Published: December 14th, 2015 by Viking Books for Young Readers
Length: 482 pages
Genre: YA, historical fiction, fantasy/paranormal
Source: Borrowed from the library
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?
As a big fan of both historical fiction and fantasy, this book obviously was quite appealing to me. I definitely enjoyed it, but it wasn’t perfect.
I had a bit of a problem with the pacing. There were a few stretches that seemed really slow to me. It takes quite awhile for all of the fantasy elements to start up in the beginning. I didn’t mind this too much as I was really enjoying getting to see the setting and getting a feel for what Helen’s life was like. Even after the fantasy elements do start up, there are sometimes pretty decent-sized stretches where nothing (or very little) related to the Dark Days Club or being a Reclaimer happens. I think this could have been avoided if the book was a bit shorter. At almost 500 pages, I think it definitely could have been cut down even just a tiny bit and the pacing would have been improved.
I will say that Goodman did a great job of helping the reader learn about the Dark Days Club and what it means to be a Reclaimer. Helen is learning about it for the first time too and through her receiving explanations about all of it, the reader gets a good explanation that’s easy to follow and keep track of.
Another problem I had with this was that there didn’t seem to be a consistent plot other than Helen learning about what she is and what is expected of her. When I started reading the book, I was expecting the plot to focus around this and around Helen’s missing maid, but the maid doesn’t play as much of a role as I thought she would. I don’t want to spoil anything so I won’t say much else other than about halfway (maybe two-thirds of the way) through the book, the plot shifts to a completely different thing that focuses much more on Helen’s role as a Reclaimer. I would have liked for there to be a more consistent plot or for those two plots to blend together better.
I really loved the role that the setting played in all of this though. Setting a fantasy story in Regency London with a high-class main character was a great idea of Goodman’s. She has to sneak around because no one is supposed to know about the Dark Days Club other than the people who are in it, but the rules about propriety and women during this time period added a whole new layer of complexity to it. For example, the person who is pretty much in charge of introducing her to everything and teaching her about things is a man, but in this time period it’s not considered proper for a man and woman to be left alone unless they’re related or married.
I also thoroughly enjoyed the relationship between Helen and Lord Carlston. He’s accused of having murdered his wife in the past so naturally everyone, including Helen, is really wary around him and no one trusts him. But Helen also feels as though he’s the only person who can really help her understand what’s happening, so she feels really conflicted on whether or not she can (or should) be around him.
All in all, this is a solid story but definitely has some imperfections. If you like historical fiction and/or fantasy, check it out. It’s an entertaining read and I think fans of the genres will enjoy it despite its flaws.