I know it is hard to accept, but there are agencies other than human in our cities, and they require certain special abilities to contain. Our abilities. For centuries Reclaimers had worked alone, but Mr. Fielding drew our kind into one group: the Dark Days Club..."
Lady Helen starts The Dark Days Club preparing for her presentation before Queen Charlotte. Her parents both died ten years earlier, so she lives under the care of her aunt and uncle. Her aunt is nice, but overbearing. Her uncle sucks. Seriously, he tells her that if the Queen asks about her mother, who everyone believes to have been a traitor to the British government, to say that her mother's death was for the best. His intimidation actually spurs Helen to bring a miniature (A little portrait, if you didn't know) of her mother to the presentation attached to her fan.
Helen is surprised to encounter the notorious Lord Carlston at the palace. Carlston is rumored to have murdered his wife, then suspiciously vanished from society. He is also distantly related to Helen. After a strange encounter, Helen is upset to realize that Carlston stole her miniature. To add to the peculiarity, the Queen does ask after her mother, then tells her, "Don't believe everything you hear."
To get her mother's portrait back, Helen arranges for a visit from Carlston. She is incredibly surprised when he ends up forcefully throwing it at her...and she catches it. Her newly discovered reflexes are bad enough, but one day at the park she nearly ruins her prospects with a potential suitor by starting to chase a runaway horse. The odd part was that she somehow knew exactly what the horse would do before it did it. Carlston eventually reveals the truth: she is a Reclaimer, like her mother before her.
Reclaimers seek out Deceivers, demonic creatures in human form, which they can see through a special lens but only after the Deceiver has fed. There are several different types of Deceivers, all of which feed on sin and vice. The Dark Days Club is the collective group of Reclaimers in England, of which there are very few compared to the thousands of Deceivers. Carlston wants to train Helen to fight the Deceivers after she gains her Receiver strength. Yet there are things he keeps from her, important revelations about her mother that Helen ends up finding out for herself. So she ends up with a big decision on whether to become a Reclaimer or to give up her legacy and possibly herself.
I really liked the regency era setting of the book. It's like Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Pride and Prejudice. Everything was way more difficult for Helen given that she had to adhere to such strict rules of conduct as an upper class and unmarried young lady. The story did get weighed down a bit by exposition, but I understand how that can happen with a first book. I'm still looking forward to reading more of the Lady Helen series to see how her story unfolds after the big changes at the end of this book.