Monday, September 5, 2016

ARC Review: Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Title: Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper #1)
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Publication Date: September 20th, 2016
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Pages: 336
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Reviews for book 2 & book 3

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.

When I stumbled upon Stalking Jack the Ripper at ALA earlier this year, I really had no idea what it was. I saw that it was presented by James Patterson and I thought it sounded interesting enough, even if mystery isn't my favorite genre. When I got home and realized it was a highly anticipated September YA release I was really excited to get to read it! To be honest, I kind of wish I had never gotten on board the hype train because this didn't live up to my high expectations.

The main character of this story is Audrey Rose, a girl who is more interested in dissecting corpses than attending tea parties, much to her family's dismay. She is not a bad character, but for some reason I just could not connect with Audrey quite as much as I wish had. I did feel like the author did a great job of showing her as a product of her time, while also making her strong and independent. The main issue I had with Audrey Rose is that she tries so hard to show how independent she is that she is actually reckless on a regular basis. I love strong female characters, but I have a really hard time with foolish ones and that is how she came off on a couple occasions, which was pointed out by other characters.

I absolutely loved Thomas, the Sherlockian love interest. I found him to be charmingly awkward and perhaps a little clueless at times, while also being totally brilliant. I did enjoy their romance although I wish it had been touched on a little more instead of the constant bickering and creeping around to spy on each other. The author has said that there will be more of a focus on romance in future books, so we have that to look forward to! Audrey's uncle, brother, and father were also interesting characters who I always wanted to know more about and never quite felt like I could get a good read on.

One of the things I really enjoyed about this book was the feeling that I was never 100% sure who the big bad was. There were times I was pretty sure (and I was actually right in the end after a wrong guess early on) but I was never sure enough to tell anyone else what my hunch was! That's how good the mystery is written! The reveal of who Jack the Ripper actually was fun, inasmuch as I finally got to see if I was right! Unfortunately, the way the reveal was actually, well, revealed was kind of a let down. The action was not quite enough to hold my attention and everything, including the twist, just kind of came at a snail's pace, not enough to get me really excited about any of it.

I will give it to Kerri - she knows how to create a world and an atmosphere that feels both historical and unsettling. Although I had issues with other parts of the book, the world building was phenomenal! The addition of old photos (some gruesome, some strange, and some not-so-strange) made things interesting and helped to set the mood. I will say that based on the hype I've been hearing, I expected this book to be much more creepy. Maybe I've been desensitized by the number of horror books I've read but, while I did feel a little uneasy at times, I never felt truly creeped out.

Overall this book was just okay for me. I think if I hadn't gone in expecting to be totally blown away by an incredibly creepy mystery, I may have enjoyed it a little more. I felt like Stalking Jack the Ripper was a decent mystery with an interesting historical setting. I feel bad for not loving this one as much as everyone else seems to, but I came away feeling pretty "meh" about the whole experience. I would definitely recommend this for mystery fans though because it did keep me guessing!