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Just before Lady Helen Wrexhall's presentation before the Queen Charlotte, one of her family's housemaid's turns up missing and Lady Helen finds herself drawn into the darker side of Regency era London in her quest to learn the truth behind the disappearance. Lord Carlston, a man a girl of her station should not be seen anywhere near or else their reputation will suffer, is one of the few people who knows the truth and has the ability to stop the the perpetrators. The truth is almost unbelievable: the perpetrators are demons who have infiltrated all levels of society. And, he reveals another secret, Lady Helen is actually a member of The Dark Days Club, like him, and has all the skills that go with it, she just needs training to learn how to use her abilities to fight the demons.
Alison Goodman's The Dark Days Club has been one of my favorite reads so far of 2016. The level of detail and the world-building are absolutely exceptional. The historical setting feels incredibly real with so much detail to flesh out the rest of the her world that it's clear Goodman has done her research. Even without the fantasy elements, this novel would work pretty well as regular historical fiction novel with a dash of mystery in its own right.
While the world-building is fantastic, our cast of characters are well-written and fleshed out, even the supporting cast. Lady Helen is a character I could really support. I was pleased to see that she struggles against her destiny every step of the way; she doesn't just accept the fact that her new life is so radically different from everything she knows. I'm also glad to find out that Lord Carlston is much more than he appears, as we realize he is a demon fighter of the Dark Days Club rather than a Byronic (possible) murderer of his wife who could wreak havoc on a girl's reputation. And, Darby, Lady Helen's maid, easily steals her scenes.
Of course, I also have to mention the fantasy elements of the story. I particularly enjoyed the way the that Lady Helen is introduced to the world she has never known existed all along. This world isn't separate from ours either, just one that most wouldn't take note of. It is side by side with ours as the demons attempt to gain a greater foothold amongst us. I also liked learning along with Lady Helen about the background of the Club and just what part they've played in the wider world. Lady Helen's presentation into this world also comes with a good deal of self-discovery, and she grows so much as a character from the start to finish as she learns to find her footing.
Overall, The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman has been one of my favorite reads of the new year. It was a pleasure getting to know Lady Helen and her fellows, and I loved spending so much time with them before diving headfirst into the deep end. If you enjoy well-researched historical-fantasy with an admirable cast, as well as Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or even Grimm, you will adore The Dark Days Club. I'm definitely interested in reading more of Alison Goodman's work, and I can't wait for the release of the sequel.
I read this novel from March 17 - 28, 2016 and my review is also on Goodreads.