Young Adults
Singing the Dogstar Blues: An ALA Best Book for Young Adults
Winner of the Aurealis Award, best YA novel
Top customer reviews
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So what to say about this one? First up, I really enjoyed the female friendships in this story. As I think I’ve mentioned in the past, I feel like that aspect is often missing from YA fantasy & science fiction. We get a ton of the “girls who aren’t like other girls” and who prove it by either interacting with next to no other ladies in the course of the story, or who are at odds and/or look down on the few they do meet with. Not so in this one! Lady Helen, despite having concerns that are decidedly not like those the rest of the Ton have to deal with, doesn’t isolate herself from other women. From the sadly “ruined” friend she takes care to worry and look out for to her high society companions to her maid, Darby, Helen respects and admires most of the women around here, even if she is occasionally exasperated by them or, in the case of her aunt, feels stifled by them. Even in the latter cases, we never get the impression that Helen feels the women to be “lesser” to the men around her simply for being women, and that is SO, SO refreshing to read in YA, especially in a period novel.
The magical rules of the world were definitely something I hadn’t seen before either. The secret society operating loosely under the British government is something I’ve seen before, but never quite with the angle this one takes on and certainly not quite as immersed in the gorgeous Regency details like this one is. The closest I think I’ve come to this feel in a book is SORCERY AND CECELIA (which by the way I DEFINITELY recommend), but that has a much more humorous outlook than DARK DAYS CLUB.
I will say bits of the romance and slight love triangle were hard for me, though this is one of those books where I honestly don’t know how to explain quite why? Really Lady Helen was the star for me, and I would have been perfectly happy for her to tell both of her would-be (or trying to assure he wouldn’t be in the case of one) suitors to leave her be while she saved the world LOL. I’ve noticed I’m a little harder on romantic subplots in my larger SFF stories lately. Not sure what the shift is, but oh well. LOL
In any case, this book really was fantastic, and as is always a good sign, I’ve already preordered the next book!
It's not often I give an author I've rated 3 stars in the past another chance, but boy am I glad I did. So maybe I was a bit harsh with her Eon series (Asian-aspired gender-bending YA) or maybe its that Paranormal historicals is far more suited to her style, or it might be I was bowled over by the amount of authentic-seeming historical details here.
Or maybe its just I am as fascinated by Lord Carlston as this book's genteel protagonist, Helen.
This plot is so chock full of mysteries (was Helen's mother a traitor? why does she see mysterious blue light around people sometimes? Why would the disgraced Carlston pay attention to her? What happened to her missing maid, Berta?) and exquisite details of the Regency era (naming the dances at a ball, believable descriptions of gowns and cravats, the name of historical shops) that you don't notice that most of the book is really just Helen going to different parties (until the last third when she breaks out of the mold and goes to clandestine meetings and a public hanging).
Helen herself has agency, in an era when her entire life is controlled by men and she is constantly being told what to do, she makes choices. Threatened on all sides by complete ruin if she doesn't accept a suitor's marriage proposal-- she ekes out her own space by requiring him to ask her again after a potentially momentous ball when her own future might be drastically changed. she doesn't hesitate to sneak out of the house when it is a matter of keeping her word, yet tries her best to please her Aunt with obedience.
And the mysterious, passionate, athletic, dark and angsy Lord Carlston? Delicious. There's only one scene which required a bit of hand fluttering at my throat, sadly. I wished for more of their sparring (verbal and non verbal).
This is described as "Buffy meets Jane Austen" but really its more like Jane Austen meets secret alchemical society fighting demons. (maybe another reviewer's comparison to the Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare is more apt). Helen's no bubbly cheerleader and the wry wit of Buffy isn't here--everything is dreary and serious.
While a minor bad guy is taken down, and Helen's choice is made for her, this book is obviously setting up plot elements that lead to a darker, sinister Big Bad in upcoming books. Off I go to find out if the promise of cool plot and sparky romance is born out in the second book, ordering now.
Most recent customer reviews
Setting and World: I am a sucker for regency era novels.Read more