Review: The Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Dark Days Pact by Alison GoodmanThe Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman
Series: Lady Helen #2
Published by Viking Juvenile on January 31, 2017
Genres: Historical, Fantasy, Mystery
Pages: 496
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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five-stars

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 and her maid, Darby, to spend the summer season in Bristol, where Helen can sharpen her Reclaimer powers. Then the long-term effects of Carlston’s Reclaimer work take hold, and his sanity begins 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 ever higher for Helen, and her decision will truly change the world…

Before I read The Dark Days Pact, I took the time to reread The Dark Days Club. Though Goodman does a good job recapping, I’m glad that I’d reacquainted myself with all the intricacies of the world building and plot, of which there are many. As amazing as The Dark Days Club is, The Dark Days Pact blows its predecessor out of the water. The plot, characterization, and pacing all level up for an experience that is fast-paced, intense, and unputdownable.

Where The Dark Days Club mostly moves at a sedate pace, languishing in historical setting and detail (which I do love), The Dark Days Pact moves at a swift speed even at its slowest. Towards the end, the pace moves to a breakneck speed (aka, Reclaimer speed). Unlike in the first book, the sequel takes place in a much shorter time span, one chapter leading directly to another, which keeps the pace a-moving.

Lady Helen agreed to remain a Reclaimer and do her part for Queen and country at the end of The Dark Days Club, but she still hasn’t adjusted to what that actually means. In Brighton with Carlston and co., she’s training to be a Reclaimer, but it doesn’t come easily to her. One of the things I love about this series is Helen’s slow, realistic evolution from rule-following lady to badass with magical powers. Just having the powers doesn’t make Helen okay with what she has to do or break her of all she’s been taught about the role of women. With every day, she becomes more confident and more comfortable with stepping outside of the boundaries of propriety.

In a lot of fantasy novels where a heroine (or hero) comes into a supernatural power, they just intuitively know how to use it. There’s maybe one or two training sessions but mostly they bust out new powers in a battle just when they desperately need them to save the day. Not so Helen. She trains, and she doesn’t take on the new skills easily. Sometimes she manages to leverage that training when fighting, but sometimes she does not. The fact that she’s been brought up to be genteel and demure hinders her progress. She does manage some things instinctively by accident, but mostly she blunders through doing the best she can.

Part of Lsdy Helen’s training is learning to pass as a man in dress, speech, and manner. I absolutely love this. For one thing, it makes a lot of sense for being the best way for a woman to be effective in this role without drawing attention to herself. Also, Goodman highlights the fact that Helen’s not a typically attractive heroine; Helen’s hot in an androgynous way. Well, technically the book doesn’t say she’s hot, but in my mind she totally is. What the book does say is that she passes very well as a gentleman with her lanky frame and strong jaw. Additionally, I love that she has a bit of an ANTM freak out when they go to cut her hair. Bits like that are what make her feel so real.

Meanwhile, this ship is going to kill me. Goodman is mean. The slow burn is so incredibly on fire. Goodman plays really well on historical romance shippy elements. There’s a massively hot scene where Carlston just helps her take her coat off. NBD, right? Except, BD. VERY BD. The amount of awareness they have of each other is ridiculously intense. View Spoiler »

Though the Duke annoys the hell out of me in this book, I can also acknowledge that this love triangle has been handled in a really effective way. Selburn comes across as a controlling asshat through modern eyes, but Helen considers him nice, which, for his time period, he actually very much is. He’s not Carlston who wants to be a partner instead of a protector, but he does appreciate Lady Helen for who she is, mostly; his little patriarchal brain just cannot deal with that last bit of it. As much as I want to slap him about the head, I’m grateful Selburn’s more misguided than a clear villain. View Spoiler »

Lady Margaret continues to be just jealous about Lord Carlston, and I do hope to see something interesting done with her character in book three. Quinn and Darby are rocks, and, while I would have liked a bit more with them, I really do love them bunches. The real surprise star of The Dark Days Pact is Mr. Hammond. He ends up being an amazing friend for Lady Helen, and it is my dearest wish that he get a cute gay ship in book three.

The plot really just blows my mind honestly. I harp a lot in negative book reviews about how the plot shouldn’t be convenient, and The Dark Days Pact is a good example of what to do. Throughout the book, Lady Helen and Lord Carlston make plans about to handle what they’re facing, and things just keep going more and more wrong. They keep adjusting and things keep working out horribly.

Obviously, everything comes together beautifully at the end…before Goodman gets one last kick in at your heart to rev you up for the final (??? is it?) installment. How can I wait a year for book three? I MUST KNOW WHAT HAPPENS.

The Dark Days Pact is my favorite book of 2017 thus far, and I have no doubt whatsoever that it will still be a top favorite when the end of the year rolls around. If you enjoy historical fiction or fantasy, do not miss this series.

Favorite Quote:

“I know you do not recognize it, Mr. Pike, but that is what honor looks like.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

2 responses to “Review: The Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman”

  1. Man, these books sounds right up my alley. I never read Eon either but these… these definitely need to be added to my TBR.
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