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A Hunt by Moonlight

A Victorian detective novel in a gaslamp fantasy setting

by Shawna Reppert

A Hunt by Moonlight - Shawn Reppert - Werewolves and Gaslight Mysteries
Editions:Kindle: $ 3.99
Pages: 298
Paperback: $ 15.99
ISBN: 1535550139
Size: 6.00 x 9.00 in
Pages: 296
Audiobook: $ 15.18

A Scotland Yard Inspector hunts something more dangerous than werewolves through the gaslit streets of London.

Royston Jones, unacknowledged bastard of a high-born family, is determined to track the killer before more young women fall to his knife. But his investigation puts him in the way of a lord who is a clandestine werewolf and the man’s fiancée , a woman alchemist with attitude and a secret of her own.

Will they destroy Royston to protect their covert identities, or will they join with him to hunt the hunter?

Reviews:Barb Taub on Writing & Coffee. Especially coffee. wrote:

What if Queen Victoria and H.P. Lovecraft’s love child was raised by Arthur Conan Doyle? The result might be something like Shawna Reppert’s new detective fiction, the steampunk/paranormal/detective mashup genre known as gaslamp fantasy. Like steampunk, its alternate-history cousin, gaslamp fantasy is set in a Jules Verne world of Victorian steam powered wonders. But this world includes magic and fantasy elements, and often steps away from the steampunk promise of simplicity, romance, and cool design to showcase the grittier elements of the Victorian world.

For the most part, the story is from the point of view of Detective Inspector Royston Jones—The Watson. In 1930, when the venerable British Detection Club drew up their list of rules for writing detective fiction—rules regularly broken by members such as Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, etc.—rule #9 was: “The stupid friend of the detective, the Watson, must not conceal any thoughts which pass through his mind; his intelligence must be slightly, but very slightly, below that of the average reader.” [see my post here].

In Detective Jones’ Victorian London, werewolves are a pathetic subsection of society, openly and legally discriminated against more even than women or Irish. So neither Jones nor most of London can explain why it’s a werewolf who finally takes down the Jack the Ripper-style murderer known as Ladykiller. But when a new series of murders occurs with the same methods used by the dead murderer, Jones finds clues leading him back to the werewolf, and to a pair of young aristocrats hiding devastating secrets of their own.

Although nominally the detective, Jones willingly admits that he’s the least intelligent person involved in the case. In the manner of every Watson—from Sherlock’s actual Watson to Poirot’s Captain Hastings, Harry Potter’s Ron Weasley, any of Dr. Who’s Companions, and every other member of the cast of House except Dr. House himself—Jones main job is to narrate the story as he sees it unfold, sharing all available clues with the reader, but never actually being the one to put it together until All Is Revealed.

But author Reppert plays with this trope as well. If the detective is The Watson, who solves the crime? With help from Jones’ friends, associates, and the murderer, the reader is offered clues. While Jones slogs doggedly on, always a step behind the murderer, the case also reveals his own backstory, as well as the desperate lives of lower class Londoners. His own history as the illegitimate son of an aristocratic family drives him to seek justice for vulnerable victims such as young women, and the even more vulnerable infant victims of “baby farms” where supposed caretakers murdered their little victims after promising care to the desperate mothers.

I wouldn’t hesitate to give five stars to this book. Not only is the pace perfectly suited to the increasingly desperate search to stop a killer, but the voice is a fabulously subtle nod to the original Watson. I particularly enjoyed the way the character of Inspector Jones grew and developed over the course of the novel, while the supporting cast was well developed and three dimensional. Clearly, we’re going to see more of all of them—the doggedly determined detective, the brilliant young aristocratic alchemist, and her equally aristocratic and ridiculously noble werewolf lover. I can’t wait.

Kathryn Kammerzell on Amazon wrote:

I loved this series. Gaslamp, historical,fantasy mysteries -- what's not to love?! Looking forward to more books from this author.

K. Towle on Amazon wrote:

This was excellent! Royston Jones is the classic detective, doing his very best to uphold justice even when he's painfully aware of how unfair his society as a whole can be, when the poor are roundly condemned simply for being poor and the nobility can literally get away with murder; I was really reminded of an inspector of the author Anne Perry's series. I would have enjoyed this book with just Royston as a protagonist, but throw in a clandestine werewolf--clandestine because their furry curse has caused werewolves to be condemned by Society, to become the lowest class of all--and my attention is guaranteed. Add in a woman who has used her genius to find a way around the restrictions Society has imposed on her gender, and I'm lovin' it!
I won't say much about the mystery itself because I don't want to give the plot away. But rest assured that this is indeed a murder mystery, resolved in a plausible fashion, and even if you figure out who the murderer is before the Big Reveal--which I did--Royston's reaction and subsequent actions, everything he went through, kept me reading to the very end.
Looking forward to the next book in the Werewolves and Gaslight series!

About the Author

Shawna Reppert, an award-winning author of fantasy and steampunk, is proud of keeping readers up all night and making them miss work deadlines. Her fiction asks questions for which there are no easy answers, while at the same time taking the reader on a fine adventure that grips them heart and soul and keeps them turning pages until the very end.

She shares her home with a black-and-orange cat named Samhain who occasionally takes over her blog.

In the past, she had occasionally been found in medieval garb on a caparisoned horse, throwing javelins into innocent hay bales that never did anything to her. More recently, she has been known to attend Victorian teas in her steampunk regalia.

She grew up in Pennsylvania, and now lives in the beautiful wine country of Oregon. Each has colored her writing in different ways.