Reviewed by: Beth
Rating (out of 5): 4 stars
Lady Helen is back, just four weeks after the events of her presentation ball, events which culminated in her losing her mother’s only gift to her, saving a man’s life, and needing to find refuge outside of London. As The Dark Days Pact opens, Lady Helen is in Brighton and learning how to battle the monsters she now knows exist. Unfortunately, Lord Carlston seems to be battling demons of his own, and it isn’t long before Helen realizes that he is perilously close to losing his sanity. The big question is, as Helen tries to help him, steal back a book written in blood, and become the Reclaimer everyone wants her to be—should she follow her heart? Or her head?
This is the second book in the Lady Helen series, and in it we find her learning more about her powers, as well as more about herself. Many of the characters from the first book are back, including Lord Carlston and Lord Hammond. There’s a distinct romantic triangle involved between Helen, Lord Carlston, and Lord Hammond (whom she was engaged to in the first book). While the ending shows a specific trajectory regarding this love triangle, it will be interesting to see exactly how this ends up playing out in book three. There are, of course, several new characters to grace us with their presence as well, and they all are just as well written as those from the first book. My personal favorite was Sprat, though Martha Gunn (who is an actual historical figure) made a very brief but memorable appearance.
The setting—Brighton, England—came across as true-to-life, and it is obvious that Goodman did quite a bit of research on the area and the people who would have populated it then. Even some of the architecture is mentioned, which builds a truly fabulous picture for the reader.
The best part, of course, is the interweaving of actual history with that of fiction. There is no gap, it all fits together seamlessly. And as before, Goodman shares in the back of the book more about some of the historical content within the story. She also includes a link to be able to view more of her research online, which for anyone who loves the historical aspect, is definitely a bonus.
The only negative for me was that it felt like Lady Helen spent an awful lot of time in limbo. Much of it fits, but…it seemed to drag on in places. However, the book itself ended on a spectacular note (no spoilers!), which will definitely leave the reader wondering if circumstances will remain the same in book three. While the story did feel like it moved a bit slower than it could have at times, it still had a definite arc that demonstrated how Helen grows—both in character, and in abilities. It also left the reader with quite a bit more information regarding the mysterious Grand Deceiver, and to the must-be-imminent showdown over the souls of humanity.
The Dark Days Pact is a worthy successor to the first book, and I am certainly looking forward to the next one. Lady Helen battles not just monsters, but society and expectations as well, and sometimes it’s hard to answer which one is actually the worst of the lot. In some ways, not much has changed, has it?
Sexual content: none