Publisher: Little Brown Books
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Thriller, Mystery
Source: purchased copy
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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 by Kerri Maniscalco is a dark, gripping story that I never wanted to end. Needless to say, I’ve been having trouble keeping on top of my TBR lately with university taking over my life and all, so I’ve been super picky with my reads lately. If something doesn’t pull me in straight away, I set it aside to come back to sometime in the future when I have less essays to write and more time to read. That being said, it physically pained me to put down Stalking Jack the Ripper whenever I had to set it aside to get some work done. It was gripping from the very first page and even when I wasn’t reading it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
The story follows young Audrey Rose who secretly apprentices under her Uncle who’s a mortician, despite her father’s disapproval. In a time when girls were taught that the only place for them was the home and tea parties, Audrey is going against societal norms to pursue a gruesome side of science: cutting corpses open. She helps her Uncle conduct postmortems which is where she meets the arrogant but intelligent Thomas Cresswell
aka the new love of my life. Imagine a young, extremely flirty Sherlock and you have Thomas. The Sherlock to Audrey’s Watson. They make such a fantastic team and seeing them attempt to solve the Ripper’s murders together, not to mention the angsty banter and both romantic and sexual tension that fills the air whenever they’re in the same room. I ship them so hard. I could’ve done with a little more… intimacy though but I guess it was the Victorian era where it was improper to even be alone in a room with a guy, meh. (Edit: I just found out this is a trilogy so I’m 100% now okay with the slowburn).
Besides the characters, I have so many more things I loved about this book. The photos and the incorporation of things like an image of Jack the Ripper’s letter added such authenticity to the story and made it even darker. I never knew when I’d be flipping a page only to find something gruesome staring back at me. Kerri takes something that most of us find grossly fascinating (I mean, that explains why the Ripper case is so infamous) and gives us a sense of closure. We get to go on this mysteriously dark and thrilling adventure and we actually get answers at the end. I found myself rushing to finish so I could confirm my suspicions but feeling utterly conflicted because I also didn’t want it to end. As the victims started piling up and we were handed a bunch of suspects, I found myself pulling my Sherlock hat on, fully invested in the investigation.
One more thing I have to make very clear: I LOVE Audrey Rose. I really do. She has definitely joined my list of favourite MCs/protagonists, she’s fiesty and stubborn and brave in a time that teaches girls they need to be the complete opposite. Even when her father threatens to toss her out onto the streets, she continues to pursue science and stands up to him – which is one of my favourite scenes in the book.
Overall, I think I’ve found a new favourite book. I guessed the culprit before the big reveal but that didn’t matter a bit to me because I was doubting myself the entire time and the entire back story and plot was just magnificently done. I can’t wait to read more books by Kerri Maniscalco and I just found out that this is a trilogy rather than a standalone so I can’t wait!
Favourite quote: “Roses have both petals and thorns, my dark flower. You needn’t believe something weak because it appears delicate. Show the world your bravery.”