When I first heard about The Dark Days Club at a blogger event, I will openly admit that it wasn't something that really captured my attention, I don't tend to read historical fiction and I do avoid this genre. But as soon as I heard Alison reading from her book I was not only interested, but I also needed to know more. Going into The Dark Days Club I knew I was going to struggle, I was pushing my boundaries and venturing into new territory, and looking back at my reading progress it did take me a long time to get though this mammoth of a book.
Lady Helen, lives with Aunt and Uncle, her Mum, a known traitor to the queen, lost her life with her husband leaving Lady Helen in her relatives hands. The only remainder Lady Helen has of her parents is a miniature, a picture of both parents in a frame. But this miniature holds a secret, and it's not until she meets Lord Carlston that she learns about this secret, and her ancestry
Lady Helen is a Reclaimer, part of a very elite group who have the ability to see auras, and Deceivers. Once they come into their powers they have immeasurable strength and speed, and are able to calculate the paths of anything and see what will happen next, for example a runaway horse. Lady Helen is able to see what path the horse will take, know it's movements and be able to get to it in time to halt its progress, if it were proper for a lady of her statues to do such a thing. Deceivers hide in body of human hosts, killing and reproducing where possible. They move from body to body, blood relation to blood relation, in order to continue with their existence, it is The Dark Days Club's responsibility to eliminate the Deceivers.
The Dark Days Club was definitely a book that tested my limits. It took me a while to really get into this one, I wanted the demon fighting to immediate and what happened instead was an introduction to Lady Helen's world, how she lives, what expectations others have of her, and an introduction to her soon to be new life. Looking back, I think that this introduction worked really well, and it saved having to constantly revisit the past to understand the present. Once the introductions were out of the way I did find myself getting engrossed in the story, wondering what training Lady Helen would do next, or what new ability would she discover she had. I really liked seeing the Reclaimer side to her, seeing her strong and fast, and able to kick some ass.
I did get frustrated with the formality and proper etiquette with this time period, and I was happy to see that Lady Helen occasionally felt the same way. Living how we do now, it was hard for me to read what she could and couldn't do, and how she is punished for not acting like a proper lady. I was honestly relieved with the events towards the end of the book, I felt like Lady Helen could finally breathe a little. I liked seeing this club fight, and although there are a few issues with secrets and full truths, I am really interested in seeing where it takes Lady Helen next.
The Dark Days Club was an interesting read for me, although it took a while for me to get into it, I did find myself enjoying it once the demon slaying began. The book ends with us wanting to know what Lady Helen will do next, and I am looking forward to seeing what this new venture holds in store for her.
Q and A with Alison Goodman
1. This isn't really a question, but for those who are new to your book, can you tell us a little about yourself.
I’m Australian and live in Melbourne with my husband and my Jack Russell Terrier, Xander. I call him my demon in a dog suit. I write full-time now, but I used to teach creative writing at a university. As part of my research for The Dark Days Club, I learned how to Regency dance and I loved it so much that it is now my hobby! I also love reading (of course), on-line clothes shopping, going to see movies (particularly the Marvel movies), and hanging out with my friends.
2. Your previous books, Eon and Eona, lean more towards fantasy, whilst The Dark Days Clubs leans more towards historical fiction with a demonic twist. Which was most fun to write in terms of characters and worlds?
That’s a tough one. All of them had their delights and their challenges. I loved creating the energy dragons and the Imperial Palace with all its etiquettes in Eon and Eona. The character of Eona, herself, was enormous fun to write – she is so resourceful and staunch and I love writing the female disguised as male type of story. Then again, I really enjoyed the intense historical research I did for The Dark Days Club, and working out ways to blend real historical events into my fictional world. I loved creating Lady Helen too. She is clever and fair-minded, and has a sharp wit. Writing the banter between her and Lord Carlston was a hoot. I really enjoyed recreating Regency London as well. So I suppose it’s a draw – I loved writing them all!
3. You recently paid a visit to Walker Books HQ for a blogger event, how did you feel having to stand up in front of us all and pitch your book, The Dark Days Club, to us?
I always have some nerves when I speak in public, but not like I used to before I started teaching. I used to be a mess for three days before I gave a class—standing up in front of people and lecturing was my nightmare. In the end, however, I realized that my nerves were making everyone else uneasy and getting in the way of what I had to say. I decided to get over it and just enjoy myself. I’m not completely without nerves when I speak in public now, but they are just enough to keep me on my toes. I remember on the day of the Blogger event I had an awful cold, so my main worry was that I didn’t sneeze and cough over everyone!
4. From the blogger event we got to hear more about The Dark Days Club. Can you share with my readers your inspiration behind this book?
I actually got the idea for the series on a tram in Melbourne. I was coming home from a writers’ conference where I had attended a session on “Researching the Regency”. I have always loved the Regency era – I’m a big fan of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer – but I had it fixed in my mind that the research would be a bit out of my league. However, the session had made me realize that I could, in fact, do it. So, with that revelation buzzing through me, I got on the tram, stared out of the window and started to think about the kind of Regency novel that I would like to read now. The answer came very quickly and clearly: Georgette Heyer goes demon hunting; Pride and Prejudice meets Buffy! I grabbed a pen and paper and started writing. By the time the tram got to my stop, I had the outline of The Dark Days Club.
5. Last but not least, who were/are your favourite authors, either growing up, present day, or both?
When I was growing up, some of my favourite authors were L.M. Montgomery (particularly the Anne series), Georgette Heyer, Anne McCaffrey, Jane Austen, Roberta Gellis, Robert Ludlum (the Bourne series), and S.E. Hinton. Present day authors include Garth Nix, Diana Gabaldon, Ben Aaronovitch, and Lincoln Preston.