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I Fell On Black Days

In The Dark Days Pact, Lady Helen returns to find that even when one is spending their summer at the beach, dastardly and devious plots lurk just beneath the waves.

I Fell On Black Days

BOOK REPORT for The Dark Days Pact (Lady Helen #2) by Alison Goodman

Careful, Sweetie: spoilers! This is the second book in the Lady Helen series, so if you haven’t read the previous one, you should probably hop back in the TARDIS and go curl up with the first book in the library by the pool before continuing.

Cover Story: Is That You, Sting?
BFF Charm: Yay
Swoonworthy Scale: 7
Talky Talk: Man, The Girl is Non-stop
Bonus Factors: Character Growth, Intrigue and Secrets, Bathing Machines
Relationship Status: Let Me Aid You

Cover Story: Is That You, Sting?

My husband took one look at this cover and asked if the girl was about to go fight some Orcs. I then tried to explain the Deceivers and their feeder tentacles drinking people’s blue life forces…and basically, people’s eyes will glaze over when you say “feeder tentacles”, unless they’ve actually read the book (which they should, because, review spoiler alert, it’s awesome).

I like that Helen is in her manly get-up, since it’s a big part of the story, and looking like she’s ready to kick some demon butt, though she would not have that braid as she’s supposed to be actually passing as a man.

The Deal:

When we last saw Lady Helen, she was leaving London to spend the summer in beachy Brighton with Margaret and Hammond to further her training. After a month spending her days with Carlston learning to walk and talk like a man and refining her fighting techniques, Helen imagines the summer will continue in much the same, quiet way, giving her the time needed to fully understand what it means to join the Dark Days Club.

But events heat up quickly when newcomers arrive to the seashore: government toady, Pike, showing up to issue secretive orders; the Duke of Selburn reappearing, undeterred by Helen’s letter of rebuff and determined to win her over to be his wife; and her disgraced friend, Delia, arriving unannounced, demanding the truth Helen offered about her scandal.

Now Helen can’t keep her lies—or her friends and enemies—straight. And what worries her the most is Lord Carlston. After years of reclaiming the darkness in innocent Deceiver progeny, she’s afraid Carlston has gone too far and blackened his own soul beyond repair, culminating in recent bouts of madness. Helen also can’t deny the feelings she has for him…but one of the prime directives of the Dark Day’s oath is duty to God and country above all else, even love.

BFF Charm: Yay

Helen is grappling with some tough adult choices in this book. She’s still the same smart, loyal, and wry girl we met in The Dark Day’s Club, but she’s been tempered—some would say burdened—with knowledge. Her loyalties are being tested, her honor stretched thin, and basically, she’s having one seriously shitty month.

I’d still gladly give Lady Helen my BFF charm, despite the strain she’s feeling, because I think she needs someone outside of her life who can listen with a sympathetic ear, and I need someone who can vet my dancing partners so I don’t accidentally get my life-force sucked dry. 

Swoonworthy Scale: 7

Remember those tortured looks from the first book, “tortured” being the operative word? Well, that’s still there, intensified, since Lady Helen and Lord Carlston have only been spending even more time together, and sometimes, Lud help us, unchaperoned. There are so many reasons why they shouldn’t be together, and it all starts to feel a little tragic. But isn’t that when we want it to happen the most? 

Talky Talk: Man, the Girl is Non-stop

Take a deep breath before you dive into this book, because there will not be many chances to take a breather once the plot gets going. I thought the first book had a lot going on, but now that Goodman has established the rules and setting she does not let up. This is a hefty book, but the story moves along deftly and quickly while still maintaining solid plot and character arcs. Even while Goodman was juggling so many storylines, I never felt lost or confused once.

Girlfriend is also not afraid to get dark this time around. The stakes are high, tough decisions have to be made, and people are most assuredly getting hurt.

Bonus Factor: Character Growth

Helen and Hammond end up being forced to share certain secrets and, in the process, become better friends. One plus about a continuing series is that smaller characters from earlier books can get more time in the spotlight.

Bonus Factor: Intrigue and Secrets

Goodman quotes “Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive” during the novel, and its obvious this line was on her mind the entire time she was writing, because there were so many twists and turns. Everyone is lying for different reasons, and some secrets are more damaging than others. This book had me talking out loud to the characters every time they dug themselves deeper into their mess (what, you don’t do that?), so it’s safe to say I was all in on this ish.

Bonus Factor: Bathing Machines

I mentioned in my last review how Alison’s attention to historical accuracy was much appreciated. In this book, she has a whole scene set around something called a “bathing machine”. It is a little closet-type box on wheels where you could change into your swimsuit and then horses drag you and the box into the ocean. A "dipper" would then help you into the waves and keep you from drowning while you splashed about for “healing” purposes. This was completely fascinating, and I can’t believe there wasn’t a whole section on crazy outdated contraptions in middle-school History.

Casting Call:

I cast Lady Helen and Lord Carlston in a previous report here.

Jessica Chastain as Lady Margaret

I was thinking of Ms. Chastain during her turn as the jealous, crazy sister in Crimson Peak.

Eddie Redmayne as Hammond

Hammond is, at his heart, a good person, who needs a bit more backbone. I think Eddie could pull off his shy but courageous attitude.

Freddie Stroma as the Duke of Selburn

I feel like I’m typecasting Freddie in the adorable but pompous, slightly jerky aristocrat…but if the shoe fits…

Skyler Samuels as Delia

As a disgraced lady of the ton, Delia bounces back admirably once she feels like she fits in somewhere. Sweet but sneaky, Skyler has the delicate features but the devilish expression that Delia needs.

Ryan Tongia as Quinn

Darby deserves a hot, hot Quinn.

Cillian Murphy as Pike

Pike is described as tall and skinny with a harsh, long face. We know Cillian can do creepy and overbearing.

Simon Baker as Stokes

Stokes is the only other Reclaimer we meet so far, and he sounds like a handsome rascal.

Relationship Status: Let Me Aid You

You’ve shown me some fantastical things, Book, and now I’m too far gone to just go back to my normal life. If you’ll let me be one of your aides, I promise I’ll do whatever I can to keep you in the know and keep you safe.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Penguin Young Readers. I received neither money nor peanut butter cups in exchange for this review. The Dark Days Pact is available now.

Stephanie Johnston's photo About the Author: Stephanie is an avid reader who moonlights as a college Educational Advisor. Though she now calls Orlando home, she grew up all over the U.S. Aside from her obsession with YA books and book-related activities, Stephanie loves watching way too much television, reading organizational/DIY blogs, planning awesome parties, Halloween decorating, and playing live-action escape games.