Lynn: Here’s something you might not have guessed about me: I’m a closet Georgette Heyer fan from way back. It’s true. When I’m yearning for a comfort read, I often turn to the creator of Regency romance and her murders-with-manners. Her books have gotten me through some sad days and I’m here to say that I think the lady would have approved of Alison Goodman’s new book, The Dark Days Club (2016).
Goodman, who offered a fascinating new look at dragons in her Eon series (starting with Dragoneye Reborn, 2008), jumps kid-slippers-first into the Regency court of George III, where we meet 18-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall as she prepares to make her debut. In a time when manners, behavior, and family trees were of the utmost importance, Lady Helen has to be even more careful than most due to the scandalous behavior of her deceased mother. But even as she negotiates the pitfalls of society, Lady Helen discovers that there is a dangerous enemy rising and the very survival of England itself may depend on her developing powers. Should she risk joining the members of the Dark Days Club, or should she heed her mother’s advice: to seek love and happiness?
Truly horrifying monsters add a dark horror
to even the more frivolous scenes.
Goodman’s meticulously detailed world-building was one of my favorite elements of her previous books and that strength is just as evident here. The gorgeous descriptions of the Regency court balls, beautiful dresses, and the lavish social world are wonderfully wrought and show careful research. The truly horrifying monsters that walk amidst it all and unseen by most add a dark horror to even the more frivolous scenes. The mash-up of genres is brilliantly done as Goodman creates original, memorable twists on both, and the will she/won’t she question has an intriguing difference, too. Goodman explores the perceptions and realities of society and the contradictions of women’s roles and restrictions, lacing it all with a dark sensuality. The book may start a bit slowly, but the set-up is necessary for the highly charged rush that follows. Give this to readers looking for something a bit different and expect them to demand the next installment right away. And while they wait, you might try them on some of the Grand Dame Heyer’s best.