Alright, readers. I’m going to be straight with you…I really wanted to love this book. My friend lent it to me, and she loves it, and while I totally understand why other people would be in to the read, it didn’t quite hit the mark for me.
Stalking Jack the Ripper follows Audrey-Rose Wadsworth, daughter of a lord, feminist, and weirdly into looking at corpses with her Uncle and dissecting them in the name of science. Set on the gloomy streets of London in the late 1800s, when Jack the Ripper was roaming the streets and terrorising women, the story follows Audrey-Rose as she and her frenemy/companion Thomas Creswell try to solve the unsolvable mystery…’Who is Jack the Ripper?’
So I’ll start with the parts I didn’t like, because that will let me end on a positive note. Basically, in a nutshell, AUDREY ROSE IS SO GODDAMN ANNOYING. At least, she is for a good portion of the book’s beginning and it really just soured the book for me. Lady, I get it! Thomas is annoying and obnoxious, he’s arrogant and infuriating, oh but also he’s attractive and you love him? Argh! I’m sorry but I am not a huge fan of this kind of trope to begin with, and mixed in with how many times she repeats it in the space of a few pages I was almost ready to throw the book across the room. My eyes rolled so hard they nearly left my head.
But then, quite surprisingly, I found myself enjoying the book in spite of Audrey Rose’s character. I’m not sure if I just got used to it, or if it dawned on Maniscalco partway through the book that readers don’t need an idea shoved down their throat quite as hard, or if it was just the plot slowly building and drawing you in with the intrigue. Regardless, by the final quarter of the book I found myself picking it up more and more wanting to find out what would happen next, if my guesses at who Jack was were correct, and goddammit if I didn’t want to know what happened with Audrey Rose and Cresswell (curse this romantic heart).
This book won’t be one I’d pick up again in a hurry, but once you got past all the “Thomas is so irritating but so handsome” sap, and speed through the way-too-overt “I’m a LADY and even though I dissect people and look at their insides for fun I can still enjoy lacy dresses okay?!” outbursts from Audrey Rose, it is a fairly enjoyable read. Let’s be clear, I’m all about the feminist life, women can do whatever the f*ck they want however the f*ck they want, but the way it was written in this book kind of made me feel like my intelligence was being insulted.
To balance out my ranting above, I will say this for Maniscalco. The depiction of London in this book and the way the scenes were set were pretty stellar. I read much of this book while in a small town in the mountains with not many folks around, and the night scenes on the London streets while Jack was on the loose were well-written enough to make me want to read in daylight. And, though I may not have loved her characterisation of the protagonist, the cast were well written and I feel like the balance between giving us enough information as readers to make guesses at who Jack was, while not making it obvious or giving too much away, was very well struck.
So, I’m not too much of a negative Nancy after all 😉
Rating: I’d probably recommend this for a YA audience who don’t mind a bit of ridiculous crushin’-on-boys chat, especially if you’re looking for a holiday read that balances that romance side with a dose of mystery and gore.
I know there’s plenty of people out there who loved this read, so maybe it just wasn’t for me. If you’ve read Stalking Jack the Ripper, I’d love to know what you thought of it (good or bad!) in the comments below 🙂
P.S Sorry Bec, I still love you and trust your taste in books.