London, April 1812. Lady Helen Wrexhall is set to make her debut at the court of Queen Charlotte and officially step into polite Regency society and the marriage mart. Little does Helen know that step will take her from the opulent drawing rooms of Mayfair and the bright lights of Vauxhall Gardens into a shadowy world of missing housemaids and demonic conspiracies.
Standing between those two worlds is Lord Carlston, a man of ruined reputation and brusque manners. He believes Helen has a destiny beyond the ballroom; a sacred and secret duty. Helen is not so sure, especially when she discovers that nothing around her is quite as it seems, including the enigmatic Lord Carlston.
I received both an uncorrected proof and a finished copy from the publishers in exchange for an honest review and I am very grateful; thank you so much Harper Collins Australia!
Setting. Historical fiction is my favourite genre so I loved the Regency London setting of this book! I’ve never been to London, but the setting seemed so realistic and described in a way that I could imagine myself there, strolling through Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, waiting anxiously in the royal palace to be presented to Her Majesty, or being driven in a hackney carriage through the streets of London alongside Lady Helen. Also, the supernatural world building and the rules of the Dark Days Club are on point! It reminds me of the Shadowhunters world in Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices.
Characters. Perfectly realist and relatable despite the time difference! I loved having a strong female protagonist who can take care of herself in such a patriarchal society. I missed having family relationship explored as the protagonist’s family are either (NO SPOILER) dead or distant. However, this is made up for with great friendships, some even transcending the upstairs-downstairs divide. I must say that there is a love triangle, but it has a purpose and this really helps to drive the plot—compared to some books that seem to have love triangles simply to torcher the reader, if you know what I mean.
Plot. I love that characters had everyday issues and problems to deal with as well as the supernatural aspects and that the domestic issues aren’t belittled next to the mystery and monsters; all the problems are equally important. The book was a little slow to start, but it will be the perfect introduction to the trilogy and the rest of the book certainly wasn’t lacking in action! I enjoyed discovering secrets and solving mysteries along with Helen.
Writing. I really enjoyed Alison Goodman’s writing style and I appreciate her attempt to use authentic language of the time period of the book’s setting. Like all great historical fiction authors, Goodman has found that perfect balance of using authentic language with modern writing styles to create an amazing YA novel!
I can’t wait for the sequel (luckily it appears that there will be one book released each year from 2016)!
Recommended to: Fans of The Infernal Devices and Jane Austen addicts
Please Note: all opinions are mine and are not endorsed with any company or organization.