Happy 2016, everyone! I hope you’re as thrilled as I am that many eagerly awaited winter releases are coming out soon: including Alison Goodman’s The Dark Days Club (Lady Helen #1), on the shelves January 26th.
If you’ve read Eon (2008) and Eona (2011), then you know how hard it’s been to wait FIVE YEARS for her next book! (If you haven’t read the duology, here’s my brief recommendation.) The Dark Days Club, the first book in her new historical fantasy series, set in Regency London and starring aristocratic Lady Helen as a reluctant demon-hunter, is worth the long wait. Especially for fans of Cassandra Clare, Gail Carriger, Libba Bray, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
When we are first introduced to 18-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall, she is unaware of her destiny: she is one of two hundred humans with supernatural powers, called Reclaimers, who fight demonic humanoid creatures, called Deceivers.
Helen’s greatest fears? That she will fail to make a favorable impression at her first audience with Queen Charlotte and ruin her chances of finding a suitable noble husband (ideally, the Duke of Selburn). That the queen will be concerned Helen is like her deceased mother, Lady Catherine, accused of impropriety and treason. Will she notice that Helen has her mother’s “wild streak”–restless energy, curiosity, intelligence, and a passion for impropriety?
Helen hopes the queen will be too immersed in her own problems–her husband, “mad” King George III, and their profligate son, “Prinny”–to associate mother with daughter. But, just in case, her uncle demands that Helen tell the queen that her mother’s drowning at sea “was the best outcome for all concerned,” blaming Lady Catherine’s “reckless pursuit of intrigue and excitement” for her death. Helen not only refuses to denounce her mother, she demonstrates her love by hiding a miniature of Lady Catherine in her fan when she meets Queen Charlotte.
The mystery surrounding Lady Catherine gains momentum at Helen’s royal presentation when the disreputable Lord Carlston (whom she later discovers is a demon-hunter) is able to steal the hidden miniature and the queen tells her, “Do not believe everything they say about your mother.” What does the queen mean? What secrets do she and Lord Carlston know about Lady Catherine?
Helen’s pursuit of the truth about her mother leads her to discover she has supernatural abilities that make her destined for The Dark Days Club, a secret group of Reclaimers. But does she want to battle demons? Or would she rather be a proper nobleman’s wife? Does she have a choice? Helen’s struggle to choose her own fate introduces a love triangle (a huge turnoff for many readers, including myself). Yet I don’t mind that Helen is torn between two men–Lord Carlston and the Duke of Selburn–because her romantic struggle emphasizes the importance of freedom and choice for women.
In case you missed it: Last fall, I posted TBR lists of my most-anticipated Winter 2016 releases by debut and already published authors. I recommended time-traveling adventures (Alexandra Bracken’s Passenger, Heidi Heilig’s The Girl from Everywhere, Janet B. Taylor’s Into the Dim, and Nicole Castroman’s Blackhearts), Kathy MacMillan’s Sword and Verse, and Sarah Ahier’s Assassin’s Heart.
Alyssa recommends new and upcoming releases in (mostly) young adult fiction at Coven Book Club and its sister site Spellbinding Books. She thanks Edelweiss and the publisher for providing her with a digital review copy of The Dark Days Club for review purposes. Please note that any quotes are based on an uncorrected text and may have changed upon publication.