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 debut from author Kerri Maniscalco impossible to forget.
Description taken from Goodreads.
When I initially picked up this book, there were so many things that screamed red flag that I was certain I wouldn’t like it, but I was surprised in the best of ways. Every thing that was a red flag for me turned out to be a high point for Stalking Jack the Ripper, and that’s only the first show of how extraordinary this book this.
Red Flag #1: Victorian Setting
Yes, yes, I know. Sacrilege and all that. I just don’t have a thing for Victorian settings. I’ve read far more than my fair share of books with this setting, and somewhere in the journey, I got sick of them.
Stalking Jack the Ripper might just change that. The first thing I was struck by was how authentic the voice sounded without being told in third-person. Almost without fail, when I read a Victorian book in third person, a perfect storm comes together to make everything sound impersonal and contrived. Stalking Jack the Ripper sounded real while remaining true to the characters and giving us a good picture of who they are.
Furthermore, Maniscalco used her setting to her advantage every way that she could. I loved the way she used honorifics to signal the changes in the romance between Thomas and Audrey Rose, and I appreciated the small details that Maniscalco used without info-dumping.
In short, I fell in love with Victorian England again.
Red Flag #2: Plausibility
It’s no secret that Audrey-Rose is very headstrong, especially for her time period. I mean–she cuts up dead people behind her dad’s back! With her uncle! There’s a story there.
What I don’t love about these kinds of stories is that it never seems real. Sure, the girl is headstrong. Go her! I’m all for that, but not when it’s entirely unrealistic. Often times, the girl gets way too much leeway. I’ll admit, this does happen in Stalking Jack the Ripper. Most of the time, Audrey Rose relies upon the good graces of her germaphobe father in order to go out and do what she does.
However, I did love her character and the challenges she faced at every corner. It wasn’t just from her opposition, either. She faces struggles with her brother, her love interest, and even her uncle, and I loved the way that Maniscalco portrayed all of it.
Red Flag #3: Creepedy Creep
I thought that I wouldn’t be able to recommend this to younger YA readers because of the nature of the story, but I came to love it and believe I can recommend this. It is somewhat scary at times, but like Anna Dressed in Blood, it’s not necessarily about the scare factor.
Stalking Jack the Ripper is richly described and gloriously creepy, but it’s not by any means scary (or at least, it wasn’t to me). I was fascinated and drawn into the world that Maniscalco had created, and I felt like I was right there with Audrey Rose, who I came to really enjoy.
Red Flag #4: Title
I didn’t take the title seriously. Stalking? Are you for real? It sounded like one of those YA humor novels about obsessing over a celebrity, not that there’s anything wrong with those novels. I just didn’t think a title like that belonged on a serious mystery/historical novel.
Don’t be fooled by the title of this book like I was.
In Stalking Jack the Ripper, Audrey Rose takes you with her on her journey to find out just who Jack the Ripper is. Does she make mistakes? That would be a resounding yes. Is it exciting to go on her journey? That would be a resounding yes. Kerri developed her story well, even though the pacing fell through in places, and her clues were perfectly placed.
If you’re at all a fan of historical fiction or mysteries, I would recommend this one. This is a solid debut, and it surprised me in multiple ways. Kerry Maniscalco’s world-building, plot, and characters drew me in and made me stay despite my initial desire to have nothing to do with it. I’m so proud to be a part of the street team for this novel, and I will be recommending this one! Plus, the ending is EVERYTHING.
Stay tuned for my blog tour post for Stalking Jack the Ripper tomorrow!