Rating: 4 stars
Genre: Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Regency
Pride and Prejudice meets The Infernal Devices.
Alright, it's not exactly like Pride and Prejudice. There is no Mr. Darcy, only an infuriating earl that may of may not have killed his wife. And there is no Elizabeth, only a girl whose curiosity leads her to an underground demon-hunting cult, but is too reluctant to follow her call. The resemblances lie in the vivid and detailed depiction of the English society, with its etiquette, its balls and fancy gowns and dreams of marriage, all of them wrapped up in a ribbon of propriery, that demands from women obedience and good manners, with as little brain and spirit as possible.
“No, you are not an angel, Lady Helen. You are a Reclaimer.”
As you may have realized, the story follows Lady Helen, a young woman who must try her best to secure a wealthy husband who will overlook the scandals and secrets that surround her dead mother. And her debut would be truly successful, if only she could quell her restlessness, her inability to sit idly and obey orders, when her soul longs for something else, something she can not comprehend. Until she meets the mysterious and infamous Lord Carlston, a man dangerous yet alluring, who will be her guide to a hidden world, full of foul creatures that threaten mankind. Helen doesn't know whether she should trust the Dark Days Club. Her rational part keeps repeating that she is a lady, and has no business with secret clubs, that her Reclaimer powers are a burden and not a call that must be answered. Terrified and torn, she must decide who she is, who she can be and who she must be, when the stakes get even higher and prophecies, demons and rogue hunters threaten her life and her reputation, when Lord Carlston invades her senses and gets under her skin. When she faces the danger of losing herself.
“Sometimes there is no good choice.”
There is something familiar yet oddly mystifying about The Dark Days Club. Alison Goodman's attention to every detail and the thorough investigation she has conducted are truly astonishing, she has left nothing in chance. Every gesture she describes, every piece of clothing and dialogue and dance, they transfuse an authenticity to her narration. While I must admit that I found the first part rather slow-paced, and at times wished she wouldn't elaborare this much in things that didn't seem important nor interesting, I admired her dedication.
Her underground London, with the Deceivers and the Reclaimers was also resourceful, she didn't follow the demons-hunt-humans trope to the letter, she marked her own path, with a dash of paranormal, a plethora of social events and a pinch of slow-burning romance. Lady Helen is not your typical heroine. Even though she felt a rash of excitement when she discovered her true nature, she wasn't sure that she wanted this life, a life of danger and responsibility. I was not particularly fond of her decision towards the end, mostly because she resolved so for the wrong reasons. But in general, she was a fresh and witty character, with a spark of mischief and a brave heart.
“You have far more courage than you think you do.”
Lord Carlston is an enigma. The truth about him is a riddle to be solved, his motives hidden, but I strongly believe in him, that he is a genuinely good person, albeit somehow tainted by the darkness he keeps facing. He is irresistible. The romantic aspect of his relationship with Lady Helen started forming towards the end, and the tension between them was utterly delicious. Bound by the rules of propriety, and his lordship's rotten reputation, Lady Helen tried to fight her attraction. To deny her growing feelings. But if there is a word to describe them, that word is burning.
I'm really looking forward to The Dark Days Pact!