Sunday, 16 June 2019

Regency Romance meets the Paranormal: A perfect match when written by Alison Goodman.

Attending the IPed (Institution of Professional Editors) Conference last month in Melbourne, was a wonderful opportunity to meet fellow editors, writers, and publishers.

There were many amazing guest speakers attending, including the fabulous Alison Goodman - Author of the highly successful Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club Series.

Although I was familiar with the author and her books, I had not had a chance to read them. Luckily, I was able to purchase the series at the conference. For the next two weeks, I was caught up in a world of Regency romance  meets paranormal activity in an historical fiction fantasy adventure.

Having devoured Georgette Heyer and Barbara Cartland novels in my early teenage years, I have an appreciation for the world of Debutante Heroines, brooding dark-eyed heroes,  and malevolent Earls, Dukes and Duchesses.

In the first book of the series, Lady Helen and The Dark Days Club 18 year old debutante Lady Helen Wrexhall, prepares to be properly presented to the Royal Court in 1812.  As she practises her curtsies, undergoes endless gown fittings, and endures stern lectures on propriety from her dear Aunt, she has little notion that she will be unwillingly drawn into a shadowy world of missing housemaids and demonic conspiracies.

Impeccably  dressed and faultlessly polite, our heroine takes the discovery of a shocking truth about her mother and subsequent introduction to her own, inherited supernatural powers, with aplomb. The anti-hero of the story, Lord Carlston, is cynical, fabulously rich and handsome. He is appallingly rude to everyone, and is believed to have murdered his wife, although her body has never been found.

He is also a card carrying Member of The Dark Days Club.  The Club, mysterious and invite-only, is endorsed by the King and Queen of England. The Club is comprised of people such as His Lordship, who have Reclaimer powers. Supernatural powers allow Reclaimers to fight the evil Deceivers: demonic life forms inhabiting humans, feeding off their energies. Lady Helen has inherited Reclaimer Powers from her mother. Unbeknownst to Lady Helen, a tiny portrait of her mother instigates a train of events leading her to discovering her untrained  Reclaimer powers.
A loyal servant, a cruel Uncle, a weak-willed brother and a scandal involving a dear friend of Lady Helen's, are all woven into the fabric of this rollicking Regency adventure.

There are plenty of blood-curdling assassinations, and dangers lurk in alley-ways, unassuming servants and especially amongst the society creme de la creme in which Lady Helen mingles.

Alison Goodman has clearly enjoyed writing the Dark Days Club series. The first book sets up the main plot and introduces several subplots. The characters are strongly developed and we get a real sense of the time period and setting which is vitally important to the ongoing theme. Alison's research has been thorough and this shows in the consistency of the period in which the story takes place.  The diabolical elements of the story, coupled with the wonderful old institution of British polite society, and enhanced with excellent fight scenes and gruesome murders, turns what could be just an enjoyable Regency Romance into an action-packed story that wouldn't be out of place in a Doctor Who story-line.

I give it five snuff boxes.

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