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The Dark Days Club: A Lady Helen Novel Paperback – 21 Jan 2016
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"It's a simple concept, of course [...] but what makes this a success is that it's written in such a wholeheartedly convincing style: the research into London in 1812 is impeccable, from the Pride and Prejudice-echoing dances to the politics of the day. The prose is as witty as Elizabeth Bennet herself and the whole book is a joy from start to finish. We'll be hearing more from Lady Helen - thank the lud." --SFX Magazine
From the Author
Alison is the author of EON and EONA, a New York Times Bestselling fantasy duology. Her latest novel --The Dark Days Club-- is Book 1 in a new trilogy, and will be published in the USA and UK in January 2016, and December 2015 in Australia. It has been reviewed by Publishers Weekly as "a delicious collision of Regency romance and dark fantasy". Alison calls it "Pride and Prejudice meets Buffy in English high society". EON was short-listed for Victorian, NSW, and WA Premier’s Literary awards, and won the 2008 Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Novel. It was also listed as an American Library Association Best Young Adult Book (2010), a James Tiptree Jr. Honour book, and a CBCA Notable Book. Alison’s first novel, Singing the Dogstar Blues, won the 1998 Aurealis Award for Best Young Adult Novel, and was also listed as an American Library Association Best Book (2004) and CBCA Notable Book. Her second novel, a crime thriller titled Killing the Rabbit, was published in the USA and shortlisted for the 2007 Davitt Award. Alison was a D.J. O’Hearn Memorial Fellow at the University of Melbourne and holds a Master of Arts. She lives in Australia with her husband and their Machiavellian Jack Russell Terrier, and is currently working on Book 2 and 3 or The Lady Helen series.See all Product description
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.... then of course when it turned up on my kindle, I glanced at the first page and then devoured it in about two days flat, all the while sending my friend emails along the lines of THIS IS SO COOL THE REGENCY STUFF IS ACTUALLY BELIEVABLE. (Also the US version of the cover is awsome and would have made me pick it up instantly, so there's that).
And it is magnificently researched, the use of tone and dialogue (the slang is fantastic) and brand-names and character frame-of-mind fits in perfectly and it isn't done in an arch, snide way as a lot of the steampunk/Regency supernatural romance variations on this genre seem to be. The main character has believable curtails on her life and reputation and actually has to work around the consequences of what she does with the restrictions of polite society (it's also an interesting look at how her wealth and a title is pretty much a nicely gilded cage). More importantly, Helen is sensible and smart and yet a believably relatively sheltered eighteen year old. Sure, there's some potential demon hunting but relatively little romance (which makes a nice change). I can't remember the last time I actually enjoyed any book in this genre so much.
The plot isn't exactly groundbreaking - 18 year old heiress with mysteriously scandalous deceased parents finds a heirloom and discovers she's a super-special demon hunter. There may also be a tall, dark and potentially scandalous Duke involved. To be fair, there are only so many places you can go plot-wise with Regency demon-hunting - but the way it's written and the way the characters deal with the situation are what work so well in this case. There's a lovely scene set in Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, and the way it incorporates the dictates of what was essentially a deeply shallow society fashion around the demons and the impact of overseas and domestic politics is well thought through and pretty clever.
Did I mention I was impressed? Also, if tall, dark, handsome and potentially dangerous Dukes are your Regency thing, there's one of them too :-)
Helen is initially a great character, although she has detailed thoughts on pretty much everything which can be quite long-winded info dumps. She's not your typical damsel at first though, in fact she goes and gets what she wants, does what she wants and doesn't really care what people think about it in the first part of the book; she has a dark streak, with lots of potential, which you might be led to believe comes from her dark reputation left behind by her late mother, but you'll soon learn she's actually quite complex. But the problem with Helen is, she's given such a great opportunity, as a woman in an oppressive period of time when you would imagine having any power at all would be fabulous and well-received, whereby she has an ability which means she can fight demons. Sadly, she doesn't embrace this and make the most of it; she almost seems a little bit of a wimp and instead moans a great deal about the challenges of such a gift when you're a woman and shouldn't have to deal with these things. I mean, if anyone wants to give me some bad-ass superpowers I would be ripping the offer out of their hands and donning my sparkly cape in an entirely heroic stance akin to Wonder Woman before you could even blink. Helen, not so much.
The story largely focuses on Helen and her demon fighting adventures in a dark and twisty world away from the glittery ballrooms and pretentious Aunts. Fabulous for me, I love a bit of dark and twisty, and she does all of this alongside a particularly handsome Lord who thinks Helen might be the biggest, best demon butt kicker around. I honestly thought this story might become quite savage and exciting, but it focuses more on the fact Helen is a lady than the fact that she can really mess up your face.
A wasted opportunity in my eyes for an idea with so much potential; I just prefer my heroines a bit more delightfully rebellious and feisty, but each to their own.
Helena is hilarious, she's sarcastic and strong in an era that doesn't have the best ideals of women's independence. The historical detail of Regency England is fascinating, I felt like I was in that time period while I was reading. I loved how the flirting was in this book, it felt right for that era and I couldn't get enough.
The female friendship between Helena and her maid and with other members of the Dark Days Club was refreshing as they supported each other no matter what was happening in their lives.
The Dark Days Club itself is fascinating, how the magic elements work in the world and what different objects can do. How demons are found it intriguing and the fight scenes are both fun and tense to read.