Excerpt from the prologue:
Christmas Eve, London, 1859
An accusing, hollow voice echoed in Katherine Whittemore’s mind as she inched her shoes closer to the edge of Westminster Bridge. Your fairy tale is over, the familiar voice repeated, causing Kat’s stomach to lurch with each reminder. Shoving the sounds from her thoughts, she forced her gaze to her feet, which now appeared as two shafts of ice among the snow gathering along the half-finished bridge. Her diamond-encrusted shoes evoked memories laced with pain, and Kat released a guttural scream of disgust.
She raised her eyes toward London, the peaks of its rooftops ominous stalagmites against the dark cave of night. This would be the last she would see of the city she called home. She allowed her eyes to drift to Bethlem Royal Hospital, one of London’s institutions for the mad, and a shudder shot through her body. The asylum held secrets which she would now take to her grave.
Big Ben tolled, jolting the girl to her core as she tottered on the precipice. She gripped the beam above her head to steady herself, the jagged edge of the stone tearing her flesh. As the wind whipped the hem of her dress around her ankles, shackling her, she peered through an opaque wall of tears at the black snake of the river Thames as it wound its way through London. Her arms, with two small beads of blood charting a downward course upon them, shook as they held her from her destiny. Or, perhaps they shook because of it.
It had all been a lie. All of it.
As she stood upon the threshold of death, she realized where it had all gone wrong, and she hated herself for it. If she had only handled it differently, if she had only been stronger, this would not be her fate.
But, alas it was, and with the blood racing through her veins for possibly the last time, she took one step forward.