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 father’s stern 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.
AUTHOR: Kerri Maniscalco
WARNING: murder, death, with gruesome imagery featured
Stalking Jack the Ripper follows Audrey Rose Wadsworth, lady by day and murder mystery aficionado by night, as she investigates a series of murders occurring in London in 1888. Kerri Maniscalco’s debut novel places a YA twist on one of the world’s most notorious murderers.
‘Fear is a hungry beast. The more you feed it, the more it grows.’
You may refer to me only as Sherlock now. Less than halfway through the book I correctly predicted the identity of The Ripper. Maybe I missed my calling as a detective or perhaps this book was simply predictable. Either way, despite predicting the identity early on, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. Stalking Jack the Ripper is not a story that’s going to blow your socks off. It has all the classic elements we know and love in a YA novel, but it is a thoroughly interesting and entertaining read.
Audrey Rose is a breath of fresh air. She wears dresses and has a strong interest in science. Get yourself a girl who can do both! I loved her spunk and her bravery and her confidence, especially in an era that treated women as second-class citizens. Audrey Rose refuses to back down for what she believes wholeheartedly in and refuses to let society change her into what they expect of women. Who says you can’t cut open a body with perfectly coiffed hair? If you love a strong, independent, intelligent, couldn’t-give-a-fuck-what-anyone-thinks character then you’re gonna love Audrey Rose just as much as I do.
‘I was determined to be both pretty and fierce, as Mother had said I could be. Just because I was interested in a man’s job didn’t mean I had to give up being girly. Who defined those roles anyhow?’
It wouldn’t be a YA novel if it didn’t feature an irritatingly handsome and arrogantly intelligent love interest. At first, Thomas Cresswell appears to be nothing more than an insufferable know-it-all who delights in making women feel small and incompetent. As the book progresses, you find that Thomas Cresswell is, in fact, an insufferable know-it-all who… actually respects Audrey Rose and works alongside her, complementing her discoveries, and actually treating her like a human being rather than some silly woman who belongs in the home rather than a mortuary. I find romances in YA to be hit or miss but I did not dislike the romantic spark between Audrey Rose and Thomas.
If you don’t have a cast-iron stomach and aren’t fond of gruesome content then this might not be the book for you. There are very detailed descriptions of murders and autopsies. Be prepared to see graphic imagery dotted throughout if you own the hardcover (I’m not aware if these images are in any other edition of the book). If you love crime shows, such as Criminal Minds or How to Get Away with Murder, then you’ll love this book. It takes some of the elements that make those shows amazing and places it in a YA setting. The descriptions were so vivid I could perfectly imagine what it would look like if it were a TV show. As long as you’re okay with a bit of gore, you’ll be fine with this book.
‘Roses have both petals and thorns, my dark flower. You needn’t believe something weak because it appears delicate. Show the world your bravery.’
My complaints with this book are both its predictability and The Ripper. While the book is based on the murders and is gearing up for a big reveal at the end of The Ripper’s identity, the book is less about The Ripper and more about Audrey Rose’s journey, so while I was thoroughly underwhelmed by The Ripper’s identity, I couldn’t bring myself to rate this book lower than four stars due to this reason. As I’ve mentioned many times already, this book is YA and, while I would have liked a darker and grittier story for a notorious figure such as The Ripper, as a YA book Maniscalco wrote an intriguing, gotta-keep-reading story that took the most infamous murderer in a direction that made you believe this could have happened.
Predictable and underwhelming in areas but thoroughly entertaining in others, Stalking Jack the Ripper is a solid debut that if you enjoy snarky characters and a good whodunit then you’ll want to pick this book up.
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