On October 12th we'll be unveiling the covers to Eeper Weeper and One for Sorrow, the first two novels in the Whitechapel Paranormal Society series, the new Victorian Gothic horror series by E.J. Stevens. Today we have a sneak peek ARC book excerpt for you.
Book Excerpt: Eeper Weeper
“I didn’t hear you come in, my dear,” Doctor Hadley said, looking up from his paperwork.
“You were quite engrossed in your work, father,” I said.
It was true. Doctor Jameson Foster Hadley was always obsessed with
documenting the progress, or failures, of his latest experiments. He
was driven by what he claimed was his duty to God and crown and all
humankind. He would solve the mysteries of the human brain and fix all
that he saw as evil and flawed in the many patients who filled the
asylum outside these office walls.
“Are you wearing the shoes that I bought you?” he asked, eyes
narrowing as he scrutinized the lower portion of my dress, as if he
could force the fibers to part with his will and show him whether or not
I had indeed offended him.
I went rigid, every muscle tensing as I prepared myself for what
might follow. I was wearing the shoes in question, but I’d forgotten to
screw the metal plates back onto the bottom of each shoe, a mistake
that could be seen as dangerous rebellion, or worse. I forced breath
into my lungs and bowed my head dutifully to the man I now called
father, the man who was my salvation and my greatest enemy.
I chose my words carefully all too aware of what this monster was capable of.
“I am sorry, father,” I said, casting my eyes to the floor. “I
reached for my old shoes out of habit. It won’t happen again.”
“No, I dare say it won’t,” he said, piercing me with his gaze.
I held my breath, waiting for him to call for the orderlies to take
me to the basement where I’d be subjected to endless questions. There
would be no comfort, no food, no sleep within the stone walls of my
father’s laboratory. But fatigue and hunger were not the worst of my
fears. I’d faced that much on the streets after my parents died.
It was what came after, when I was weak and tired and restrained, that was what turned my blood to ice in my veins.
I focused on the mundane sensation of pain where my corset dug into
my ribs on one side. The bruise that blossomed there was just one more
black mark upon my character. Doctor Jameson Foster Hadley had quite
particular views on proper womanly behavior, and deep inhalations were
not to be tolerated by the fairer, weaker sex.
Indeed, as with the metal plates on my shoes to warn of my
presence, the poor fit of my corset was calculated with the utmost
I knew all of this to be true. For although I’d often questioned
what was real and what was delusion since entering the asylum’s
unscalable walls, the proof of my treatment plan was all around me. My
father had dedicated fifty-one percent of his office—such a large amount
of space when one considers the number of unfortunate souls under his
care—to the charts, diagrams, and sketches of the devices and techniques
currently in use upon my person.
But even more terrible were the detailed sketches for the
procedures and gadgets that loomed in my future like a scalpel held
aloft in the operating theater. Before my parents’ deaths, I’d believed
that knowledge held the power to dispel fear and worry. The good
doctor’s diagrams, always in full view, were evidence of my childish
innocence. Knowing and anticipating the horrors to come was much worse
than any level ignorance, no matter how low.
So I focused on the pain below my breast and tried to empty my
mind. Whatever was to come would come. It was best not to think on it.
“My dear, I am disappointed, but you say that you put on the
incorrect shoes out of habit,” he said, tapping his desk with the tip of
an ink stained finger. “I would not wish to alter this behavior too
greatly, not when habit and routine are the greatest methods by which we
can restore the damaged mind.”
I risked a quick glance from his hands to his face, tears rising
unbidden to join the hope that swelled inside my bruised chest. Had I
truly escaped from this encounter unscathed? I measured my breathing by
the ticking of the brass clock atop the mantelpiece before responding.
A misstep now would destroy the limited goodwill my earlier comment had
“I am sorry, father,” I said. “I will build a new habit with the shoes you’ve bought me.”
“And these new shoes, are they quite comfortable?” he asked.
My hand tightened into a fist at my side, but I kept my tone even
as I replied, “The shoes only pinch if I walk quickly…which I know only
from when I hastened to put out my light at the scheduled hour.”
He nodded, a satisfied smile on his lips as he made a notation in
his ledger. I fixed the docile gaze of a dutiful daughter onto my face
and waited for him to blot the page. Finally, he looked up from
his desk and gestured for me to take the tray of discarded tea things,
which had been the reason for this visit inside his domain.
But as I moved forward, he caught my wrist.
“If you promise to be good, I’ll let you join the patients in the
garden,” he said, eyes alight. “You will be good, won’t you,
“Yes, father,” I said.
I would behave, but I daren’t hope that I would ever be good
again. All that was right and true and innocent had died in the fire
that killed my family. But I’d learned how to survive, first on the
streets and now under the care and tutelage of my benefactor. I was his
ward and I’d learned to do his bidding. I created a façade of grace,
calm, and benevolence, but Doctor Hadley was a perceptive man. He’d
made studying anomalous behavior his life’s work, which made him a
difficult man to fool.
But I would pretend to be good, and hope that news of my “episodes”
did not reach him. So far, I’d managed to bribe the staff with cakes
and other sweets that I’d saved from my supper. I was too thin already,
so I could scarcely afford to give them up, but without a means of
bribery, I was as good as ruined.
I was the doctor’s success story. He’d taken me in and made a
proper woman out of me, driving out ill habits and unsuitable behavior
with various experimental therapies.
My tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth as I cleared away the
morning’s dishes from his desk. He turned back to his work, dismissing
me from his presence. I was once again unremarkable, a fixture in the
room. If I were lucky, oh so lucky, I would remain that way. To be in
that man’s notice was a position so dire, I’d not wish it on the
lowliest sinner, no not even the Devil himself.
I moved steadily to the door, practice and determination the only
thing keeping the tea things from shaking noisily on the tray. I bit my
lip and slid the door open wider, careful not to open it past the point
at which it creaked.
I knew all the sounds of this room, all the whispers, moans, and
cries of this entire rambling monstrosity of an estate. From the
kitchens to the basement laboratories to the endless, winding halls of
cell doors, this place was my home and my prison.
It didn’t matter that I was the doctor’s adopted daughter and not
an inmate. My actions were just as scrutinized, my freedom just as
limited. I was an ongoing experiment in a fancy hat and pretty dress.
If I was to survive, then I had to keep the doctor from learning
the truth. I had to keep secret the thing the staff had already begun
whispering about in the shadows. The great and prestigious man of
science, Doctor Jameson Foster Hadley had somehow made a mistake. I
wasn’t good and I wasn’t normal.
His experiment had failed.
[cover coming 10/12/16]
(Whitechapel Paranormal Society #1) by E.J. Stevens
The great and
prestigious man of science, Doctor Jameson Foster Hadley had
somehow made a mistake. I wasn’t good and I wasn’t normal. His
experiment had failed.
The tedium and terrors of Josephine "Jo" Hadley's existence within
the stone walls of London's Bethnal Asylum are interrupted by a
strange visitor, Cora Drummond, a woman who demands to interview
one of the asylum's most insane residents. The patient's rantings
include tales of ghosts and demons, but it is the bizarre,
near-riotous muttering of prophetic nursery rhymes that follow Jo
throughout the asylum wards that is most illuminating to Miss
Eeeper Weeper, chimney sweeper. Had a wife, but couldn't keep
Days later, Jo and her adoptive father receive an invitation to
attend an exclusive tea at the prestigious Whitehall Club. But the
request for Jo's attendance is more than it might seem. She has
caught the attention of a secret branch of government working
directly for the queen.
Will Jo Hadley's unusual talent for inciting prophetic nursery
rhymes prove useful to the crown? She is given one chance to
demonstrate her worth to the Special Paranormal Research Branch,
but this is one mission that even the most highly trained
operatives might not survive.
Eeper Weeper is the first novel in the Whitechapel Paranormal Society series by award-winning author E.J. Stevens. One for Sorrow (Whitechapel Paranormal Society #1) takes place six years after Eeper Weeper (Whitechapel Paranormal Society #1) and the crossover novella Craven Street
(Whitechapel Paranormal Society #0.5). The Whitechapel Paranormal
Society series is a Victorian horror (dreadpunk) series set in London's
Release Date: July 2019
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