A mixture of mystery, horror, romance, and humor, Stalking Jack the Ripper is a fast read that incorporates feminist themes with its smart and witty protagonist, Audrey Rose.
Title: Stalking Jack the Ripper
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Genres: YA Historical Mystery
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.
Audrey Rose is studying under her uncle as an apprentice forensic scientist, and while most people find the gory work abominable, she revels in it. Her capabilities are obvious, as is her anachronistic nature–Audrey Rose has a twenty-first century mind, especially when it comes to feminist ideas, and she isn’t afraid to show them. This was a bit jarring at first, but I quickly learned to appreciate Audrey Rose and her headstrong nature.
Overall, I thought Audrey Rose was quite fun to hang out with for a few hours. Even when she got rather googly-eyed around Thomas Cresswell, I couldn’t really blame her. Thomas Cresswell, the love interest in this book, did not make a good first impression on me. He came across very rude and a bit of a jerk. Think Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes (but not quite as bad). After a few chapters, however, he really became an interesting character. He’s totally smitten with Audrey, and he isn’t afraid to make that known. It’s pretty hilarious actually. And really heart-melting-ly sweet. He really shined in this book–when he didn’t show up for a while I was asking, “Where is Thomas?” I would have loved even more of him.
I liked some of the minor characters in this book–mainly Audrey Rose’s brother and cousin. I thought they were pretty interesting. Unfortunately, a lot of the minor characters didn’t really have a role in the story. They felt more like props and plot devices than actual people. This is only a minor grievance, since the main characters really are fantastic.
This is a very fast-paced story filled with lots of clues and hints to the ending. It is very easy to follow, not very complicated. I personally guessed who the Ripper was at page 100 (I told my husband to stand as witness that I thought it was –this person– before I continued reading). But I kept reading because I was really curious to see if I was right. It was fun coming along with Audrey Rose as she gathered all the clues together and figured out who it was.
I really enjoyed the romantic subplot. It was just so darned cute! I really can’t resist Audrey and Thomas together.
My only gripe is that some of the clues I found were never put together by Audrey in the end. In my head I was like, “But this and this come together, which is why this makes sense!” But she put together other clues to make it make sense… I felt Maniscalco left some loose ends here, though I’m pretty sure they won’t be pursued in the next book (if any of this makes sense to you, I applaud you. I’m trying not to give away the ending…)
I really appreciated how Maniscalco fictionalized the victims in the Ripper’s story. I thought it was very respectful. When their deaths are described, the gore is not glorified–in fact, thanks to Audrey’s perspective, it felt very clinical.
I felt Maniscalco did a good job with the setting and historical aspects of the book. I’m no expert in 1800’s London, but I never felt jolted out of the story. The Author’s Note at the end was really helpful as well.
I really, really enjoyed this book. It’s by no means a perfect book, but it was funny, spooky, and very intriguing. I couldn’t stop reading it, and in fact finished it in two sittings. I really couldn’t put it down. I will most likely be picking up the next book.