Title: The Dark Days Club
Author: Alison Goodman
Release Date: January 26, 2016
Publisher: Viking (Penguin imprint)
London, 1812. Eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall is on the eve of her debut presentation at the royal court of George III. But at the same time, she finds herself drawn into the shadows of Regency London. One of the Wrexhall's housemaids has disappeared, and the only person with any answers is the disreputable Lord Carlston, whose reputation is as black as his lingering eyes. Soon Lady Helen and Lord Carlston are caught between two equally dangerous worlds-the glittering social whirl of the Regency upper crust, and the terrifyingly demonic conspiracy that threatens to plunge a newly Enlightened world back into darkness.
The Dark Days Club is darkly mysterious and enthralling, filled with inescapable dangers and impossible choices.
Lady Helen is intelligent, spirited. She has a number of traits that weren't acceptable for young women of the time period. Her days leading up to her debut presentation are spent walking on egg shells around her guardians, her aunt and her bitter, pious uncle. With a mother who's reputation was ruined when rumours of her being a spy for Napoleon appears around the time of her death, she must be careful in order to secure a place in high society. No sense in proving that her mother's rebellious blood runs true in Lady Helen's veins, yes? But Helen doesn't agree. She doesn't believe the stories, she knows that the truth must be out there somewhere.
When Lord Carlston appears before her, telling tales of dark creatures and Lady Helen's own surprising discoveries, her skill of reading others exceptionally well, her ability to see actions play out step by step in her mind briefly before they happen, she learns part of the truth she's been wondering about. A truth about her mother. But it isn't as simple than that, and Lady Helen becomes caught between two worlds, the glamour of high society and her duty as a young woman to find a rich and titled husband and the shadow world Lord Carlston and his associates show her. A dangerous world of deception and demons.
I was impressed and intrigued by the level of research done by the other on the Regency England time period and location. The details when it comes to how Lady Helen and all other characters navigate their way through the spaces available to them because of both their gender and their standing in society. The boxes in Vauxhall Gardens or the balls in stately manor homes. The dark, dingy alleyways behind drinking houses. The palace, being introduced to the Queen. The kitchen where the servants have their dinner separate from the lords and ladies of the house. What the author highlights wonderfully is how Lady Helen is caught of the spider's web of propriety and custom. How, as an unmarried young woman, she has no power whatsoever, and would only get some if she married. Or decided to live without consequence or care of rumour. Bold, intelligent, passionate women suffered in this time period, held ransom by law and marriage and senior male relatives who believed that being obedient meant you were the best at being a woman.
This book is an in-depth mystery rich with historical accuracy and detail. There was a moment or two that hinted at a potential romance, but I imagine it will be developed more as the series goes on. This is the start of Lady Helen's adventures, the point at which she is presented with two doors and told to pick one to walk through. Her interactions with Lord Carlston were intriguing, as the two were very much at odds with each other. She's rather innocent (when it comes to the situation at the start), inquisitive, and resistant, while he's angry and jaded. It's somewhat clear that he wants to help rid England of the Deceivers, but beyond that? His motives are unclear and muddy, much like a fair chunk of his past. I'm desperate to know more, to know what happens next, and so I'm greatly looking forward to the next book.
(I received an advance copy of this title from another book blogger.)