Cover Dark Days Pact: Girl in 1800s men's clothing holding a glowing blue sword

About the Book

Title: The Dark Days Pact (Lady Helen #2)
Published: 2017

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

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?

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

Yay BFF Charm

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

Various stages of a seedling growing in dirt

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

Someone whispering in a person's ear

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

Outhouse-like buildings on wheels sitting in the water used in 1800s England to bring women into the ocean.

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.

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 (she/her) is an avid reader who moonlights at a college and calls Orlando home. Stephanie loves watching television, reading DIY blogs, planning awesome parties, Halloween decorating, and playing live-action escape games.