Book Review: Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco (5/5)

 

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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.

Stalking Jack the Ripper has the feel of a gothic horror and the inventive mental attitude of a girl out of a steampunk adventure – Audrey is girly and brainy; she loves clothes and forensic science. It is a horror-mystery story in the vein of Frankenstein, and I love it.

And I picked a perfect time of year to read this (today is Halloween). It gave me all the horror-creepy feels that I crave this time of year, without the sugar overdose of candy and gore of most horror movies.

At first, I thought this book might be a bit too far on the romance side, but oh, how wrong I was! This book focused on the plot, on Audrey, not on her romance – yes, romance exists in this book, but it was a mild flavoring to the story.

The character of Audrey Rose was delightful. She was smart, girly, and brainy at the same time. She lived within a society that thought women frail and weak of mind, and she proved them all wrong. I love female characters that can simultaneously kick ass and look like a princess.

The setting in this book was fantastic. I don’t know if it was historically accurate, but it felt real, which is what matters. It had immersion within its world-building. I love me some Victorian England, so Stalking Jack the Ripper was right up my alley.

There might have been a bit too much world-building in some places, however I was too engrossed to find any.

This book is also a mystery. While I loved the twisty plot, I guessed the identity of Jack the Ripper within the first few chapters. (I won’t spoil, but I was totally right.) However, despite my initial guess, the plot kept me from being 100% sure of that guess. There was always a little bit of doubt in the back of my mind. I loved that sense of “well, maybe…” that followed me from page to page, from evidence to speculation.

My only beef comes from the writing. There were times when Audrey’s narration would interrupt, and when the scene continued, I felt a bit lost – it was intrusive. The story and narration didn’t flow as seamlessly as I would like. There were scenes where I wanted to know less and scenes were I wanted to know more.

So, overall, Stalking Jack the Ripper gets a 5 out of 5 for its amazing world-building and setting, characters, and plot.

 

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