“Helen knew the name from her reading…’I see. You are using natural philosophy against them. Knowledge about the world against creatures who are of the nether world.’ He looked up from pocketing the watch, startled. ‘I had not thought to find a fellow rationalist in you, Lady Helen.’…’I rather think, Lord Carlston, that you had not though to find any thought in me at all.”
– Alison Goodman, Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club
London, April 1812. Lady Helen Wrexhall is set to make her debut at the court of Queen Charlotte and officially step into polite Regency society and the marriage mart. Little does Helen know that step will take her from the opulent drawing rooms of Mayfair and the bright lights of Vauxhall Gardens into a shadowy world of missing housemaids and demonic conspiracies.
Standing between those two worlds is Lord Carlston, a man of ruined reputation and brusque manners. He believes Helen has a destiny beyond the ballroom; a sacred and secret duty. Helen is not so sure, especially when she discovers that nothing around her is quite as it seems, including the enigmatic Lord Carlston.
Against a backdrop of whispered secrets in St James’s Palace, soirees with Lord Byron and morning calls from Beau Brummell, Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club is a delightfully dangerous adventure of self-discovery and dark choices that must be made … whatever the consequences.
Late last year I went to the first Harper Collins YA event called Between the Covers! It was held at the State Library of Victoria and showcased the best of their young adult fiction coming up for 2016. It was a really exciting list but the one book that caught all of our attentions was Alison Goodman’s new book Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club. When a book is described as ‘Pride and Prejudice meets Buffy’ you’re going to pay attention! We were treated to a guest appearance from Goodman herself, a regency dance lesson and we walked away from the event with a bag of goodies under our arms! Among the goodies was a proof copy of Lady Helen that I added to my ‘I really, really want to read this’ TBR pile. I couldn’t leave it there long… the anticipation was too great!
I have quite a fondness for stories set in the Regency period. I don’t remember reading Pride and Prejudice for the first time but it certainly sparked a love for this fabulous period in time! How could you not like a book full of Lords, balls, dancing, dresses and gossip? Set in London 1812, Lady Helen Wrexhall is about to be presented to the Queen and introduced to the members of Society. Poor Lady Helen must be on her best behaviour; this includes avoiding the topic of her mother, at all cost. When Lady Helen learns of the housemaid missing from her Uncle’s household, her natural curiosity leads to an introduction to the dark side of Regency London. Lady Helen is desperate to learn the truth about her mother even if it means trusting Lord Carlston, the most disliked person in London!
I cannot praise this book enough! Goodman spoke of her desire to make Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club as historically accurate as possible; she studied the period for 11 months before she felt ready to write with any kind of authority. Goodman read copious books, learned period dances, wore period clothes and became acquainted with the prominent figures of the time… oh and she created her own kind of demon! Lady Helen rubs shoulders with Lord Byron and Queen Charlotte in a society far removed from our own yet she infuses a sense of timelessness in her characters. Lady Helen may belong to the privileged upper class yet her freedom is non-existent. She must be meek and compliant, something the reader quickly recognises as being far from her true character. She is quick witted and intelligent and I think young women today will be able to relate with Lady Helen’s need to forge her own path. She does not fear letting men know she is equal to them and there were two scenes that really made me laugh and that demonstrate how Lady Helen values herself:
“One of the young Miss Cecils gave a loud moan and fell back in her chair, her breath coming in shrill, sobbing cries, pale hands beating the air. Such a dramatic onset of vapours broke everyone’s shocked thrall…By rights, Helen should have been clustered around Miss Cecil with the other ladies, but she stayed on the sofa, listening to Mr Collison’s report“ and the quote at the top of this post.
Goodman has created a fabulously strong character without compromising on the integrity of her story. Helen questions everything and is determined to understand everything instead of believing what she is told. Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club is a fantastic book and one you should definitely add to your reading pile!
AUTHOR: Alison Goodman
PUBLISHER: Harper Collins Australia
PUB DATE: January 2016
Thank you to Harper Collins for sending me a reading copy in exchange for an honest review!