February 22, 2016

Monday Review: THE DARK DAYS CLUB by Alison Goodman

Summary: Calling all Regency period enthusiasts! Historical fantasy fans! Fans of books like A Dark and Terrible Beauty, the Stoker and Holmes books, anything by Robin LaFevers—I know those aren't Regency period, but you will definitely want to check out the latest novel by Alison Goodman, the author of Eon (reviewed here) and Eona (reviewed here). It's called The Dark Days Club (the title itself is pretty awesome, right?) and it pairs a lushly depicted 1812 London with a heroine coming into her own: as a Reclaimer, a person with the ability to see and fight dark beings hidden amongst the people, feeding off their energy. These Deceivers, as they are called, number in the thousands, but there are only a handful of Reclaimers in all of England.

And it turns out Lady Helen Wrexhall is one of them. A very powerful one, as it turns out.

Peaks: Part of the joy of this book is seeing the society and culture, so vividly portrayed, unfold before the reader's eyes. Admittedly, this is not necessarily to every reader's taste, but anyone with a passing acquaintance with historical fantasy will appreciate the level of detail the author included, while still writing a quite fast-paced plot that kept me turning the pages. I don't want to give too much away about this one because the intrigue and developing suspense are so good, but the revelation of the paranormal aspect—Helen's gradually appearing powers, the darkly enigmatic Lord Carlston, the ever-increasing danger to herself and her household—was deftly combined with the more down-to-earth elements of plot and setting, like Helen's presentation to the Queen and the expectation of impending marriage to a man of some quality.

Certainly Helen joining a secret society to fight evil does not fall into her Aunt and Uncle's plan for her, as her constantly hovering guardians; they are determined that she not follow in her mother's disgraceful footsteps, and rather be married quickly and settle down like a respectable young lady. Because of the nature of society at the time, there are some very intriguing, thought-provoking themes here having to do with women and empowerment, as Helen quite literally comes into her own powers and yet still must navigate the world she lives in, where young women are essentially property until they come of age, and then they tend to marry and become somebody else's property. The decisions she must make about who she is—those give this story quite a lot of depth.

Valleys: For those who want instant action, this might take a while to get moving. The paranormal element doesn't really kick in right away, and Helen's Regency world could seem tiresome if the historical aspect isn't your thing. But that's really a matter of taste.

Conclusion: I picked this one up kind of at random, in the sense that I didn't know the author had a new book out—and I'm so glad I did. Where I felt a little distance from the narrator in Eon and Eona, I did not feel that way with this book. I had trouble putting it down, which honestly made for a very enjoyable weekend. Except for the "to be continued" part—because, yes, dears, this is a Book 1. Yay, but also AARGGGHHH because waiting will be difficult.

I received my copy of this book courtesy of my library's ebook collection. You can find THE DARK DAYS CLUB by Alison Goodman at an online e-tailer, or at a real life, independent bookstore near you!


Gail Gauthier said...

When I was a teenager and college student, I was very into reading Regency romances. This seems to take the traditional Regency set up and mash it with 21st century paranormal books. Interesting idea.

Sarah Stevenson said...

Gail, I suspect that's exactly what's happening here. I'd recommend it for those who like Regency romances. I never did get into that genre myself, for whatever reason...But I do like a good period piece, done well.