Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

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Title: Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper #1)
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Release Date: September 20, 2016
Publisher: jimmy patterson
Pages: 336
Source: ARC provided by Hachette Book Group Canada
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Overall:  2.5 STARS

Presented by James Patterson's new children's imprint, this deliciously creepy horror novel has a storyline inspired by the Ripper murders and an unexpected, blood-chilling conclusion...

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.

Kerri Maniscalco's Stalking Jack the Ripper is one of those books where I got really excited about its release, yet once it was actually in my hands, I hesitated to start it. It's been sitting on my bookshelf for months since then, but I finally picked it up the other night, in the mood for something historical to read. And maybe a part of me understood why I didn't need to read it right away because Stalking Jack the Ripper ended up disappointing me...

Audrey Rose Wadsworth has a very unusual interest for a girl who's the daughter of a wealthy lord: she loves to study forensic science. Against her father's wishes, Audrey often slips away to her uncle's laboratory to help him cut open cadavers and find the cause of death. But when an investigation into a grisly string of murders hits close to home, Audrey finds herself searching for clues and answers too.

I thought Stalking Jack the Ripper just tried too hard to impress me. It tried to offer a strong, independent heroine who defied social conventions. It tried to have dash of romance with someone who could appreciate her deviation from traditional gender roles. It tried to lead me astray from guessing the true culprit of the terrible murders. But none of it really worked.

I enjoyed the book's vivid and very gruesome descriptions of the crime scenes. Slit throats, missing organs, intestines exposed—it was macabre and very shocking. Audrey was really interested in studying the details and breaking down how the murders may have occurred. And by using techniques from the late Victorian period, which is when the novel is set, it just made the story all the more believable.

But the farther I progressed in reading Stalking Jack the Ripper, the more I became frustrated with Audrey. How could someone so smart be so utterly stupid? Jack the Ripper has made London his hunting ground and Audrey has the bright idea to walk the streets at night all alone! That's not being brave and independentit's just reckless and lacking common sense. And if Audrey is a highborn lady, isn't some sort of maid or footman always supposed to accompany her?

And I thought it was kind of annoying that Audrey felt it necessary to repeat that she liked pretty dresses just like other girls and not just cutting open cadavers to study them, an interest that would've only been acceptable for men back then. Was it an attempt to make her more likeable? More feminist? Because that effort was kind of ruined when Audrey has tea with her cousin's friends a couple chapters later and then thinks they're empty airheads just because they like to gossip. Audrey could be so condescending at times.

The romance in Stalking Jack the Ripper didn't exactly make me swoon either. It was really nice that Thomas just happened to be Audrey's uncle's brilliant student, someone who shared her passion for forensic science. He was really flirty and forward, not really caring for propriety. He kind of reminded me of Sherlock Holmes, able to deduce information from details no else would've normally noticed. But I dunno, I just didn't really feel any strong chemistry between them, even when they inevitably kissed.

I had really hoped I'd fall in love with Kerri Maniscalco's YA debut Stalking Jack the Ripper, but it just didn't quite meet my expectations. I guess once my mind is made up that I'm not a fan of the main characters, I just find it harder to enjoy a novel since I start seeing flaws. Audrey and Thomas acted a little too modern for my taste. And even though my suspicion about who was Jack the Ripper turned out to be right, there were still some twists that took me aback! Considering just how much I enjoyed the mystery/horror aspects, I might still consider reading the sequel, Hunting Prince Dracula, this fall.

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