Presented by James Patterson’s new children’s imprint, this deliciously creepy horror novel has a storyline inspired by the Ripper murders and an unexpected, blood-chilling conclusion…
Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.
Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.
The story’s shocking twists and turns, augmented with real, sinister period photos, will make this dazzling, #1 New York Times bestselling debut from author Kerri Maniscalco impossible to forget.
Title: Stalking Jack the Ripper
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Genre: YA/Historical fiction/mystery
This was a really enjoyable read with some things about it that really bugged me. A fairly mixed bag in general, but still worth a good 3.5 stars in my book!
The book is very much about afternoon tea and analysing corpses. If that turns your stomach then this isn’t for you (I know, afternoon tea gives me nightmares too…), but to be honest it isn’t done as graphically as I thought so you still might be safe to give it a try!
The determination of Audrey despite the limitations of women in her time really endeared me to her and I think was one of the main reasons I enjoyed the book as much as I did.
What I liked:
It was really nice to have little touches of the etiquette from the time of Jack the Ripper, like how Audrey and Thomas weren’t supposed to call each other by their first names unless they were married so it was *scandalous* at the time. Or how having afternoon tea was a necessity if you wanted to stay relevant in society. It helped ground me in the time period which I really appreciated.
Drama and gore:
Oh boy was there a lot of this. The mystery and intrigue surrounding Jack the Ripper is still just as good today as it ever was, so having this as the central plot really made this book incredibly dramatic. And the detail in which Audrey describes the victims is so morbid that you really feel like you’re there.
The mystery in this book takes a while to solve, and if you know the history of Jack the Ripper then you’ll know how many people he kills before he disappeared, so obviously there’s a lot to see before everything is solved. A lot happens in this book, and there are a fair few red herrings in the murder mystery, so it keeps the suspense amped up through a lot of the book! This made it extremely hard to put down.
Audrey is a person who loves learning about science, and doing autopsies in her spare time. She begs her uncle to be able to go to his classes (though we then only get to see one of them in the beginning… does she not go again?) so obviously she has a lot of medical knowledge.
I loved Reading Artemis and Martian, so I’m very much the kind of person who loves to read a good fiction book with some very good science in it too. This book really tried to do that and I very much appreciated it, with little touches here and there of Audrey really knowing her stuff when it came to forensic science. It was a little lighter in places than I’d have liked, but still a lot more than quite a bit of YA out there at the moment.
Audrey is grabbed a lot… and faints a lot?:
For someone who seems to be the feminist of her time, Audrey does do a lot of simpering, fainting from *emotions* and lets herself be grabbed and pulled around a lot. I’d have liked to see her stand up for herself and push away assumptions that her female constitution wasn’t strong enough to deal with things, especially since she does autopsies in her spare time.
Romance slightly rushed:
Thomas was a very good character, I admit, but the romance between him and Audrey really could have done with another book or two to really get going. It feels like Audrey’s flip to suddenly being in love with him was very much that – a flip – and it doesn’t feel real enough to make me care about it as much as I wanted to.
Over Description in the writing:
Oh my god please stop. I was confused as to why I felt a little apart from the writing while reading this, until I read sentence after sentence in this sort of structure “like a porcelain doll, easily fractured, discarded when broken so quickly”. Like, I get it, she is treated like a doll. Couldn’t this sort of thing have been said in one short sentence rather than the run on one we get?
I mean, this might have shortened the book quite a bit, but it really would have helped make some scenes a lot snappier than they were.
I guessed the killer:
This is the big disappointing thing for me. I knew who the killer was around halfway through the book and then the rest was me kind of frustrated at Audrey for not figuring out the same clues I did. It was supposed to make Thomas seem like some sort of Sherlock type character, but to me it just made Audrey seem a little ignorant.
To be fair, this didn’t lessen the gravitas of the final scene one bit for me. It was still spooky and scary and I loved it. I would have just loved it that tiny bit more if I had the surprise in the same way Audrey did.
All in all though, this was a good and fun read. I very much look forward to reading the next book ‘Hunting Prince Dracula’ because I adore both Dracula and Vlad the Impaler! Hopefully the writing has settled a bit from this book also, then it could easily be a five star read for me.