Friday, March 26, 2021

Why You NEED to Read The Werewolf of Whitechapel

 Hello, all! So, if you read last week's post, you may remember me absolutely raving about one book in particular: The Werewolf of Whitechapel, the first in Suzannah Rowntree's new historical fantasy mystery series, Miss Sharp's Monsters. If you didn't read last week's post (or if you did read it but you don't remember it because you skimmed through it, added a bunch of books to your TBR list, and then stuffed more important things into its memory-space), here's the quick need-to-know about the book: it's set in a fantastical alternate England, and it follows Liz Sharp, an amnesiac werewolf victim and lady's maid and bodyguard who's trying to solve her best friend's murder. For some of you, that may be all you need to know to know why you should ABSOLUTELY read it as soon as humanely possible. If so, it's on Amazon in Kindle form (just released yesterday!), and a paperback version is on the way. But if you need a little more convincing, well, read on!

Why You NEED to Read The Werewolf of Whitechapel

  1. The storytelling style is deliciousThe Werewolf of Whitechapel is written in a more modern and fast-paced version of the Victorian memoir, which is to say that it's very conversational and full of personality and little asides and hints. It sort of takes the best parts of Victorian and modern writing and blends them together, and the result is just such a delight to read. And Rowntree does this sort of thing a lot — the other books of hers that I've read also had a more old-fashioned tone and style to match the eras they're set in — but it's especially effective here. Though that's in no small part thanks to the fact that . . .
  2. Miss Sharp is magnificent. Devastatingly loyal, recklessly bold, impossibly curious, and unrelentingly dedicated to discovering truth, with a wit as keen as her name, Miss Liz Sharp is everything you could possibly want in a fantasy-mystery heroine. She's no intellectual, unlike some other favorite detectives, but she's clever and not afraid to get her hands dirty when necessary. She's also very capable of taking care of herself, which is fun. In many respects, she reminds me of Isabella Farrah from Masque, but less polished and with significantly less social rank to apply to her problems.
  3. The worldbuilding is excellent. Essentially, the thrones of Europe are held by monsters of mythology — vampires, sirens, and, of course, werewolves — all except for the throne of England. And Rowntree did a magnificent job of taking that premise and combining it with well-researched historical reality to create a version of the world that feels believable and even unquestionable. The attitudes of different people and groups, the portrayal of actual historical figures (many of whom play major roles in the story), the details . . . it's all very well done.
  4. It's kind of nice that the lead isn't anyone particularly "special." This is a weird thing to like, but bear with me, please. Miss Sharp is clever, but she's not the smartest person in the room. She's well-trained, but not more so than any of the other girls in her situation. She's not gifted with special knowledge or anything of the sort. She's not an ordinary person — I mean, remember the "amnesiac werewolf victim" bit I mentioned earlier? — but she's not the only one of her kind. That's a bit unusual for a detective, fantasy or otherwise — classic detectives tend to be the smartest person in the room; fantasy-mystery detectives are often magically gifted (like Jackaby or Harry Dresden) or at least connected with a magical organization of some kind (like Irene of The Invisible Library). That makes Miss Sharp a bit of a rarity, but in a good way.
  5. Overall, the story is, as some might put it, rather a lark to read. There's just the right balance of humor and action and suspense, mixed in with slowly growing friendships and genuinely emotional moments, to make this book perfectly enjoyable. One moment you're laughing at the banter between characters or Miss Sharp's asides to the reader; the next you're clutching the book and frantically turning pages as our hero ventures into a den of monsters in search of answers or discovers a shocking truth. There's never a slow moment, and the story is solid without being weighty.

Are you excited about The Werewolf of Whitechapel yet? If not, you should be — I'd rank it up JackabyMasque, and The Invisible Library in terms of how much I love it. I even preordered the sequel pretty much as soon as I saw it was available, and I almost never do that. Anyway, excited or not, please tell me in the comments! (And if you scored an ARC like I did, tell me that too so we can rave over it together!)
Thanks for reading!

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