ARC Review: Stalking Jack the Ripper1:08:00 PM
Genre: Historical fiction, Mystery, Horror, Victorian Steampunk
Pub date: Sept. 20, 2016 by Jimmy Patterson Books
Rating: ★★★★1/2 4.5/5 Stars
I received this advanced copy from Jimmy Patterson Books in exchange for my honest review.
Summary (From Goodreads): 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.
I can't begin to express my love for period drama, especially when it's the Victorian era. Toss in my one of my top favorite genres (horror) and absolutely tangible and electrifying romance, topped off with the world's most famous cold case... And you've got Stalking Jack the Ripper.
The story is rife with tangible details and a unique voice. The characters were absolutely delightful and never fell flat. I likened myself to Audrey Rose quite often because I can relate to enjoying things like makeup and cute clothes, while simultaneously having an insatiable curiosity for the strange, morbid, and unusual.
The story starts off with a bang and doesn't stop until the very end. If you can't stomach gore or vivid descriptions of blood and macabre situations involving autopsies, medical jargon, and mutilated corpses.… this might not be the book for you. While it is never of intensely morbid or shocking intent, it can still get pretty intense. The very first scene of the book where we meet our heroine Audrey Rose involves our leading lady getting elbow-deep into a cadaver to pluck out vital organs and deduce cause of death. From there, with the help of her beloved brother covering for her as she goes behind her germaphobic father's back, Audrey defies the strict rules of society to apprentice under her uncle and learn the medical sciences behind autopsy inspection, trading her embroidery needle and hoop for a suture kit and scalpel. In a time where disease and infection are deadly and women are shackled to strict societal rules and roles, it's exhilarating to read a heroine that embraces both her feminine side and her more rebellious and curious scientific side.
A popular trope seems to be that young women can be either strong and sharp, or elegant and dainty, but never both. I love that Kerri shattered those expectations in full by creating a character so well-balanced when it came to her scientific interests and unladylike actions, as well as her inclination toward her high class upbringing and participation in tea parties and dress shopping. Because of this we see a slightly uncommon female heroine, who is all the more realistic and relatable as a result. The blunt snarkiness and outright sarcasm of Thomas Cresswell was refreshing and oh-so-adorable watching our two heroes bicker and banter. You could tell their feelings for one another were palpable, and watching their romance develop unbeknownst to them was a classic Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett case of will-they-or-won't-they.
The plot was a steady climb to an astonishing peak, with plenty of twists and turns along the way. The further into the plot you get, the more involved you become with the characters, the more intrigued you are by the mystery, and the more eager you are to discover who the killer is. Plenty of red herrings and unexpected twists keep you on your toes and every theory you have will be turned on its head at one point or another. You won't know who to trust, you'll be questioning your own instincts, and you won't even be halfway through yet. The world of Victorian England is so easy to fall into whether you're new to the era or a longtime reader of historical fiction. I'm so pleasantly surprised that a novel this well-developed is a debut.
This won't be the last of Stalking Jack that you'll hear from me! As a Knight of Whitechapel, the SJTR street team, I'll be posting a special feature on September 10th as part of the blog tour!