Murder, monsters…and a disreputable Victorian lady's maid.
A killer stalks the grimy streets of Whitechapel—but Scotland Yard seems determined to turn a blind eye. With one look at her best friend's corpse, Liz Sharp already knows the truth: the killer is a werewolf.
No one important will hold a werewolf accountable—after all, the monsters rule Europe. Certainly, no one will believe a werewolf victim like Liz: the very scars that make her determined to investigate Sal's death also condemn her as the sort of female who'd sell her blood for easy money.
As it happens, Liz's best hope for justice might well lie with her emotionally repressed employer, Princess May. Though the princess has connections with werewolf royalty, there's no one else Liz can turn to. Certainly, she can't risk trusting the irritatingly personable Inspector Short, who dogs her steps from the slums of Whitechapel to the palaces of St James.
But as corpses mount up, Liz discovers that no one is precisely who she thought: not Sal, not herself, and certainly not the werewolf.
Luckily, she has a few tricks hidden in the pockets of her trusty bloomers…
The first novel of Miss Sharp's Monsters is a witty historical fantasy adventure, perfect for fans of The Parasol Protectorate or Pride and Prejudice and Zombies! Pick up The Werewolf of Whitechapel and join Miss Sharp on the uncanny streets of Victorian London…
"Full of FEELINGS and EXPLOSIONS...a bit of grit and a lot of heart, the best kind of gaslamp."– W.R. Gingell, author of the City Between series
"Pacy, witty, and touching, Miss Sharp has it all."– Eli Hinze, historical fantasy author
"A riotous romp of an adventure"– Goodreads reviewer
"A mad mix of history, humor, adrenaline, mayhem, and monsters...I'm all eyes and ears for the sequel!"– Goodreads reviewer
A werewolf!" I said faintly. "Do you mean—"
"That gentleman is the brother of the German Empress, and he has been perfectly beastly to Eddy all morning." Princess May pulled off her second shooting-glove and slapped it into her left palm with unnecessary force, as though she would have liked to repeat the operation with the German prince's face. "How is Eddy to propose to me, if Ernst Gunther will keep hanging about being cruel to him?"
The night lessons at Saint Botolph's flooded back to me. "Er—we might shoot him with a silver bullet, ma'am. Or drop wolfsbane in his tea."
"Wolfsbane! Would that be safe?"
"Safe—oh!" My shock must have destroyed the power of thought. Of course, an English princess could not murder a royal suitor at tea in her garden, no matter how monstrous. I must keep my wits about me. "I beg your pardon, your highness. They didn't teach me much about werewolves at Saint Botolph's."
"What did you learn?"
"Oh—defusing bombs, picking locks, basic shift ciphers, a little French and German and fine needlework—that sort of thing."
"I don't see why they couldn't have taught you a little about werewolves. I've never met an anarchist, but all my German cousins are werewolves, and it would be so nice, sometimes, to give them just a little fright. Very well, it can't be helped. You might as well go in, and have Mrs Leacock show you to your room."
As she turned back to the table, the German overset the milk-jug with a clatter. "May!" he called, jumping up. "You must have your girl bring more milk. I have spilled it all."
Resigned, I accompanied May to the table and took the milk-jug. I scrutinised Ernst Gunther as I did so. He was a rather beefy, stupid-looking young man some years older than May and myself, with a neatly-trimmed imperial beard and a bad haircut that looked as though it had been cut with the assistance of a shallow bowl. He smiled at me, not very pleasantly, and said, "Are your brothers at home, May?"
"I'm afraid not. Dolly and Frank are with their regiments, and Alge is at school."
"What a shame! I had hoped to pay my respects."
"But Papa is in his library and would be delighted to receive you," she added quickly, seizing the opportunity. "Sharp will show you to the house, if you wish."
"Splendid!" he returned, and with a little military click of his heels, he bowed very formally, first to May, and then to Eddy. As we crossed the lawn together, Ernst Gunther added, "It is very good of you to show me the way, Miss—?"
There was something insinuating in his voice, which I neither liked nor trusted. "Sharp, your highness."
"Call me Ernst."
"I would not dare, sir," I said in the most prim and quelling tone of which I was capable. As we approached the house, I hesitated. I did not know where to find the Duke of Teck's library, and if I took Ernst Gunther up the exterior steps to the French doors I could see on this side of the house, I might disturb one of the family. Very well, I would take him in by the downstairs entrance and hand him over to another of the servants in the kitchen, and then at least I would be rid of him. "This way, if you please."
I led the way down the steps to the door through which I had come. I had taken three steps through the cool, flagstoned passage when I found myself seized and pinned against the wall. "Now then, Sharp," Ernst Gunther said breathlessly, "be a good kind girl, and give me a kiss."
"What the dickens?" I said shakily, and as he lunged for my mouth, I turned quickly away, and he bumped his forehead against the wall.
"Don't be coy, my dainty," he said. "It will be full moon in another night or two, and I'll need to drink. What's the price for a feed? I'll pay whatever you charged your last buyer."
Since my attack I had had an unusually developed sense of smell, and at present Ernst's emotions were pouring off him—lust and hunger and excitement. Mingled among them I could scent my own. Curiously, I was not afraid. My moment of fear had come in the garden, minutes ago. Presently, all I felt was a strange exhilaration.
I had waited two years for this moment.
"Are you hungry, Ernst?" I drew back my lips, showing my teeth in a snarl. "How hungry do you think I am?" And with a growl, I lunged for his throat.
Whatever he had expected, it was not this; and part of him must have believed in the stories that said his monstrous condition was contagious—just as Miss Scrimpson did. He flinched away from me with an inarticulate yelp of terror. Thus freed, I took a step forward, placing my right foot behind his left heel, and threw him over my hip.
He fell heavily, and I knelt, grasping him by the throat. Although my attack had left me with greatly augmented strength, as a full-blooded monster his would still be superior to mine, and I must press my advantage while he was still frightened and disoriented. Finding the pulse-points on his neck, I applied gentle pressure. "On a January night two years ago, my face was ripped open by a werewolf. Was it you, Ernst Gunther? Were you in London then?"
Before he could reply, the kitchen door opened and I looked up into the horrified eyes of the cook, the valet, the housekeeper, two housemaids and Mr Chips.
"Miss Sharp!" the butler protested.