Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper #1)
Author: Kerri Maniscalo
Publication: September 20th, 2016
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Format: e-ARC, 336 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Thriller
Read: August 2016
I received an e-ARC of this book from Jimmy Patterson and Little Brown via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
Presented by James Patterson’s new children’s imprint, this deliciously creepy horror novel has a story line 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.
Plot – 3 out of 5 stars
I was so disappointed by this book. It was boring and slow. I honestly found nothing really suspenseful or exciting about the plot. Most of the plot twists are easy to figure out. There were various graphic scenes that were creepy but not necessarily scary or intense. They were mostly entertaining and interesting to read about. The romance was unbelievable and had the feel of instalove. However, I really liked the connection the plot made with the real life events as well as the old pictures that were sometimes incorporated between chapters.
Writing Style – 2 out of 5 stars
This is probably my biggest problem of the whole book. I like my historical fiction novels to feel authentic and the writing style in this book was way too modern to feel real. And then there were moments, when it was like it realized how modern it was so there were strange flowery lines added to the language that made no sense to the writing as whole. It was graphic which I appreciated and I loved the photos from that time period that were added between chapters. But the writing jumped all over the place and there was too much tell and not enough showing.
Characters – 3 out of 5 stars
I was extremely frustrated and easily annoyed by the characters in this book, specially the main character. Audrey Rose, I don’t know why it has to be both names every time, is a strange sort of girl and yes it’s on purpose. She has a deep interest in science and forensics which is actually quite cool. However she has a stubborn streak and not the kind that makes me admire her, but the kind that pushes her to make stupid decisions that annoy me to no end. She was specially frustrating in the beginning of the book as while she’s supposedly helping to find a serial killer, she had a tendency to be distracted by other things. However towards the end of the book, she gets better and she learns to stand up for herself in a way that doesn’t make her sound petulant or naive. There is also a male main character that was charming and arrogant with some sweet moments. However, he could easily become condescending and annoying, specially with the way he tended to treat Audrey Rose and their relationship wasn’t something I was a big fan of. The side characters were complex and flawed but their personalities felt completely exaggerated and unnecessarily over the top. I wanted to be entranced by them and pulled into the craziness but everything was just, meh. Honestly, I feel like my biggest problem with the characters is that I don’t think the writing did them justice.
I was so excited to read this book, not only because it’s the first ARC I received from Edelweiss but also because the hype for this book is insane. Yet, I can say that this is one of my biggest disappointments of the year.
The plot is boring to be honest. We follow Audrey Rose, the daughter of a lord who becomes interested in death and forensic science after witnessing her mother’s death. When mutilated women start popping up around London, she’s determined to help find the serial killer responsible. Maybe it’s because I’ve read other historical fiction murder mysteries that I enjoyed more (like These Shallow Graves, one of my favorites), but I found this book to be really boring. There was no tension, no suspense, not even mystery! It wasn’t that the author didn’t try to create it but there was just a huge disconnection between what was happening and what I was supposed to feel. Even the graphic forensic scenes and the depictions of the murders didn’t really bring up any emotions in me which is something that I want when I’m reading a book of this kind. I need to feel scared or worried or a least a little bit freaked out by what’s going on but it was all just meh. The plot was predictable and I found it quite easy to figure out the plot twist which was disappointing. I think it all comes down to the writing style, that screwed up the rest of the story for me. It was too modern which disconnected me from the narrative. It jumped too much between thoughts and what was happening in the story, from past to present in a disjointed way. And it made the main character sound shallow and disturbed and sometimes even self-centered all at the same time. It was incredibly frustrating because I knew it could’ve been so much better.
Audrey Rose annoyed me at first. Not only her name because it’s an unnecessary mouthful, specially since the rest of the way the world speaks was way more modern or extremely flowery. She was trying too hard to be both girly and interested in death while being independent. She spent more time being stalked by Jack the Ripper than actually stalking him. Again, I feel like that was a problem because of the writing. There is literally a sentence that says something along the lines of “even if I enjoyed science doesn’t mean I can’t wear pretty dresses.” And I’m over here like you don’t need to tell me! That’s totally valid, just show it to me instead, don’t spell it out! It made me roll my eyes constantly. However, towards the end of the book she became more determined and conscious of what she was trying to do and she stood up to the men in her life. I’m glad she had that growth and development but it took a little too long for my taste.
I wanted to talk a little bit about the side characters. Thomas is pretty significant side character since he becomes the love interest in the story and spends a lot of time with Audrey Rose. And he felt extremely stereotypical. He was your typical YA love interest. He was written very charming and arrogant but in a way that the main character is interested. I liked his personality in general but I felt like I only got to know him in regards to Audrey Rose. He couldn’t stand as a complex character on his own, it was their relationship that took the focus. Which I did not enjoy. It was way too obvious and while it took awhile to develop on the page, the girl spent the entire time saying she hated him and how annoying she was only to swoon over his looks two seconds later. I mean, come on? Then, there are Audrey Rose’s family which were all in different kinds of crazy but I felt like it was too much on the surface. Their quirkiness and oddities weren’t delved into enough for me, it just felt convenient to make them all a little bit nuts.
Overall, I was super disappointed with this book. I was expecting to be engaged and surprised but that did not happen. The plot didn’t bring out any particular emotion out in me when I’m sure it’s supposed to be intense and creepy. The characters annoyed me and I felt like their potential wasn’t taken advantage of. The writing style was my biggest problem since it felt too modern for the story and it jumped all over the place. I will be continuing the series because even though I have a lot of complaints, I don’t hate it enough to discard it. I hope the next book is better.
So that’s for this review! Have you been anticipating this release? I am still so disappointed. If you’ve read this book, please let me know your thoughts in the comments! I really hope I’m not the only one. Thanks so much for reading and I’ll see you on my next post!