Today, I’m reviewing a book that I was lucky enough to receive an Advanced Reader Copy of by the Publicity Department over at Little Brown Books (Jimmy Patterson), in exchange for an honest book review of it on my blog; the book will be released officially on September 20th, 2016. I also have included Affiliate Links, which are shown with an * (asterisks) All opinions are my own, but if you want to see more on my policies and disclosures, see my page here!
Stalking Jack The Ripper
“I was determined to be both pretty and fierce, as Mother said I could be.”
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Themes: Mystery, murder/serial killers, historical retellings, romance, science
Publisher: Little Brown Books (Jimmy Patterson Imprint)
Days I took to Read: 5
ABOUT THE BOOK
Audrey Rose Wadsworth, the daughter of a lord and a young lady in Victorian London society, cannot seem to fill her days with mindless courting, fashion, and womanly duties, as other young ladies her age do.
Instead, she finds herself constantly surrounded by death, illness, and madness, and more than a few cadavers on her table.
As a hidden apprentice to her uncle, a forensic scientist and professor, she comes face to face with the gruesome murders in Whitechapel, later known as the acts of Jack the Ripper. With a young and highly irritating man named Thomas by her side, she must find an answer to these horrible events, lest she become his next victim.
When I was first digging for upcoming books to contact publishers about, I became enthralled about this one, for many reasons. First, I love historical fiction and I absolutely adore Jack the Ripper history and conspiracies, so it seemed like this book was right up my alley. Second, it was the first book published both by Kerri Maniscalco as well as under James Patterson’s new children’s/YA imprint within Little Brown Books, Jimmy Patterson. I love being able to support new authors and I thought jumping on this incredible opportunity would be a priceless one for the blog.
That being said, I kind of went into this book with extremely high hopes as well as very little time on my hands (I technically read it over about a week and not five days, but because of work taking up so much of my time and the fact that I didn’t even read some days, I shifted that around), and I think that was bound to leave me the tiniest bit disappointed in the end. But again, that might have been my own fault.
I think I only had two issues with the book, which are kind of big issues, but it makes it a little easier to swallow. For one, I thought the ending was totally out of the blue. Sure, it’s a great twist, but without spoiling anything, it really didn’t seem… realistic for that conclusion to happen (trying to be super vague here!). Then, I had a problem with how the main character was handled. I felt she was written so strongly, and I was rooting for her so much; she had so much potential! However, when the “who-done-it” ending rolled around, another character kind of ended up stealing a lot of her thunder. I just think there could have been a way to shift things around so that she could have come to the final conclusion, but as far as the rest of the book goes, those parts are easily overlooked, really. However, this is the reason I’m rating it three stars and not four or five (though if I had made 3.5 star graphics, I think that’s what I would rate it instead).
The writing style, however, won over my heart for it. Maniscalco’s sentences and fluidity are an amazing combination of both the gorgeous prose and snarky Victorian banter make for one incredible novel and a ton of well-loved characters. This was actually one of the first non-school books I *gasp* wrote in and dog-eared (as inspired by Ariel Bissett on Youtube), because there were so many instances of writing that I just couldn’t let myself forget or look past when I dove into the book again. I’m sure when I’m not struggling for time or reading through work, I’ll be able to go back and find even more gems, but here’s one of the sentences that I just fawned over…
“My body finally shook itself free of shock, chills dipped their fingertips into buckets of ice, then darted wildly over my back.”
Like that is some incredible sentence work there, Ms. Maniscalco. Instead of just saying “I got chills”, she uses this long and descriptive sentence to add multiple senses and imagery into her page picture, and it carries through perfectly. So if you like writing like this, you’ll pretty much love the whole thing because the book is stock-full of this stuff.
Plus, the writer was pretty close to historical truth when including details about the real Jack the Ripper. She even was able to include the Ripper letters, which were really published in newspapers during the period of the murders. How cool is that?!
I’ll definitely be re-reading this one again, now that I know how it ends — I’ll be looking for more writing clues and foreshadowing, so maybe the twist won’t hit me as hard and I can enjoy it more!