|The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman|
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"London, April 1812. On the eve of eighteen-year-old 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?"
Because it's the first thing I noticed about this book, I want to briefly mention how beautiful it is. From the dark, lacy dust jacket, to the damask fancy end paper, to the design at the top of each page, a lot of effort clearly went into designing this book - it's one of the most aesthetically pleasing books I've read.
On to the story! I found that The Dark Days Club was like a mix of Pride and Prejudice, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Downton Abbey. The juxtaposition between rigid high society and dark supernatural forces made for an interesting read.
The pacing was a little slow at the beginning - it took about 150 pages to get to the point that in this world, there are people called Reclaimers, who fight the supernatural beings known (only to their small group) as Deceivers (which are essentially a very interesting twist on a fixture in the supernatural genre). I'm not usually one for long books simply because I kind of have a short attention span, but despite the slow pacing at the beginning, there was never a point where I wanted to put it down. The author describes the 18th century so beautifully, and I was able to conjure the settings, faces, outfits, etc., easily.
I learned a lot of 19th century terms, as well as what certain items of clothing and objects common in that era were called. Google was my friend with this book, and I really think it's worth looking up the italicized words if you're not a 19th century history buff, because they paint a beautiful picture of the era that our heroine lives in.
The characters are memorable, particularly our protagonist, Lady Helen, and the dark and brooding Lord Carlston, who gives off some definite Mr. Darcy vibes. Lady Helen is a mixture of a "proper" Victorian girl and also one who longs for more freedom and is curious to learn and read (something frowned upon in women in 1812 London). Because of her upbringing in higher society, she's very hesitant to fight on behalf of the Dark Days Club because women were not seen as fighters - it was unbecoming. For me, Lady Helen was an easy character to like because she had such an interest in pushing beyond what she knew and what was comfortable for her, even though she had strong reservations at first.
I'm personally looking forward to reading the next book in the series because I can't wait to see what's in store for the characters. If you like historical fiction, supernatural elements, vivid descriptions, and big books, I definitely recommend you give The Dark Days Club a read.
*This book was sent to me by Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review.