Series: Untitled #1
Written by: Kerri Maniscalco
Published: September 20, 2016 by Jimmy Patterson (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
(Amazon / Goodreads)
Synopsis: 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.
*** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher at BEA. This fact has not changed my opinion. ***
You probably know that was a book that I was seriously looking forward to. It's a totally me book and I've talked a few times about how this was, without a doubt, one of my most anticipated debuts of this year. And I am happy to report that I loved it! It was everything I was hoping it would be, a fantastic historical fiction book with a great mystery and engaging characters.
I'm a big fan of historical fiction and Victorian England is one of my absolute favorite time periods to read about, which is one of the reasons I was looking forward to reading this book. And the historical aspect here was totally fantastic. I love Victorian England because it's a time where strong female characters are starting to break out of their gender norms and societal expectations. It makes for a really great conflict and characterizations. And here that's what I got, but it was kind of subtle but I appreciated that. It explored some interesting themes about the changing society and the role for young women of means in that society, but it didn't go into a lot of depth. That wasn't the focus of the book, it was just one interesting facet.
No, the focus of this book and the historical fiction aspect was about Jack the Ripper. That was a huge part of the plot and setting of this book. I'm not super familiar with the actual Ripper murders but you can tell that the author is. She did her research into what happen to each of the victims and it's particularly gruesome sometimes. And the book and history was elevated by images from the time period including crime scene photos, anatomical diagrams, and letters written by the actual murder. It was another interesting layer to the story that helped immerse you in the time period and the story. Speaking of the story, the author also crafted a totally different reason as to how and why this particular Ripper did what they did. I usually enjoy this kind of historical fiction where actual events are used as the back drop for original people and events and I enjoyed that here for sure. It made for a great read.
However, the thing I do know about Jack the Ripper is that the actual murderer was never discovered so there was some wiggle room there. And that wiggle room then lead to a great mystery. That was one of my favorite parts of this book. Here the mystery is simple but solvable. I had a few potential suspects but it wasn't until the very end when it all unfolded that I was really able to figure it out. I hate when a mystery drags you along despite you knowing the answer, and that didn't happen here. There was a lot of suspense and doubt while at the same time there were clues unfolding. It kept me engaged and interested through the whole thing. And that to me is the mark of a good YA mystery.
As for the characters they likable and engaging, especially the main characters. They definitely have this whole Sherlock and Watson thing going on, which I surprisingly appreciated. I don't really love Sherlock but here having the Watson be our protagonist and using the hyper intelligent mystery solving sparingly helped. They were able to create charismatic characters who work together well and did a great job at solving mysteries. It's not something I typically enjoy but here is worked. And as far as the secondary characters go, with my uncertainty around who the murderer was it made for a fun blame game as I analyzed the characters which made me appreciate their complexities. All in all it all worked well together.
But a lot of things about this book worked. Stalking Jack the Ripper is a fast and engaging read. I didn't want to put it down, I breezed through it in a few days with a couple days of break in between and I honestly wish I could have read it in one sitting. It would have been easy to do that. It's a fantastic historical mystery and a great debut, maybe even my favorite debut of the year so far.
I give Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco 9.5 out of 10 stars
Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. Definitely buy this book. It's seriously fantastic. I would absolutely recommend this book to fans of historical mysteries or anyone looking for a quick YA read with a good mystery. Plus then you can start flailing with me about the prospect for the second book in this series. I was chatting with the author on Twitter and she shared her Pintrest board and it looks seriously fantastic. I cannot wait!
Have you read Stalking Jack the Ripper? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!