The Dark Days Pact Blog Tour- Guest Post + Giveaway

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I fell head over heels last year for Alison Goodman’s The Dark Days Club. This book swept me away and I fell so in love with the characters I couldn’t wait for the sequel, The Dark Days Pact. The moment this landed on my doorstep (after flailing) I picked it up and became 100% immersed again in this vivid world and characters (read my review here). I am beyond honored to have the author here on my blog today talking about the historical research involved with writing these books.

tddpig

Guest Post

Feel like a swim at Brighton beach in 1812? For a lady, it wasn’t a straightforward business. First you had to purchase a swimming chemise made of flannel with lead weights sewn into the hem. Heaven forbid that your gown should rise in the water and expose your nethers! It was true that the lead would most likely weigh you down in the water, but it didn’t really matter because you would not actually be swimming. Instead, you would book a session with a dipper; a burly local woman who would hold on to you tight and plunge you in and out of the water, rather like a teabag.

Of course, getting into the water was not just a matter of walking through the waves. It involved a wooden bathing box on wheels and a small, salt encrusted pony. The bathing box had a door at either end. You would enter at the beach-end and the little pony would haul the box into the sea, then it would be unhitched and taken around to the other side to be hitched in readiness to drag the box and you out again. Meanwhile, you would open the seaward door and descend the bathing box steps into the strong arms of your dipper.

One two three, plunge, One two three plunge. There, you have taken your ‘swim’. .

The Lady Helen series is historically accurate (give or take a few thousand nasty demons), and so when I read about this method of sea bathing in Regency Brighton, I knew I had to include a scene in The Dark Days Pact where my protagonist, Lady Helen, is ‘dipped’ by one of these fabulous local women.  In fact, I wanted Helen to be dipped by the most famous dipper of all time:  Martha Gunn. Martha was so famous that songs were written about her and her image appeared on souvenir crockery. She was also a favorite of the Prince Regent who liked her so much that he allowed her free access to the royal kitchens at Brighton Pavilion for her entire life. In the summer of 1812, when The Dark Days Pact is set, Martha would have been in her eighties and she was still dipping people in the sea!

To research something like the bathing box scene, I always start by reading widely on the subject. I found articles about Martha and her life, and books about Brighton that described the boxes and how they were used. I also hunted out descriptions of sea bathing in letters and diaries from the time, and my most valued find was a travel guide to All the Water and Sea-Bathing Places in England  from 1813 that included a chapter on Brighton. I was also fortunate enough to visit Brighton and its museum, which had a fabulous little section on sea bathing throughout history.

I then turned to visual prompts, which help me imagine the historical scene. I found a drawing of sea bathing at Regency Brighton on the internet (see picture). It is a caricature – a mode of illustration that became very popular in the Regency – and although it is drawn for laughs, I was able to pick up a lot of incidental information about bathing boxes and the process of dipping. I double-checked everthing, of course – that is part of the research process too.

Finally, once I had all the facts I needed in hand, I wrote the scene and layered in the sensory detail from my own experience. I live near the sea in Australia so, of course, I have a lot of sensory information about sea bathing. I used that to create the sensations that Helen feels as she steps out of the bathing box. The shock of cold water against her skin, the weight of waves slapping against her body, the low roar of the surf cut by the shrill screech of gulls, and the taste of salt on her lips. And above all, the safe arms of Martha Gunn:

Martha viewed an incoming wave with narrowed eyes. ‘Hold tight,’ she advised, then jumped, pulling Helen above its crest with practised ease.

Hold Tight. Sage advice for anyone about to step into the dangerous, demon hunting world of The Dark Days Pact.

mermaids

Mermaids at Brighton by William Heath 1829

About the Book

thedarkdayspactThe Dark Days Pact (Lady Helen #2)
By Alison Goodman
Release Date: January 31, 2017
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers

Summary:
June 1812. Just weeks after her catastrophic coming-out ball, Lady Helen Wrexhall—now disowned by her uncle—is a full member of the demon-hunting Dark Days Club. Her mentor, Lord Carlston, has arranged for Helen to spend the summer season in Brighton so that he can train her new Reclaimer powers. However, the long-term effects of Carlston’s Reclaimer work have taken hold, and his sanity is beginning to slip. At the same time, Carlston’s Dark Days Club colleague and nemesis will stop at nothing to bring Helen over to his side—and the Duke of Selburn is determined to marry her. The stakes are even higher for Helen as she struggles to become the warrior that everyone expects her to be.

Giveaway

Enter for a chance to win either one (1) grand prize set of Lady Helen books, including a paperback of The Dark Days Club and a hardcover of The Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman (ARV: $28.98), or to be one of five (5) second prize winners to receive paperback copies of The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman (ARV: $10.99).

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on January 23, 2017 and 12:00 AM on February 13, 2017. Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about February 14, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.
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Blog Tour Stops

Week One:
1/23 – A Page With a View – Like/Try/Why
1/24 – Tales of a Ravenous Reader – Interview
1/25 – Twinning for Books – Review + Mood Board
1/26 – My Friends Are Fiction – Guest Post
1/27 – In Wonderland – Review
Week Two:
1/30 – Alexa Loves Books – Bookish Style File
1/31 – The Reading Nook Reviews – Interview
2/1 – Xpresso Reads – Playlist
2/2 – The YA Book Traveler – They Did What?!
2/3 – Icey Books – Guest Post
Week Three:
2/6 – YA Book Central – Excerpt
2/7 – Fiction Fare – Guest Post
2/8 – Forever Young Adult – Coming-Out Ball Mishaps
2/9 – Dark Faerie Tales – Interview
2/10 – Adventures of a Book Junkie – Reasons to Read

Review of The Dark Days Pact (Lady Helen #2) by Alison Goodman

thedarkdayspactThe Dark Days Pact (Lady Helen #2)
By: Alison Goodman
Release Date: January 31st 2017
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

My Rating:
star

Summary:
June 1812. Just weeks after her catastrophic coming-out ball, Lady Helen Wrexhall—now disowned by her uncle—is a full member of the demon-hunting Dark Days Club. Her mentor, Lord Carlston, has arranged for Helen to spend the summer season in Brighton so that he can train her new Reclaimer powers. However, the long-term effects of Carlston’s Reclaimer work have taken hold, and his sanity is beginning to slip. At the same time, Carlston’s Dark Days Club colleague and nemesis will stop at nothing to bring Helen over to his side—and the Duke of Selburn is determined to marry her. The stakes are even higher for Helen as she struggles to become the warrior that everyone expects her to be.

My Thoughts:
I fell so deeply in love last year with The Dark Days Club I couldn’t wait for this sequel. The moment it showed up I dived into it and I wasn’t disappointed at all. Goodman is impeccable at coloring her world with historical accuracy and it allows for the reader to fully become immersed in the time period. The idea that she’s added a paranormal aspects into such a realistic storyline with such vivid characters and world is just perfection.

The characters- oh how I love each of them. Lady Helen is such an excellent character to follow the story with. We read from her point of view and I just love seeing how she views her world. She isn’t a perfect character by any means which allows her to be so relatable. I love her interactions with the supporting cast and her struggle to fully embrace her powers and role in the Dark Days Club.

My favorite character has to be Carlston. He’s so mysterious, likeable and just a touch of Darcy. I think he’s the perfect mix of these things and his stony façade has me itching to always learn that tiny bit more about what’s under the surface. His interactions with Lady Helen are my favorite parts of the book. I only wish he could have been in this book even more. I don’t think I can ever get enough of him.

As with the first book the beginning starts a tad slower paced with the author spending time on the setting, clothing and traditions of the time. I love how she slowly immerses the reader into everything before pulling the rug and sending you on a fantastic ride wrapped in action, intrigue and suspense. Prepare yourself for the last bit of the book- you’ll not want to put it down and once it ends you’ll be desperate for book 3.

tddpig

Final Thoughts:
Yes, this review is short but I can’t say enough about this series. If you are a fan of paranormal and/or historical you must pick these books up. The character chemistry, world, storyline- are all just perfect. These are by far some of my favorite books ever.