Title: The Dark Days Club
Author: Alison Goodman
Published by: Walker Books
Publication date: 21st January 2016
Genres: YA Fantasy/Historical/Paranormal
Source: Review copy from the publisher.
Have you ever been on a train waiting to leave the station, only for another train to pull in next to yours, blocking your vision? And then there's that awkward moment when the windows of both trains line up so you're suddenly staring at a random stranger on the 11:06 to London while you're going in the opposite direction. When one of the trains starts moving you can't tell if it's yours or theirs, and for a few seconds it's like you're trudging through time, only for it to be their train moving and, when it's gone, you realise you haven't moved at all. This is what reading The Dark Days Club felt like: slow, awkward, and half a book of nothingness where you're not sure if this is actually going anywhere or if this is some kind of trick.
Seriously, when I got to around 200 pages, I thought there must have been a printing error on the back of the book, because what I was reading was not even close to what had been promised. The Dark Days Club was supposed to be full of demons and other supernatural happenings, with an epic romance at its core. But for the first 190ish pages, none of this had even started happening yet, and I was running out of book. The word 'demon' hadn't even been mentioned. Surely it was too late for such a plot to be introduced? I was bored and vaguely confused. I very nearly DNF'd this, and I've only done that a couple of times in my life; the only thing keeping me reading was my intrigue over this plot that hadn't actually made an appearance but would have to at some point for it to be, y'know, a book?
The pacing was hugely inconsistent, and looking at other reviews, I'm not the only one who thinks this. I'd explain that, but I can't even get my head around it because it was so choppy. Not only that, but it felt like Goodman was holding back on her writing. I felt no attachment to the characters, and we were clearly meant to be rooting for Lady Helen and Lord Carlston with their 'epic romance' (nope) but there wasn't much there to care about.
One thing Goodman didn't hold back on, though, was research. A page at the back of the book details the work she did to get the Regency period just right, and I ended up enjoying the historical aspect. That, at least, felt believable. But the rest? It just wasn't for me.
And the ending? Don't get me started. It was so disappointing, and when I woke up the day after finishing The Dark Days Club, I reached for the book so I could finish it only to realise I'd finished it already, just eight hours before. But it lacked substance so much that I'd forgotten.
I was so excited about this book, but I guess I shouldn't have fallen for such a loaded pitch like 'Cassandra Clare meets Jane Austen' because that's an impossibly high standard to live up to and The Dark Days Club didn't even come close.