In 1812 London, young women practice their needlework, perfect their curtsies, and plan for a genteel future. But as 18-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall enters society, several not-so-proper occurrences suggest that maybe she’s not suited for a respectable life: the heightened sense perception, the growing restlessness, the nagging mystery of her late mother’s treasonous activities. On top of that, her friend has been involved in a bizarre scandal and her maid has disappeared.
Enter the disreputable (and handsome) Lord Carlston, who informs Helen that she’s a Reclaimer, one with abilities to fight the demonic creatures possessing the bodies of everyone from the shadowy figures who prowl the night to the lords and ladies of the nobility. Helen’s always dreamt of a more exciting life, but she wasn’t quite expecting an invitation to join a club that combats soul-sucking demons.
While The Dark Days Club is set in the Regency era, Goodman is careful to avoid some of the clichéd patterns of the genre by depicting early 1800s England beyond the bare minimum of pretty gowns and charming speech. The slower pacing can be frustrating, but it allows Goodman to fully create an authentic London, and more importantly, a nuanced protagonist. It’s refreshing to see a character like Helen: Not a 21st century heroine effortlessly transcending the oppressive 19th century setting, but a normal girl who resists the temptation of this dangerous path. Helen’s torn between her desire for a proper future and her fascination with her strange abilities, and it’s in those moments of doubt when her courage and reason shine through the most. Lucky for us, this fantastic introduction leaves us hungry for more. A-