Angus & Robertson,
Reviewer: Kate Russell
London, April 1812. On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap?
Review by Kate Russell
This is the first book in a new series by Alison Goodman, and it’s a wonderful cocktail of Regency romance and supernatural suspense.
Set in London in 1812, the story opens with eighteen‑year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall preparing for her presentation to Queen Charlotte. She and her brother, Andrew, have been raised by their aunt and uncle since their parents drowned at sea ten years before. Helen doesn’t really remember much about her mother – Lady Catherine, Countess of Hayden – but she’s been brought up surrounded by rumours that the Countess was wild and reckless, and that she may even have committed treason.
As if this wasn’t enough to deal with, in the past few months, Helen has felt a strange restlessness – could it be her mother’s “bad blood” making itself felt? Not to mention the fact that her close friend, Delia, has been involved in a scandal that has all of society talking.
Then, one of the housemaids, Berta, goes missing. Berta’s disappearance coincides with the return to London of Lord Carlston, a man suspected of killing his wife. Lord Carlston, much to her aunt’s horror, takes an unusual interest in Helen, and despite herself, Helen is also drawn to him.
But Lord Carlston is more than he seems. He’s a Reclaimer. Beneath the layers of polite society, a secret battle between good and evil is being waged, and he is one of the good guys. With the help of other members of the Dark Days Club, he fights Deceivers, demonic beings who inhabit human bodies and feed on human emotions and energies. And Helen is a Reclaimer too, inheriting the “gift” from her mother, the Countess.
Will Helen choose the life that is expected of her, with marriage to a wealthy husband and the safety and security that brings? Or will she embrace her destiny as a Reclaimer, spending her life battling Deceivers at great risk to herself?
I really enjoyed this book. There was a lot of fascinating historical detail and it was fun to “meet” real people from the period, such as Lord Byron and the Prince Regent. The constraints placed on young women of the period added an extra level of difficulty to Lady Helen’s attempts to keep her supernatural adventures secret, and as for Lord Carlston – well, he’s like Mr Darcy with superpowers. What’s not to love? Danger, betrayals, a murder or two, a touch of romance and sexual tension and some really sinister baddies – it was great fun. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.