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.
I think I enjoyed this book. I gave it 4/5 on Goodreads, but I would imagine it’s more like 3.5/5. That isn’t saying I didn’t enjoy it, because I did, but I think there’s a fair bit I want to discuss!
Firstly, let’s start with the character of Audrey Rose. Aside from the fact that I was convinced the whole way through that she was going to die, I thought she was a very good, strong character. I did think that sometimes she was a little brash and wondered if that that really fit into the time, but on the other hand? Brash women get shit done, and Audrey Rose definitely got shit done. She was so clever, and witty, and I really admired that in her as a character. This is a strong female character well done, people.
Thomas Cresswell – *gasp* although he kind of grew on me, I actually didn’t like him that much. (Might’ve had something to do with the fact I was convinced he was the Ripper.) I thought he was too forward when Audrey clearly wasn’t interested (at least at the start). Thinking about their romance (uh, if you’re concerned about spoilers – it’s basically apparent from when they first meet. #SorryNotSorry), whilst I LOVED the whole hate-to-love thing, and thought it was done very well, two things: 1) I thought it was a little one-sided, with Thomas liking Audrey more than her liking him. He seemed to go above and beyond for her and she was like, “Yeah? And?” ALSO 2) I felt like I had missed a scene. Somehow, they went from not admitting their attraction to EVERYONE KNOWING THAT THEY ARE DEEPLY IN LOVE and I don’t know, some sort of romantic scene felt missing. Anyone else?
Let’s talk about feminism (*distant cheers*). I did not expect this book to be as feminist-centric as it was. AUDREY WAS THE BEST. She was so feminist, and way before her time (sadly). I got SO ANGRY reading certain passages of this book that I was literally shaking. However, the feminist movement was beginning to come into force properly (this was set late 1880s (obviously the right to vote was 1912, for example)) so it did fit very well. Audrey Rose would definitely be a Suffragette.
“Wield your assets like a blade, Cousin. No man has invented a corset for our brains.”
Of course, we have to talk about the namesake of the book: Jack the Ripper. Jack the Ripper is a… historical character, I am going to say (although of course he was a real person). He is utterly terrifying, and yet very compelling to read about. Not to give anything away, but I do think that Kerri makes a very good fictional theory about who Ripper may have been, and why he killed.
I think one thing that kind of annoyed me about the way of writing was, learning in the author’s note, that there were many historical inaccuracies. Some I could get, like removing suspect John Pizer from the novel, but then there were others – for example, the term Leather Apron used to call Jack was first used in the papers on Sep 4th. But in this novel it was used… 4 days earlier, August 31st. Why? I could see no real reason. However, sometimes an author just does what’s best for them. For me personally, historical accuracy is incredibly important, but so is a good story, so perhaps that’s why Maniscalco chose to do what she did. To be honest, it doesn’t affect the rest of the story, and it hasn’t affected my rating of the novel as a whole.
The scientific accuracy was something that I greatly admired – this novel had clearly been well-researched. I didn’t particularly enjoy reading about the postmortems, but I understood that they were accurate and really appreciated this. This particular decade saw so many movements forward in science that I felt it was reflected really well in the book.
One thing I didn’t really get was that on the back cover of the dust jacket are the words: “I was the girl who loved the Ripper.” Okay, so this is great marketing, right? I would pick up a book if it said that. But the fact is… there were only four men it could have possibly been. I only read the dust jacket when I was halfway through the novel, so I basically already knew who Maniscalco’s Ripper was before the ending. That’s a real niggle, and I don’t think it was necessary, because the marketing team has clearly sold the book well enough without this on the back.
Having said all of that, I still did really enjoy the novel. I’ve heard that Maniscalco’s next book is about Vlad the Impaler, which I think will be really interesting and I can’t wait to read about it – I hope that her characters are as great that time around, too (EDIT: I have discovered that it is Audrey Rose reappearing! I was hoping for new characters, but I think that Audrey will still be a great one to read about. I look forward to seeing her progress). The setting was wonderful, the history was brilliant, and I loved the plot. There were some drawbacks which I have addressed, but other than that? I totally recommend this novel.
TITLE: Stalking Jack the Ripper
AUTHOR: Kerri Maniscalco
GENRE: YA Thriller
PUBLISHER//YEAR OF PUBLICATION: Jimmy Patterson // 2016
NUMBER OF PAGES: 326
PERSONAL SOURCE: Bought from Wordery