The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman – Review

This book is set in 1812 in London, but it is not the place that we have heard of before. Lady Helen is not ordinary either, she meets Lord Carlston and begins to realise that she is not who she thought she was. She also realises that with this new found identity she carries a huge weight of responsibility. But given the choice, would she actually be able to let part of herself go?

For me, the best thing about this story was the amount of historical detail. From the first page I knew that this would not be a book lacking detail or world building, it was packed with these things. The author had obviously really done her research and immersed herself in the Regency era, as is also proved by the author’s note, if the book alone wasn’t enough proof! It really added to the book in my opinion, I know that some people probably found that it was too bogged down with detail, but for me this wasn’t the case. It didn’t feel like too much, it just made the book better and more easy to get lost in as the world feels more real when there is at least some genuine fact or detail in it. Without this historical detail, the rating I gave would definitely drop by at least a heart. It just made the book so interesting and genuine to read.

However, just because there was a lot of research, it didn’t mean that the book had less imagination or magic. It was full of originality, I loved the whole magic system or whatever it was, and the inventiveness of the Deceivers. I think that this whole aspect of the book really worked well with and complimented the Regency setting and the historical side of the novel. The imaginativeness combined with the setting made it a joy to read. I love how the author didn’t take any shortcuts, instead she definitely put time into developing a really interesting idea for the magic side of it, and put in the time to research the setting. It definitely paid off.

I also loved the characters. They were really developed and three dimensional in my opinion. Helen was realistic for her time period, rather than instantly escaping the person she had been brought up to be, which I think happens quite a lot in YA. Helen had the spirit and the humanity and the desperation to escape the roles she was supposed to fill at the time, as I think she should if her feelings are going to be realistic, as of course the character would want to be able to be herself, but she didn’t immediately find it easy to suddenly have her purpose in life changed, and she didn’t straight away leap into her new role without looking back. I think this is more realistic, she wouldn’t straight away leave her entire life behind without considering it, like a lot of YA protagonists do.

Also, the writing was another huge positive for this book. There was a huge range of vocabulary compared to what you see in a lot of YA, and even a lot of Adult fiction. So I really enjoyed reading this, although I admit I am happy I read it as an ebook so I could easily look up a few words I had never heard before! However, one thing I would say is that some of this writing seemed a little forced. It did feel like at times the author was literally looking through a thesaurus and just throwing in words just because they sounded more of the era, and so there was in fact a wider range of vocabulary. I don’t know if she has just done this to fit more with the time the book is set, or whether she always writes in this style. Comment below if you know, as I haven’t read any of her other books. So I did like the writing, it just felt a bit overthought at times.

Despite all the good things about this book, without a doubt my favourite aspect of this book is how it displayed all of the etiquette and customs of the Regency era, and how careful you have to be at all times to not ruin your reputation, how reserved everyone was. But what was so good in this book was how it showed what was going on under the surface, all the meaning going on within what seems like a completely normal statement and greeting. I loved how it showed the Dark Days Club all communicating etc without breaking the surface. It was just so awesome, and that is the main thing that made this book so great.

The one negative thing about this, and I am sad to say it as I really wanted this to be five hearts for me, but it was a bit slow. I just think that it was quite long at 500 pages or so, and I think that maybe 100 pages could have been cut? I wouldn’t want to lose the detail, but there were some passages that were unnecessary and prevented the book from moving at a slightly faster pace. I didn’t mind the balls and dinners or whatever, as it would be less realistic if none of this took place, but it could have retained this and still been cut down. Also, I found all of the romance so predictable. I can’t remember exactly what happened, but there was a scene between two characters and I thought I could really tell what was going to happen, but then I thought no, the author is better than that, it won’t be that predictable. Well, it was. There wasn’t a lot of romance, but what there was was just way too predictable, as well as some plot points.

I would definitely recommend this book! The amount of historical detail and research that went into it was incredible, and the book was so original and imaginative. I loved the atmosphere, how Regency England worked with all the monsters and magic, and how it showed what was going on beneath the surface of all the characters’ reserved exteriors. The writing had such a wide range of vocabulary used, and was mostly a pleasure to read. However, I think it could have been quite a bit shorter and it suffered for it, being a bit boring in parts.

Also, can I just note how awful and misleading the UK cover is??! I really dislike when covers show actual people being the characters, and also from the cover I would think this was for younger readers rather than YA! This book is actually quite mature, and it definitely wouldn’t be suitable for younger readers, yet you wouldn’t believe it from the cover.

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2 thoughts on “The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman – Review

  1. Great review there! I do love when an author shows through their writing that they’ve done their research, especially for historical fiction! I’m happy to see that you enjoyed this one. I also hate covers with “real people” on it… Gosh.. it’s so unattractive… 😦

    – Lashaan

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