The Dark Days Deceit by Alison Goodman

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

The Dark Days Deceit by Alison GoodmanThe Dark Days Deceit by Alison Goodman
Series: Lady Helen #3
Published by Viking Juvenile on November 20, 2018
Genres: Historical, Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 527
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
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The thrilling, genre-bending conclusion to Lady Helen's demon-hunting adventures, set in the glittering Regency world.

Lady Helen has retreated to a country estate outside Bath to prepare for her wedding to the Duke of Selburn, yet she knows she has unfinished business to complete. She and the dangerously charismatic Lord Carlston have learned they are a dyad, bonded in blood, and only they are strong enough to defeat the Grand Deceiver, who threatens to throw mankind into chaos. But the heinous death-soaked Ligatus Helen has absorbed is tearing a rift in her mind. Its power, if unleashed, will annihilate both Helen and Carlston unless they can find a way to harness its ghastly force and defeat their enemy.

In the final book of the trilogy that began with THE DARK DAYS CLUB and continued with THE DARK DAYS PACT, the intrepid Lady Helen's story hurtles to a shocking conclusion full of action, heartbreak, and betrayal.

Rereading the first two Lady Helen books to get to the finale was a bit of a trial tbh, for reasons that have a lot more to do with me than the books themselves (though book one is seriously slow albeit good). I’ve not been in the mood for darker reads or particularly for fantasy for a while now, so it was not the most opportune time to decide to finish out Lady Helen. At the same time, though, I didn’t want to wait to close out one of my favorite series. Goodman did largey not disappoint with the fast-paced, twisty, intricate conclusion to the series.

The Lady Helen books are like nothing else I’ve read, if you take into account both subject matter and tone. I could recommend These Vicious Masks if you want a similar setting and type of fantasy or I could recommend Mary Balogh for the old-fashioned detail of the writing, but no one book that combines the two. The series is ambitious in both size and scope. These books are long and a bit ponderous by modern standards, though I do personally really love Goodman’s writing, but I did grow up on Jane Austen.

While except for some key scenes, the Lady Helen series doesn’t tend to be particularly fast-paced if you weigh the individual elements, Goodman does a fantastic job in The Dark Days Pact and The Dark Days Deceit creating an illusion of forward motion and keeping the intensity up, even if, as is often the case, the characters are mostly spinning their wheels as they try to figure out what the fuck to do. I almost read this book in one day. I would have except for the aforementioned longness and all the Game of Thrones I watched. Still, reading most of this on one day speaks to my enjoyment level. It’s hard to keep a brain focused and entertained through that many words.

One of my favorite aspects to the series and to Lady Helen’s character is the tension she feels between being a lady and being a Reclaimer, and that’s ever stronger in the final installment. Now engaged to the Duke, she’s torn between her two sets of responsibilities, and she struggles to decide what her future could and should be after the Grand Deceiver is defeated, should they succeed. I’ve always liked that Helen enjoyed society and wanted to be a part of it. One of the most endearing scenes for her character imo is when she has her hair cut into a boyish style in book two and cries for the loss of her best feature. Helen’s stronger than a man and fights dark creatures, but she does truly wish to marry and have children, a desire at war with her wish to save people.

Obviously Helen’s also torn between the Duke of Selburn and Lord Carlston. She’s accidentally engaged to the former, but she’s bonded in reclaiming to Carlston. In fact, he confessed his feelings in the prior book, but he’s still technically married (his wife is presumed dead but maybe not?!?!) so that’s all awkward. Though all of this takes up a lot of space in Helen’s head, I love how focused she always is on the bigger picture. The men around her would believe her weak, but she makes choices with her head not her heart time after time, unlike Pike, for example. There’s a stoicism to Helen, and it’s those small moments where she actually breaks down that will rip your heart out, because she generally stays strong for those around her and doesn’t let that show.

The plot’s incredibly intricate, and it’s cool how it all plays out, though I do have some mixed feelings on some of it. I did end up predicting the big reveals, though I didn’t predict every element that made them up. The story definitely works, and I loved the moments where you realize the way moments from previous books indicated what was going on, because, though I’d put things together, I hadn’t noticed those bits of evidence, and I love seeing all the layers in a story. That said, I’m a bit iffy on View Spoiler »

I cannot wait to see what Goodman does next with her glorious imagination and talent for intricacy. This is one of my favorite series, regardless of my handful of quibbles, and I’m overall quite happy with this series ender.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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