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May 15, 2017

Mini Reviews: The Dark Days Club and The Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman


Title: The Dark Days Club
Author: Alison Goodman
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Publication Date: January 26, 2016
Genre(s): Paranormal, Fantasy
Source: Library
Pages: 482
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London, April 1812. On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady 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?
This book was initially hard to get into. It chafed me to read about how antiquated the norms in the 1800s were. I was so not here for Helen obeying her uncle and brother, her aunt obeying her husband and the general lack of freedom that women had, not to mention how casually people assumed and said that women couldn’t think or act as well as men. NOPE. These practices were all very normal to Helen, and although she wished things were different, she blamed herself for thinking that way and actively tried to squash such ~rebellious thoughts. While I understood that, I couldn’t really relate or sympathize (which makes me sound like a jerk). The way she addressed and thought of Carlston using his title “Lord” brought a level of formality to their interaction that made it incredibly hard for me to ship them or even care about Carlston. Also Selburn was an unfortunate Nice Guy character and I hated him with every bit of my soul. Finally, I had no clue what purpose Margaret or Hammond served and I wish their backstories were explored a little more thoroughly.

But otherwise! I really liked the book. Goodman’s style of writing super worked for me. The book moves really slowly but I was hooked early and fast, and it’s been really hard for me to find a book like that. All my recent five star reads have been quick, fast paced books. While Helen annoyed me a little throughout the book, it was evident that her character was developing bit by bit. The paranormal side of the book is quite simple, which I was okay with. The book is mostly character (specifically Helen’s character) and relationship driven, and the plot has more to do with Helen coming to terms with her identity and new role than it does with Reclaiming. This book was all about setting the stage for book two--getting Helen into the mindset of a Reclaimer, getting Darby to support and help Helen throughout, introducing Helen to the Carlston’s world, and introducing the two of them to one another. Character change is pretty glacial (sometimes to the point of frustration, tbh) in this book, but it in the end, I felt satisfied because it wasn't rushed.

Title: The Dark Days Pact
Author: Alison Goodman
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Publication Date: January 31st, 2017
Genre(s): Paranormal, Fantasy
Source: Library
Pages: 496
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June 1812. Just weeks after her catastrophic coming-out ball, Lady Helen Wrexhall—now disowned by her uncle—is a full member of the demon-hunting Dark Days Club. Her mentor, Lord Carlston, has arranged for Helen to spend the summer season in Brighton so that he can train her new Reclaimer powers. However, the long-term effects of Carlston’s Reclaimer work have taken hold, and his sanity is beginning to slip. At the same time, Carlston’s Dark Days Club colleague and nemesis will stop at nothing to bring Helen over to his side—and the Duke of Selburn is determined to marry her. The stakes are even higher for Helen as she struggles to become the warrior that everyone expects her to be. 
The Dark Days Club was the book in which Goodman moved all the pieces into place for the roller coaster that was The Dark Days Pact. Book #1 left me thirsty for some actual Reclaimer-Deceiver action and yay, I got it! The one thing that continued to bring my investment in the book down was how flat the secondary characters were. I was supposed to ship Quinn and Darby I think, which lol wut. Selburn clearly exists to complete this weird quadrilateral that has been set up which I’m fine with because watching Helen put him in his place is joy. The whole point of Lady Margaret was to pit her against Helen for Carlston’s affections and show how Helen was soo much more level headed than her. I literally cannot think of anything else that Margaret did besides fawn over Carlston and disapprove of Helen, smh.

Everything in The Dark Days Pact is amplified--the intricacy of the plot, the speed of character development, the thrill in the action scenes. Reading about Helen navigating them while coming to terms with the fact that she has to lead and has to take on roles she never thought she’d have to AND deal with these weird tingly feelings whenever she looks at Carlston was such a delight. Again, in this book, the intricacy of the plot has more to do with people and character dynamics than Deceiver stuff. Goodman didn’t really delve into what Deceivers are, or their history and I didn’t really care because I was too busy enjoying Hammond and Helen and Carlston.

Goodman does slow, natural character development really well. Helen comes from a society where women defer to men for every major life decision, and she broke out of that mindset very slowly and uncertainly which was a very refreshing take on the “yer a wizard harry” trope (if that isn’t an official trope, I’m making it one). She trains and plans and tries her best, and the plot never works out conveniently for her. She fails some times and succeeds some other times. Yay reality!

Speaking of Helen and Carlston, they don’t interact a lot during the book, but when they do, it makes Helen and Carlston and ME go fluttery. I am going to come collecting for way more alone time than they got, come book 3. THERE IS A GENDERBENDING KISS SCENE WHICH LEGIT UNDID ME. The ending was one, long, bloody, action-packed ordeal (that I actually had to read several times because so much was happening) and the whole fiasco was nicely rounded off with the most gut-wrenching of cliffhangers.

Because, you know, JUSTICE.

4 comments:

  1. Sad that it was difficult to get into first, but I guess the antiquated-ness of it kinda adds to the setting? Maybe?? Haha anyway, I’m looking forward to picking up this one at some point, and I’m glad you liked it for the most part :D Great reviews!!

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    1. It definitely does. It's not often that I read historical PNR novels that actually focus on authenticity and include the icky sexist part that we all like to pretend never existed. You should definitely read it!

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  2. I'm so glad you loved these! This is one of my favorite series and I am so, so desperate for the final novel. Fantastic review!

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    1. Me tooo! I'm going to reread the first two books before it does--I'm sure there's stuff I've missed on my first read.
      PS: I *love* your reviews :)

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