Sunday, January 7, 2018

Stalking Jack The Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco Review

Title: Stalking Jack The Ripper
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction/Horror
Series: Stalking Jack The Ripper, book one
Star Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

A book club buddy of mine recommended this book to me; at that point, she was almost finished with it and was curious about what I’d think. (You know who you are!) So, when I got home that night, I ordered it from the library. I pushed it to the top of the stack when I had the time, and I was really excited to get into it. Stalking Jack The Ripper was an oddly enticing, strangely contradictory whodunit that incorporates history, forensic science, and characters that I grew to love, almost against my will. True, it used some tropes that kind of annoyed me, and I have a lot of mixed feelings, but it wasn’t a bad book, regardless. I’m happy I read it and I’m curious about what comes next for Audrey Rose and Thomas Cresswell.

Audrey Rose is not like other girls of her age and station; she much prefers slicing cadavers open and helping her uncle conduct experiments in his grisly lab over tea parties and husband chasing. She longs to be a forensic scientist in the day and age that is, for the most part, dominated by men. When apprenticing to her eccentric, strange uncle leads her into the path of one of history’s most dangerous serial killers, she is forced to team up with one of her uncle’s colleagues, the infuriating, handsome, and mysterious Thomas Cresswell. The deeper that the pair digs into the secrets of the murderer, the more frightening and confusing things become, particularly for Audrey. When she realizes that the blackest evil may be lurking closer to home, she will be risking everything she knows and loves for justice.

As I said before, I have really mixed feelings about this book; there were some elements of the story that I really enjoyed, and others that really fell short or needed some editing. I’ll start with the things I liked: First of all, I’m an absolute sucker for historical fiction; it was what spurred my love of history and learning, seeing the past through a character’s eyes. As an ardent lover of true crime, also, I really enjoyed the way that the author took a brave stab at Jack The Ripper, an old case that was only recently closed. I liked the way the story was told in first person, with Audrey’s wry, passionate narrative moving the story along. The twists and turns of the novel had me guessing constantly, so much so that I didn’t know the identity of the suspect, even at the end! I didn’t like Thomas at first, but his chemistry with Audrey really won me over, when I got over his arrogance and condescension. Maybe it was that way with men in that day and age, but it still annoyed me through the beginning. The feminism was also confusing, at times, Audrey was contradictory and wasn’t making sense. Maniscalco also used tropes, that to me, personally, were kind of tired and overused, especially in recent young adult fare. Nonetheless, even with all of its flaws, this series opener was solid, and I can’t wait to see more of Audrey and Thomas’s adventures—this time in Romania, chasing—you guessed it—the infamous Lord Dracula! The bottom line: Though I have a lot of mixed feelings about Stalking Jack The Ripper, it was a solid, well-researched series opener, and I can’t wait to see what’s next! Next on deck: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard!

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