Series: Lady Helen #1
Publication Date: January 26, 2016
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 496 (ARC)
Source: From Publisher For Review
New York Times bestseller Alison Goodman’s eagerly awaited new project: a Regency adventure starring a stylish and intrepid demon-hunter!
London, April 1812. On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap?
This was one of my most anticipated books of 2016, and I am happy to report it did not disappoint. While it is not absolute perfection, it has satisfied my long hunger for a new Alison Goodman YA.
Going into this book, I was very worried about it because it is vastly different from her stupendous breakouts of EON and EONA, but it is full of Goodman's signature fantastical flair and meticulous world-building. As the author's note at the end of the novel dictates, Goodman stayed true to many of the events and people of nobility found in 19th century Regency London while incorporating her own mythology into it.
And let me tell you, this mythology is grand! Discovering what exactly is afoot in London and how Lady Helen plays into it is part of the exploration of this novel, but I will say I have never stumbled across such a display of imagination. Goodman has dreamt up an entire fantasy world overlaying her real historical world with evil creatures and strong heroines that I have never encountered before. It makes this an easy page-turner and an even more enticing read.
Lady Helen Wrexhall is uncharacteristically witty, intelligent, and strong for her time, which makes it so easy to love her. While she is destined for high society, there is the feeling that she is meant for something more, and as strange things begin to happen to her we begin to see that she may be destined for more than humankind overall. But the best part about this book is that Helen has a choice in her destiny. While her, ahem, newfound abilities were thrust upon her without a warning, whether or not she kept them was entirely up to her. In fact, this entire novel is a series of choices for her. And though her terrible Uncle--I seriously hate this man!--is doing everything in his power to control her and her reputation, our girl makes her own choices and lives her life by her own rules. She is such a fresh voice among YA fiction that I cannot wait for everyone to discover!
The only reason this book is not getting five stars from me is because of the pacing. Despite it's length being just under five hundred pages, this book is a quick read, but it did drag in a few places where the boredom of high society and necessary world-building took over from the edge-of-your-seat fantasy and slightly steampunk elements. I especially noticed a lot of this in the middle of the book, and it did make me put the book down for a short period of time. But, alas, if that is my only complaint, I am supremely satisfied with everything else.
With a slow-burning romance to satisfy our inner romance lovers, an amazing friendship dynamic that crosses classes, and Goodman's signature fleshed out world, this book is not one to be ignored. There's a little bit of everything for everyone, and I cannot wait for its sequel! Bring on more mystery and crazy plot twists!
FTC Disclaimer: I received no compensation of any kind in exchange for my honest review.