The Dark Days Club
Penguin, 2016 472 pages
Lady Helen Series #1
Eighteen-year-old orphaned Lady Helen Wrexhall is about to make her debut in the Regency London world of 1812. Her social standing and eligibility is helped by a considerable fortune, but tainted by her dead mother's reputation of being a traitor. Disreputable Lord Carlston returns to London after a long absence (did he kill his wife?) and he begins to pay unwanted attention to the new debutante. A desirable suitor and family friend, the Duke of Selburn, also begins to make advances. Meanwhile, a maid in the household goes missing and Lady Helen and her trusty lady's maid attempt to solve the mystery. As her ball approaches, Lady Helen starts to feel weird twinges. An heirloom belonging to her mother and several convoluted conversation with Lord Carlston reveal that she inherited from her mother the power to be a "Reclaimer", an elite group of individuals with supernatural abilities designed to fight "Deceivers", carefully disguised demons camouflaged among society draining humans of their life force. The Dark Days Club is a group of both Reclaimers and civilians, pledged to rid the world of this evil and they long to have Helen join their ranks. The problem is, Lady Helen is reluctant to join. It involves violence, great physical pain, and the absence of a normal life. She knows the best course of action is to find a way to escape her destiny as a Reclaimer and marry the Duke, yet she struggles with protecting the world from the demons and her growing feelings for the dark Lord Selburn. The fate of the missing servant is revealed and Lady Helen's choice appears to be made, yet some questions remain unanswered leading readers to the next installment in the series The Dark Days Pact, scheduled be be released next month.
I am a big fan of books set in Regency England and was eager to finally have a chance to read this book. The publisher labeled this book as a mash-up between Jane Austen and Buffy the Vampire Slayer and that description is pretty accurate. Lady Helen is living within the restrictions of her time and place, under the watchful eye of a controlling and judgmental uncle. The fact that she's a Reclaimer comes as a surprise to everyone, especially herself, as she seems so ill-fitting for the position. Once Lady Helen grows into her powers, her qualifications seem secure and with help of her side kick/lady's maid, is ready to take on the bad guys. There is enough supernatural in this book to satisfy those fans and enough romance to please that audience as well. The prerequisite love triangle in the post-Twilight world of teen fiction is predominate in the plot and heart straining. Readers will understand Helen's predicament on how to chose the right path and suitor and be rooting for both choices. The supernatural elements are believable to the story and make for a fresh take on this genre. I felt that the book was too long and I started to get a bit antsie about halfway through. The plot twists and action kept me going to the end, although I don't think I will invest the time in reading the sequel. The mystery behind the missing maid was not solved by Lady Helen, which was a bit disappointing and its solution was a bit of an afterthought. This said, young readers won't care. They will want to see Lady Helen kick more demon butt and be anxious to know which guy she ends up choosing. And what did happen to Lord Carlston's wife? This answer alone will lead readers along to the next installment.