Category: Paranormal Young Adult
Author: Alison Goodman
Format: Advanced Reader’s Copy (ARC), 496 pages
Pub Date: January 31, 2017
Summary of Publisher:
June 1812. Just weeks after her catastrophic coming-out ball, Lady Helen Wrexhall—now disowned by her uncle—is a full member of the demon-hunting Dark Days Club. Her mentor, Lord Carlston, has arranged for Helen to spend the summer season in Brighton so that he can train her new Reclaimer powers. However, the long-term effects of Carlston’s Reclaimer work have taken hold, and his sanity is beginning to slip. At the same time, Carlston’s Dark Days Club colleague and nemesis will stop at nothing to bring Helen over to his side—and the Duke of Selburn is determined to marry her. The stakes are even higher for Helen as she struggles to become the warrior that everyone expects her to be.
- From Goodreads
The Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman is the exciting second instalment in the Lady Helen series, a continuing story of the journey the protagonist, Lady Helen Wrexhall, must take as a gifted Reclaimer-in-training in the growing complicated world of supernatural, demonic Deceivers and the hard, political entanglements of the Dark Days Club.
While it would be beneficial to read the novel’s predecessor, The Dark Days Club, by the same author, first, to experience a richer reading knowledge of the series, it’s not entirely necessary in enjoying the novel itself as a stand-alone book.
Though I am the first to confess, I don’t naturally gravitate towards the Young Adult genre (since I’m almost three times the age of a young-adult and my literary taste usually lends itself to literary fiction, poetry, or the classics), I highly enjoyed this novel even more than I enjoyed its predecessor.
With its re-introduction of familiar characters and the incoming welcome of new characters to enrich the story, as well as a diversified, twisting plot, the pacing of the novel was quick and unrelenting in its skill to tease, lead, and interest the reader into continually turning all of its 496 pages with a frenzied anticipation.
It’s fantastical, in that, for its contemporary readers, its setting resides in the time of the Regency era in Great Britain best characterised for its upper class society, its renaissance of finery, arts, architecture, and propriety, while at the other end of the spectrum, also reveals the underbelly of squalor, thievery, womanising, drinking, and gambling that existed at that time in the dingy alleys of the poor.
And then amongst that, the supernatural world of the paranormal: the Deceivers disguised to the the human eye except to those with Reclaimer gifts, whose intent is unclear except to feed on human antipathy and eventually kill its greatest threat, a direct inheritor of Reclaimer powers.
And while the layered plot moves quickly to reveal more of the book’s mystery, which deepens the urgency of the thematic fight between good and evil, it’s the ongoing repressed passion and chemistry between Lady Wrexhall and her mentor, Lord Carlston, that is the driving force in the novel.
Their physical and emotional connection is purposeful to furthering the plot and significant in giving the book its quintessential YA romantic flavour.
And grounded in these characters’ emotional typography, is an inevitable violence deemed by supernatural powers, which is both passionate, somewhat frightening, yet also reflects a tone of powerful sensuality—wrought with a foreboding destiny, much to the regret of Wrexhall and Carlston, whose interconnectedness and perpetual gravitation towards one another is always fraught with denial and a forbidden love, which is much to their frustration—and the reader’s—but makes for powerful reading.
But, readers will have to wait for the next instalment in the series, which will hopefully reveal the identity of the book’s Grand Deceiver, his/her eventual downfall, the destruction of the danger posed by the Deceiver community, and the outcome and hopefully rightful and just conclusion of Helen and Carlston’s forbidden relationship.
This young adult paranormal novel is a book propelled by action, mystery, violence, secrets, darkness, a fight against gender-norms and propriety, and the unplanned dictatorship of The Dark Days Club, and the surprising flourish of love and tenderness found in the least expected places.
It is, overall, a frenetic and enjoyable read and I wait impatiently for the next novel in the series to appear!
Characters: 4 stars
Plot: 4 stars
Language/Narrative: 3.5 stars
Dialogue: 3.5 stars
Pacing: 4 stars
Cover Design: 3 stars
A special thanks to Penguin Random House Canada on behalf of Viking for providing me with a copy of The Dark Days Pact (Lady Helen #2), in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author:
Alison Goodman is the author of The Dark Days Club, the first Lady Helen novel, about which Entertainment Weekly said, “This fantastic introduction leaves us hungry for more.” She is also the author of the internationally besetselling and award-winning Eon/Eona duology, as well as the YA science fiction thriller Singing the Dogstar Blues. She was a D.J. O’Hern Memorial Fellow at Melbourne University, holds a Master of Arts, and teaches creative writing at the postgraduate level.
Alison Goodman and her husband live in Victoria, Australia, with their irrepressible terrier, Xander.
- From the novel.