Renee Mihulka – Children's Book Reviews & Writer

Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman


A YA Jane Austen with a fantasy twist. 

lady helen

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Inventive historical fiction from a fabulous Aussie writer. I can’t wait for the next one!

OVERALL: 4.5 4.5 Stars

Concept:5 Stars
Characters:4 Stars
Plot:4 Stars
Writing:4.5 Stars


Alison Goodman
Harper Collins



Lady Helen Wrexhall is 18 years old and about to make her debut at the court of Queen Charlotte and officially step into society. From here it’s marriage and a family. But from that encounter with the Queen Helen finds that she is

As Helen discovers about the Dark Days Club and her inherited Gifts she realises that she needs to make a choice about her future: Duchess or Demon Slayer.

It may take a while to get into the swing of this story. I generally find when reading historical fiction, I need at least a few chapters before I have relaxed into the prose and this book was no different. Add to this the need to develop quite a detailed setting and you may find the beginning few chapters more tedious than you would like. But please, persist! It is well worth it.


I love the concept of this book, a regency novel with a paranormal twist! Awesome. You get the beautiful language and history of a good Regency tale with the unpredictable nature of demons with tentacles. What’s not to like?


For the most part the characters were interesting and well portrayed. I loved Helen and her maid Darby in particular. But I did feel that the male characters weren’t as strong. Her brother and Lord Carlston in particular.

“Helen lifted her face to receive the Royal kiss on her forehead, rose from the curtsey, then gathered up her imaginary train and backed away from the sofa – the most difficult manoeuvre in the whole Court Presentation.”


This book is all about light and dark and although the plot is somewhat predictable, it also throws up enough twists to keep it fresh. What makes it interesting is that Lady Helen has to make a choice, a real choice about her future, which is something Regency ladies didn’t get to do very much. Throughout Helen struggles within the strict confines of how a proper young lady should act and her own nature, a problem which is relevant to all teenagers, not just ones fitted into a corset.


I love me a Regency style novel so I adored the writing!

 The language choice was excellent and the prose a pleasure to read – strong and witty. Goodman really captures the Regency style and the small details sprinkled throughout make it obvious she has done TONS of research.


This book is recommended for kids 14 and over and I think that is perfect.

The themes in this book are conforming to expectations, early love, making life-defining choices, loyalty, dark vs light and friendship. It’s historical elements give it a lot of depth and is a wonderful book for your daughter to get into historical fiction

Things to ask and discuss:

If you haven’t read the book, don’t worry. Ask these questions anyway and coax the answers and details Goodman in regency clothesout. Or just let your child mull it over alone. Don’t worry if they don’t want to talk about some of the things listed here, it’s ok to just let them talk about the bits they want to. Bottom line is, they will love that you are showing an interest and asking for their opinion, even if they don’t always show it

1. Were you surprised by the decisions Helen made?

2. What decisions would you have made differently?3. How have the lives of

3. How have the lives of women changed from the Regency period? What would Darby be like now? What about Helen?Lord Carlston or the Duke of Selburn?

4. Lord Carlston or the Duke of Selburn?



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Book Reviews and Writer