Published by Viking Books for Young Readers on January 26th 2016
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?
The Regency Era was only about 40 years in duration, but it was a big time in British history. It lasted from 1795 to 1837, and encompassed the time that mad George III was seen as unfit to rule, and his son served as regent. It’s known, especially, as the time that Jane Austen lived and wrote. Her books have immortalized the period for many readers and movie-watchers. Oh yeah, and the Napoleonic Wars were underway, as well. That’s important, too.
Alison Goodman’s The Dark Days Club is a historical-paranormal YA set in this period. It’s about a girl, an orphan of extremely high birth, who discovers that she’s from a line of demon hunters. I would have loved to read this concept in an adult-style novel. Is this a sign that I’m growing up or something?? Part of it is that I could have done with more period detail in The Dark Days Club, and a lot of that sort of extra padding is removed from YA books.
Part of my desire for detail is that I was lucky enough to study under a prominent Regency-era literature scholar in college. Because of that, I simply love to read and re-read anything Regency, be it books written in that period to books about the period. I could have read chapters of nothing but historical detail in The Dark Days Club and would have been as happy as a clam. Unfortunately, although a lot of research clearly went into the book, there just wasn’t enough finely-wrought components to whet my appetite.
Sometimes, it’s a compliment when I say there wasn’t enough book for my taste. In this case, it’s not a good remark. I wanted more detail, finer characterizations, more of a lyrical style… This book was just okay, and I am so disappointed over that. The Dark Days Club was just an okay book, and I wanted it to blow my socks off.
Lady Helen, our protagonist, was spunky, but spunky isn’t enough for me to like a character. Nearly all female protagonists are spunky these days. (In fact, it’s getting to the point where weaker-willed, or timid female characters are popping up as counterpoints, more and more in YA.) I would have liked Helen to have a more distinct personality.
Some of the details about the demons were silly. Perhaps Goodman was trying to make her creatures unique or distinct, but the “whips” and the process of fighting them made me look sideways. In fact, there were quite a few moments in the book that were a touch youthful or immature for my tastes.
I don’t care for moments where the romantic hero’s ‘pain and suffering’ can be seen in his ‘tortured’ eyes. Nor moments where the heroine lets her thoughts breathlessly linger on the breadth and span of her love interest’s shoulders. I crave a touch more grit. Just a touch.
So, ultimately, The Dark Days Club was merely… so-so. It’s such a disappointment, because I’m starting to wear holes in my copies of Austen bo. Someone please give me some Regency recs, stat!