Sunday, March 6, 2016

Review: The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

The Dark Days Club (Lady Helen #1)
By Alison Goodman
YA, Historical Fiction, Paranormal
Release Date: January 26th, 2016
Viking Books
★★★ .5
New York Times bestseller Alison Goodman’s eagerly awaited new project: a Regency adventure starring a stylish and intrepid demon-hunter! 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?

First off, some of you may know how big of a fan I am of the sub-genre historical fiction within YA. I love it and will pretty much read any story marketed this way. I think Dark Days Club does the genre justice as it so obviously well researched, the author capturing so many details specific to the Regency period. The details are also weaved throughout the story seamlessly, in a way that makes you truly feel the atmosphere of the time period. Never did it come across as like a textbook flooding you with useless and detached information though nor did it come in the form of an info dump. It was natural and immersive without being too much.

Sometimes in historical fiction as well (especially in Regency novels or stories which feature main characters of higher status) I've personally found that sometimes they only focus on the wealthy upper classes or don't really even mention other socioeconomic statuses and what their lives were like. That wasn't the case at all in The Dark Days Club, you really got to see characters from all sorts of different backgrounds and how because of such their lives differed from one another's. I also enjoyed how Goodman included real historical events and truly discussed the conflicting political views of the time period. She also captured the societal views (such as the misogynistic "proper" role of women in the time) with honesty. All of the aforementioned made The Dark Days Club stand tall as a even more strong piece of historical fiction to me.

This novel also has some paranormal elements, which I felt were well done but at the same time missing a little something. I did enjoy them overall, as the paranormal aspects didn't overwhelm the story in that way that it would have totally changed it's course entirely. I liked that Helen, the main character, still continued on with her regular life amidst the increasingly shocking and world changing discoveries. So often you have YA novels where the main character learns about the paranormal AND BOOM RIGHT AWAY EVERYTHING CHANGES AT ONCE. I felt that Helen's slow immersion and into the supernatural world felt very natural and was done in a way that really fit the story rather than make it a whole new one. However my issue with the paranormal aspects lies in the fact I never really felt the urgency of it all, for example the few fight scenes fell quite flat. I honestly felt more tension with Helen's douchenozzle of a uncle if I'm being honest. Also I found the world-building itself surrounding the demons and the actual reclaiming lacking. While it was there (and I enjoyed knowing what was there) I couldn't help but still have questions. I do have high hopes that Goodman will answer these questions though in future installments.

Now for the characters themselves, I absolutely adored our gem of a main character. Helen was so likable and I instantly found myself loving her and her insights to the world she lived in. I love how she was strong, but not just in the physically strong sense. I loved her desire for knowledge, her unwavering love and loyalty to her parents and friends. I appreciated that she truly understood that time period that she was living in and recognized her own privileged upbringing. Really, I have nothing but love for Helen and her narrative was nothing but pleasant to read. I also appreciated the side character of Darby, Helen's maid. There was a great friendship between the two that only grew over the course of the novel and the interactions between them were one of my favorite parts of The Dark Days Club. 

There are also two male characters who show interest in Helen. I wouldn't say there's a love triangle quite yet but I do definitely see the possibility of it forming in future novels. Both of them aren't really developed that much yet (there isn't really any romance in this novel which I honestly see as a positive) so I feel fairly apathetic towards both and any possible relationship they may have with Helen. I do however like one over the other, and honestly I think it's because I'm just so sick of the brooding and mysterious love interest trope in YA.

Overall I quite enjoyed The Dark Days Club, especially the historical elements and the main character. I will definitely be checking out future installments of this series and there is no doubt in my mind that Goodman is a stellar author whose previous work I will be giving a shot ASAP.


  1. I have a copy of this one that I still haven't picked up yet. I'm a huge fan of historical too, so I'm not sure why I haven't started it. Must be the giant size of the book!
    Anyways, I really love the sound of Helen and also the friendship between Helen and her maid! Go female friendship!
    But hmmm... the potential for a love triangle! I don't know how I feel about that yet. I'm so sick and tired of them. Plus the lack of world building. I think I'll wait for the next one to be out before diving into this.
    Fab review, Larissa!!

      It is fairly large but honestly I felt myself wanting to continue which is always a plus.
      And yes, the relationship really does grow into the strong female friendship I crave in YA. Honestly it's so much more than just a relationship between a girl and her maid.

      Yeah well honestly the love triangle (or any romance) isn't really present at all. I just noticed the two guys who seemed interested in the MC and warning bells went off lol. And the world building that was included was very well done?? Hopefully there will be more in furute novels.

      Thank you girl <33

  2. I'm not a huge fan of historical fiction, but I've heard good things about this one so I might try it out some day! :)

    Great review Larissa!

    1. Oooo honestly if you're not a fan of historical I would be quite hesitant to recommend this one. Dark Days Club is honestly primarily a historical and with its large size? If you're not a historical fiction fan it just may not be for you

      Thank you lovely (:

  3. I'm not a fan of this genre, I don't know why but I struggle with it. This is why I didn't request this one but I'm glad you still enjoyed this Larissa!

    1. Yeah in that case I wouldn't recommend The Dark Days Club just because honestly it reads as historical fiction novel with very little hints of paranormal. And with its large size you kinda have to be a fan of the genre to appreciate all of the details. I think you made the right choice for you! (:

  4. AHHH. It is so amazing to read one of your reviews Larissa! I've missed your eloquent and detailed critiques so much. ♥ And I'm so glad you liked this one. I'm always up for another historical fiction novel, and this sounds like it would be a great choice. Definitely going to have to get a copy of this ASAP. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! ♥

    1. Awww Zoe you're such a sweet heart <33 And yes girl you need to read The Dark Days Club, it's perfect for fans of historical fiction and knowing your tastes I'd think you would enjoy this novel. Thank you so much for all of your super kind words.

  5. I've been thinking of buying this one, but you've definitely convinced me to put it on my TBR! Thanks Larissa!

    So I thought I'd followed your blog but apparently I only thought I had because my brain works in mysterious ways! Definitely following now ;P

    1. LOL you're welcome girl! (; Always happy to make the TBR mountain even bigger ahaha.

      Well I'm so glad you remedied that little situation [; Haha, but in all seriousness though- thank you so much. It means a whole lot <33

  6. Yippee, I'm so glad to hear that you enjoyed this one Larissa! I like what you said about how Helen's life doesn't change just because of the paranormal stuff, but instead she still goes about her daily life but with some adjustments. I happened to like the broody Lord Carlston *swoons*. I think she was a great fit character for that time! Lovely review!

  7. I usually struggle with a lot of YA historical because it just feels so unrealistic with the lack of real grit and rawness to the storyline. You usually see the wealthy holding their lavish balls, their opulent lifestyles and basically being pretentious jerks. I'm so glad this one shows life beyond the wealth. Helen sounds incredible! I love a strong young woman who bucks the trend of a male dominated society. I bought a copy of this one after Jeann was talking about it on her radio show, so even more excited to crack it open now. Wonderful review Larissa <3