Review: The Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman

 

The Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman (Lady Helen #2)

Genre: Historical Fantasy, YA

Publisher: Walker Books on January 26, 2017

Source: Library

June 1812. Just weeks after her catastrophic coming-out ball…

  

 Sometimes I like to take a break from reading and reviewing historical fantasy in an effort to stave off over-saturation or boredom with the genre, but then I’ll read something like THE DARK DAYS PACT and I’m sucked right back in again. Historical fantasy, I can’t quit you! Alison Goodman has outdone herself with this book, which is filled with magic, manners, and the ill use of both. If you’re a fan of historical fiction or historical fantasy, do yourself a favour and give this series a go.

After the events of the first book, Lady Helen has gone to spend the summer in Bath with the Hammonds, ostensibly for her health. But in reality, she’s begun her Reclaimer training in earnest: she practices sensing the demons known as Deceivers, hand-to-hand combat, and even masquerades as a man. If the society ladies were to catch wind of it all, Helen would be ruined forever…which makes the continued presence of the notorious Lord Carlston something of a problem. Because where Carlston goes, rumours, gossip, and intrigue will eventually follow. The powerful Reclaimer, Helen’s mentor, and suspected murderer figures prominently in this story, so your mileage will most likely vary depending upon how you feel about him as a character. While he’s not my favourite romantic hero, he’s unquestionably a good fit for Helen;seeing the two of them work together towards a common goal while trying to resist their inappropriate attraction was delicious.

As if all that tension weren’t enough, Helen must go into society in her male disguise to hunt down Deceivers in the lowest of places to find a cure for Carlston’s growing madness, a side effect of Reclaiming the darkness from the demons he fights. It was fascinating seeing these places through Helen’s eyes, as they’re the kinds of establishments that a gently bred lady shouldn’t even be aware of, yet alone visit unchaperoned. While she has the morals of any noble, Christian, Regency era woman, Helen is certainly more openminded and forgiving than most, but her shock at certain activities was pretty fun to see. If only you knew, girl! Thankfully Helen has a good head on her shoulders and her powerful abilities as a Reclaimer to help see her through…if only they would work the way everyone tells her they should.

If I had to describe THE DARK DAYS PACT in one word, it would be “more.” This book has more action, more intrigue, more danger, and certainly more drama than the series debut, and I loved every second of it. Despite its hefty size, I breezed through this one with my girl Becky in only a few sittings because I was desperate to know what happened next. I only have one quibble about this book, which is the prominence of one Duke Selburn. He is the worst sort of Nice Guy character: someone who thinks he knows best for everyone else simply because he’s a man and a Duke besides. He doesn’t listen to Helen, he tries to manipulate her, and he clearly does not share her agenda, and yet he claims to care for her. Um, okay buddy. We’ll see about that in book three.

Sure, there are some slightly cheesy moments in this story (why is literally everyone in love with Carlston?) and Helen is a bit of a special snowflake, but Goodman’s top notch writing paired with a twisty plot and characters to die for more than makes up for that. Take season one Buffy and give her the morals of an upper class woman from the Regency era and you have Lady Helen Wrexhall. And if that doesn’t convince you to read this series, then nothing will!

Have you read THE DARK DAYS PACT? What is your “I can’t quit you!” genre that you always go back to? Let me know in the comments!

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  • This does look good, even if she is speshul at times

  • I was totally intimidated by the size of the first book, that I gently put it aside and didn’t go back to it. Sounds like even though she is speshul Goodman has a handle on her and how to make this world work.

    • HA! Honestly so was I, even after I’d started reading it because it was a rather slow start. But it really picks up and this sequel was incredible! Goodman is definitely a talented writer. 🙂

  • I read the book this week as well and struggled a bit with how the plot developed. But i hope that some things will change in the third book.

    Happy Reading!

    • Did you have a hard time with the ending? Because Becky and I were both raging over how that played out, haha. There’s not a doubt in my mind that the ending of this book will be rectified in the series finale!

      Thanks Sabrina, you too!

  • Greg Hill

    I like a good historical fantasy with supernatural elements! This sounds really good, and I love the idea of her going into places of ill repute lol and disguised as a man. I can see that being fun! A twisty plot and great characters too. I love how there’s always someone like Carlston, the swoony guy with the slightly rakish reputation- that sounds very familiar, but an occasional trope like that isn’t bad if the rest of it is awesome. Nice review!!

    • Who doesn’t, honestly? 😀 This series actually reminds me a bit of your description of the Stranje House books, which I definitely need to read soon. People cross-dressing in public to get away with shenanigans is one of my favourite tropes. Honestly I can take or leave Carlston, but I know what you mean – a trope-y or archetypical character doesn’t bother me so long as they’re well done!

      Thanks Greg! 🙂

  • YAY! I’m glad you enjoyed this book, Danya! I think everyone (myself included) is so in love with Carleston because he is the swoony equivalent of an HR hero, in YA. Also Selburn is just slimy and I am 100% sure he is something evil (even if he is not THE evil). In any case, I adored this book! That ending though. :/ I hope Goodman will be putting out a Jan. 2018 conclusion because I don’t think I’d be able to wait much longer!

    Great review, Danya! Have a fantastic weekend. =)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    • I loved it! Can’t wait for book 3, I’m dying to get my hands on it honestly. 2018 is so far away! Oh wow, good point! Carleston is an awful lot like a typical HR hero. I’m think Selburn is just gonna be the “moralistic evil” who works against Helen’s wishes and those of her friends, like Mr. Hammond. Selburn is clearly a bigot and he treats others like trash…I look forward to his comeuppance. LOL!

      Thanks Alyssa! You too. 🙂

  • I haven’t tried this series but I totally get those “I can’t quit you genres”! I always go back to classic high fantasy novels with swords and dragons. 😀

    • Hahaha, the classic swords and dragons stories are old standbys for me too. “Can’t quit you” genres like those are always comforting. 🙂

  • I haven’t read the Dark Days Club yet but it’s on my TBR! Honestly, all of Alison Goodman’s books are on my TBR, I need to fix that. haha I love historical fantasy books but it’s honestly been a long time since I’ve read one!

    • Hooray! This is the fourth Goodman book I’ve read and I’ve really liked all of them. Whether it’s epic or historical fantasy, she knows how to craft a great world. Ooooh Bonnie, it’s time to get back into the land of historical fantasy! 😀

  • Hmm, this almost sounds a bit like the Gardella Vampire Hunters series, but without the vampires. I may have to check this out! And it does sound like seeing her perspective in those situations would be fun lol.

    • I’m having the reverse reaction, which is “hmmm…Lady Helen plus vampires, I gotta read that!” Hahaha. Oh yeah, Helen’s take on various scandalous things was really fun. There may have been some lighthearted pearl-clutching involved. 😉

  • OK I’m sold! These two books are being read in the summer for sure. I love it when a sequel expands on all the elements of the first book. That’s a sign of a great sequel and an excellent author. I’m happy to hear both you and Becky enjoyed this one! 🙂

    • YES!!!!!! I am so stoked about this! As much as I enjoyed the first book, this one was a TOTAL game changer and a major step up from the series debut. Becky and I were *dying* as we were reading, I can’t wait until we can dish about this series with you! 😀

  • Karen

    I usually struggle with historical fantasy but this sounds fun.

    For What It’s Worth

    • Historical fantasy is my jam, but I gotta say that I think these books would appeal to people who aren’t usually that into it. 🙂

  • Yay for more intrigue and more danger! I really enjoyed the first one and I did start this but put it down for some reason and haven’t gotten back to it. But it obviously sounds like I need to fix that ASAP because this sounds awesome! I can see Duke Selburn annoying me and why not love Carleton, haha. Glad you enjoyed this so much, Danya! Awesome review!

    • Couldn’t agree more, everything about this was yay. If you liked the first book you’ll definitely like this one, I’m sure of it! HA. There’s so much Carlston love going around! He’s certainly heaps better than Selburn, who’s a bit of a prick in this one honestly. Can’t wait to hear what you think of TDDP, Cyn! 🙂

  • I think I was in the wrong mindset, I thought this one dragged more than Dark Days Club and still haven’t finished it. Maybe I’ll get to it this summer!

    • Oh no, bummer! Hopefully the re-read is more enjoyable for you than it was the first time around, Amber.

  • Yes to all the things you said. This book was fab and the Duke should just go jump off a cliff. I feel like I want him to be the bad guy just to help fully justify my complete loathing of him. My abhorrence of his entire person is a little extreme when really he’s just one of those nice guy dickheads who would happily mansplain something to you and think he was doing you a favour.

    I loved this far more than the first, though. I think it was totally just more than the first but only because the first did build a solid story foundation even if it did take it’s sweet time about it. I have to be honest and say I was nervous because I really enjoyed Goodman’s Eon duology until I finished the second books and then I was all kinds of nope about it. I hoped the same wouldn’t happen with this one and it didn’t so thank god! I seriously need the next book in my life but I probably need the time it’ll take to be published to let my rage over Selburn burn off a little.

    • THE DUKE! I am still not over how much of a twat he was in this book. WHY does everyone let him get away with it? Stupid elevated noble status. *grumbles* OMG you’re so right, Selburn would 100% begin a series of tweet replies to women on with “well, actually…”

      Couldn’t agree more, I thought this one was much stronger than the first. Instead of taking the time to develop the core cast of characters and the world it was able to dive right into the action. I’ve read the first book in the Eon duology but I don’t think I actually ever finished the series…I guess I won’t worry about it now! So far as the third book goes, I’ve *got* to believe that Selburn will get what he deserves in the end.

  • This is a series that I really want to start and I actually have the first book sitting waiting for me! I guess it just depends on my reading schedule this year but even if I don’t fit it in perhaps I’ll be able to pick up the third next year to binge read!

    Oh my poor TBR…

    • Hooray! I can’t wait to hear your take on this series Di…although knowing you and your massive back pile of books, I may have to wait a while. Hahaha. Sounds like the perfect option for a series binge read next year!

      *weeps for your TBR pile*

  • I’ve heard great things about the Dark Days Pact but haven’t been able to check it out yet!! Your review of this sequel has piqued my interest though! Tori @ In Tori Lex

    • It’s a really fun series, the perfect example of a YA historical fantasy! If you like Regency era stories and demon hunting then I think you’ll like this one, Tori. 🙂

  • Lynn Williams

    I definitely can’t quit historical fantasy – it’s just too moorish and this series sounds excellent.
    Lynn 😀

    • YES! The moors get me every dang time, haha. This series is a ton of fun, highly recommend it when you’re in the mood for a YA historical fantasy story.

  • This is a really fantastic series- glad you are enjoying it too! I think I maybe enjoyed book one a smidge more than this one – I think I really liked when Helen was in the situation of coming to realize she had a destiny and responsibility but feeling really conflicted about it and having to hide all the weirdness. But this was a good shift into the “next phase”. And I am as baffled as you at Lord Carlston’s irresistability – he ain’t all that. I am I think more intrigued by the Duke of Selburn than you are – oh sure his shenanigans at the end are eye-rolling but I do find it interesting that he has continue to stand by her despite how far she differs from the Regency era norm of lady-ness. It makes me suspicious of him, lol!

    P.S. The cover of the above edition is one I’ve not seen and it’s gorgeous!