REVIEW of Miss Sharp’s Monsters Series (#1-#3) by Suzannah Rowntree

MEET THE AUTHOR

Suzannah Rowntree says: Hi! I live in a big house in rural Australia with my awesome parents and siblings, drinking fancy tea and writing historical fantasy fiction that blends real-world history with legend, adventure, and a dash of romance.

​If you like the historical fantasy of Stephen Lawhead, S. A. Chakraborty or Naomi Novik, you’ll probably like my stories too!

https://suzannahrowntree.weebly.com/


MY REVIEW

Miss Sharp’s Monsters explores a mythical Victorian world where the heads of the European monarchies are, in fact, monsters. And by monsters, we mean werewolves, sirens, vampires…and did I mention werewolves? Attacked by a monster in the past, Liz Sharp’s memory of the incident has disappeared. Beginning a new life as a bodyguard to Princess May, she comes face to face with the royal rulers of Europe, one of whom might be the very monster who scarred her face. When her friend Sal dies, with all the suspicious marks of a werewolf mauling, Miss Sharp is determined to bring the killer to justice. But is the best vengeance for murder, murder itself? Torn between the anarchists who want to destroy the dynasties of Europe and her allegiance to justice, Miss Sharp must decide whether to bomb it all to blazes or find another way to defang the powers that be.

It’s hard to review one of the Miss Sharp books without reviewing all of them, because they are a true trilogy with each book moving to the next with a flurry of fast-paced action. In The Werewolf of Whitechapel, Miss Sharp comes to some very concerning conclusions about the English royal family, who purportedly are the only non-monsters in power in Europe. The scene featuring Queen Victoria is one that will stay with you. Miss Sharp’s antagonistic partnership with Inspector Short features charming banter as each of them try to stay true to their vision for justice.

In Anarchist on the Orient Express, Liz Sharp ranges farther afield, trying to protect Princess May from Anton Lupei–who claims to have once been her fiance. Unwilling to surrender her fate to either Inspector Short or Anton Lupei, Miss Sharp travels the rails of Europe, dodging the undead policeman zombies–called revenants–that serve the monarchical monsters. In A Vampire in Bavaria, Miss Sharp continues her enigmatic association with the Grand Duke Vasily of Russia. She falls afoul of the Kabale, a group of monsters who control what their kind can and cannot do. Determined to bring down the Kabale, Liz develops a plan to defang them involving a serum made of special blood–but if the blood is not given willingly, how is Liz any better than the monsters who maraud through the streets of Europe’s capital cities?

This is a remarkable paranormal series that takes gaslamp/steampunk fantasy and mixes it with beasts of legend. Although there are hints of romance in the series, the books are clean, refusing to go down the path of lust and seduction ubiquitous in vampire literature. The author also poses an ethical dilemma–certainly, monsters who kill deserve to be punished for their crimes, but if they are also people too, just how should they be punished? The sacramental nature of blood, and blood freely given, is explored in the series. In the end, Liz Sharp has to be willing to give up all hope of victory if it means doing what is right.

This highly original series is an entertaining read for teens or adults. Recommended.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

 

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