The Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman

The Blurb On The Back:

Brighton, July 1812. 

Lady Helen Wrexhall has taken refuge in Brighton following the scandalous events at her presentation ball.  Now she must complete her Reclaimer training, ready to battle the Grand Deceiver believed to have arrived in England.

Her mentor, Lord Carlston, is facing his own inner battle, and as he fights the violent darkness within his soul, Lady Helen’s loyalty is tested.  Entrusted with a secret mission by the Home Office, she must make the agonising choice between betraying those around her or breaking her oath to the Dark Days Club.  

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

It’s 3rd July 1812, 4 weeks after THE DARK DAYS CLUB.  Lady Helen Wrexhall now lives with Lady Margaret Ridgewell and Mr Hammond in Brighton.  Officially she’s recovering from an illness suffered during her ball but in reality, Lord Carlston is training her to take her Reclaimer oath while his Terrene, Mr Quinn is training Darby, ready for the two to be bound together in a secret ceremony.

Although Carlston insists that Helen is integral to defeating the Grand Deceiver, Mr Pike (who runs the Dark Days Club and loathes Carlston) is unconvinced that a mere woman is capable.  When Benchley’s former Terrene, Lowry, offers to sell Benchley’s journal to the Club it’s on condition that Helen conduct the negotiation.  Sworn to keep the mission secret – even from Carlston and Darby – Helen discovers that Lowry wants an unthinkable price but if she refuses to pay, she will betray everything that the Club is sworn to protect …

The second in Alison Goodman’s YA Regency fantasy trilogy is as good as the first, combining action and great period research that incorporates actual events and historical characters but the love triangle is too obviously skewered, Lady Helen is irritatingly impetuous at times and the age of the protagonists makes me wonder if this is actually New Adult rather than YA.  I believed in Lady Helen’s emotional development as she realises just what it means to be a Reclaimer and what she’ll be giving up and enjoyed the scenes where she tries to be a man.  However, she still reacts to events rather than drives them and while she describes herself as being driven by head rather than heart it’s never borne out by her actions.  Carlston is a little two-dimensional for me and the attraction between him and Helen is more physical than emotional while the love triangle with Selburn (who’s arrogance and refusal to leave Helen alone left me cold) given how obviously it’s skewered in one direction.  I could also do with a glossary of the different types of Deceiver, which remain confusing and the age of Helen and Carlston (18 and 26) makes me wonder if this is really YA.  That said, Goodman neatly incorporates some real events from 1812, has a flair for action scenes and a great sense of period so although I think I have guessed book 3’s big revelation I will definitely read the conclusion.

THE DARK DAYS PACT was released in the United Kingdom on 26th January 2017.  Thanks to Walker Books for the review copy of this book.

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