The Dark Days Club on January 26, 2016
London, April 1812. On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap?
We are super excited to be a part of the blog tour for The Dark Days Club and we had the chance to ask Alison a few questions and wanted to share with you!
Describe The Dark Days Club in 5 words.
Pride and Prejudice meets Buffy.
Where did the idea for The Dark Days Club come from?
The idea came from my love of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer and my equal infatuation with kickass heroines like Buffy and Jessica Jones. I wanted to put the two together to create a thrilling supernatural adventure in Regency England with just a dash of dashing romance. I also wanted my 1812 London to be historically accurate so that my readers could immerse themselves in all things Regency and walk alongside Lady Helen as she discovers that her upper class, luxurious world has a hidden demonic underside.
Why should the readers love Lady Helen Wrexhall?
She is a young woman of her time—I didn’t want her to just be a modern girl transplanted into the Regency. The way she views her world is that of an eighteen-year-old noblewoman in 1812. Having said that, she also has a lot of the qualities that are admirable today: she is courageous, curious, fair-minded, a steadfast and loyal friend, and she is kind. She also has a dry sense of humor and a few rather interesting “extra” talents that develop throughout the novel.
Did any of your characters surprise you by doing something you didn’t expect?
I’ve just finished Book 2 in the series, and something happened at the end that I wasn’t expecting! That was quite a shock and it was so sad it made me cry at my desk. Can’t say anything more – spoilers!
Do you have any strange writing habits?
No, I’m not strange at all (she says with a strange look in her eye).
What are you currently reading?
I am currently reading research books for Book 3 in the Lady Helen series. The third book is set in Bath during the winter social season, so I am reading the October, November and December 1812 issues of the Bath Chronicle (the Bath newspaper), and the diaries of Miss Fanny Chapman, a Regency lady who lived in Bath. Her diaries are available on line (https://fannychapmansdiary.wordpress.com). They are a marvelous insight into the life of a genteel Regency lady.
Any advice for aspiring writers?
My top three pieces of advice are:
- Read as much as you can: great stuff, not so great stuff, books, scripts, and stories of all genres. Don’t read them just as entertainment, think about why something works as a story for you or why it doesn’t. Think about the techniques and how you—as a creator of stories–might be able to use them.
- Read some books about the craft of writing, or if you have the resources, take some writing classes. Learn about the craft of constructing stories. John Marsden’s book “Everything I Know About Writing” is a good how-to book.
- Get in front of that screen or page and write, write, write. Practice is essential. Don’t be too hard on yourself in the first draft, just let the words and ideas flow. Then, when it comes to rewriting (and all serious writers rewrite their work) bring in the craft that you have learned from books or classes and your own ideas about what makes a good story.
What’s next for you? Are you working on anything right now that you can tell us about?
I am currently working on Book 3 of the Lady Helen series. I’m also writing a short Regency adventure called “The Benevolent Society of Ill Mannered Ladies” for a new anthology of stories called And Then…The Great Big Book of Awesome Adventure Tales which will be published this year by Clandestine Press.
Favorite Song (right now): The Sound of Silence by Disturbed. It is a truly magnificent cover version of the Simon & Garfunkel classic.
Favorite Book (right now): Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.
Favorite TV Show/Movie : Limitless. It is so inventive in the way it tells its stories.
Favorite Word: Dirigible
Favorite Color : Olive Green
The Dark Days Club is the first book I have read by Alison Goodman but I can tell you it won’t be my last. I have been on a historical fiction kick lately and the second I cracked the cover on this book, I was pulled into the story and couldn’t put it down.
Lady Helen Wrexhall is eighteen and has been raised since she was eight by her aunt and uncle due to the death of her parents. To add another layer to her story, we find out that Helen’s mother was seen as a loose cannon and Helen’s guardian’s biggest fears are that her mother’s reputation will create problems for Helen. Since Helen is now of age, her presentation to the queen and her season is what will determine whether she finds a match amongst the gentlemen of society.
The thing I love about historical fiction (if they are done well) is that they bring me into the story and Goodman does a fantastic job of setting up the story here by showing the restrictions women had placed upon them during the 1800’s. To be a lady in Regency London meant you had to follow the rules or become an outcast or even put into an asylum. Admittedly the first quarter of the book is really setting up the story and while it built slowly, it didn’t bother me.
Lady Helen is an interesting character. She starts out as someone who is focused on making her family proud and that means she can’t embarrass them. She also still very much loves her mother and father and when she hears disparaging comments about her mother, she has to fight her reaction to defend her because she knows it will cause a stir. In addition to that, she doesn’t really know her mother’s history and that is something she wants to remedy. As she is introduced to new people throughout the novel, Helen begins to learn more about her mother and it only reinforces her love for her mother.
I don’t want to say too much about the Reclaimers and the Dark Days Club but as Helen becomes more involved with Lord Carlston and the Club, she learns more about herself and what is important to her. The paranormal aspect is what adds a twist to this story and separates it from other historical fiction novels I have recently read. I loved the idea of this small group of people that possess the strength and ability to protect the world from these demons who wreak havoc on society (at all levels). The fact that the main character is someone who has restrictions placed upon her by society and she has to figure out how to make it all come together while still maintaining her reputation was just another fantastic layer to this story that I loved.
Lord Carlston is another main character and he definitely has a history…and it isn’t good. His wife was murdered a few years back and everyone within Helen’s circle believes he killed her. Because of that, he left but now that he is back as Helen’t mentor, his reputation makes it even more difficult for them to connect. Thankfully Lord Carlston has some really well placed friends in society which helps them do what they need to. I actually enjoyed seeing what he would do next to get where he needed to or have Helen where he needed her to be. In the beginning he is definitely closed off but as the story progresses I loved seeing him open himself up to sharing his fate with someone who really understands what it means (or will mean) to be a Reclaimer. And despite decisions that Helen made, he was always willing to support her and protect her…which I loved.
The secondary characters are also well done and they help move the story along. From Lady Margaret and her brother to Helen’s friends and family, all are well developed and add to the story. One thing I have to say is I wanted Helen’s brother to support her more. I get it…he was also restricted by society and it had been driven into his head what is/is not acceptable behavior but I wanted him to be more accepting of who Helen is whether he agreed with her or not. I was glad that in the end he came through and look forward to seeing how their relationship adjusts as the series moves forward.
Goodman definitely did her research for this book. Between the clothes, the society nuances, and the overall atmosphere, I felt like I was navigating society right alongside Helen and I loved every minute of it. After I finished the book, I found her pinterest page just so I could see all the images that she describes and uses throughout the book. Consider checking it out if you are curious – I love those sorts of things and this only helped me to picture everything that was being described.
If you are looking for a book that has a page turning story, a historical bend, and some great characters, definitely check this one out. I loved the twists and turns Goodman has put into this story and I can’t wait to see what the next book in this series brings. The Dark Days Club has made my list of favorites and I will be looking forward to more from Goodman.
Thank you to the publisher for the review copy!