Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Length: 496 pages
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Release Date: January 26, 2016
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Lady Helen series
Source: ARC from Amazon Vine
Rating: 4/5 stars
I got a copy of this book through the Amazon Vine program to review. Previous to this I had read Goodman’s Eon Dragoneye series and enjoyed it (loved the first book, the second was just okay). I ended up really enjoying this first book in the Lady Helen series…although it’s a bit slow in the beginning. Right now it looks like this is planned to be a trilogy.
When we meet Lady Helen Wrexhall it is on the eve of her debut to presentation to the Queen. Helen’s life has been overshadowed by the fact that her mother was a traitor to the Crown and she is really hoping the Queen doesn’t remember this fact. However, contrary to expectation the Queen delivers a strange and confusing message to Helen about her mother during her presentation.
Right around this time one of Lady Helen’s household maids disappears and Lady Helen herself starts to develop strange abilities. Then Helen meets the dark and shunned Lord Carlston who shows her some of the dark and demonic secrets haunting the streets of Regency era London. Despite her best efforts Helen starts finding herself drawn deep into the dark secrets of not-quite-human London.
I enjoyed this book, my only complaint with it is that the story moves very slowly in the beginning. This whole story is set in the Regency Era and I love reading about this time period. I also enjoyed the main character a lot; Helen is an excellent blend of proper Victorian lady with some pluck. She is constantly struggling to rein in her more rebellious and adventurous urges and this was an interesting struggle to watch.
There are a couple male leads as well. They are both decently done and of course involved in a love triangle with Helen (that was pretty typical for this type of book). Our main heroine is torn between a noble Duke (Duke of Selburn) who fits into her current life perfectly and a roughish lord (Lord Carlston) who is drawing her into the dark paranormal underbelly of the city. She must choose whether to forsake her new powers and try to cling to her old life or move down a new and dangerous path.
The paranormal aspects to this novel are intriguing. I liked the idea of the Deceivers (with their demon-like qualities) and the Reclaimers (with their noble ideals yet tortured lot in life). I am not going to say much about these two since much of the book is dedicated to revealing their existence and abilities.
Overall I thought the story was intriguing and interesting. It has that whole Victorian era/paranormal vibe to it. The story reminded me a lot of the Gardella Vampire Chronicles by Colleen Gleason; it definitely has a similar feel. While the premise of the story isn’t all that new and creative it did have some good twists. Also this is a type of story I really enjoy reading, so I ended up really enjoying it quite a bit. I would recommend to those who enjoy blends of Victorian and paranormal elements; just be aware that the story starts out very slowly.