CW’s: Gore (Organs, Corpses), Violence, Murder
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, #1 New York Times bestselling debut from author Kerri Maniscalco impossible to forget.
“I promise. I’ll be as silent as the dead.”
“Ah,” Uncle said, putting a hat on and tugging it low, “the dead speak to those who listen. Be quieter than even them.”
4 Things you will find in Stalking Jack the Ripper
1. Fierce, Feminist Protagonist who defies society’s norms by dissecting corpses 🔪 It was very easy to love Audrey Rose Wadsworth, because she is a girl with a more modern stance trapped in sexist Victorian London ruled by old men. Despite being told constantly what she can and cannot do, what she should and should not be, Audrey endures and tries to go after her interests. That being science and medicine, something ‘unladylike’ for her times, especially as she practices dissecting corpses at her Uncle’s. I loved how dedicated and fierce Audrey Rose was, she was not content to be pushed around and tried to fulfill her dream of a life and not what everyone else expected her to be. She is fierce and ready to defend and take care of herself – Audrey is truly a free spirit in a world that likes to see women in cages and chains. However, I loved that we saw a more vulnerable side of her as well and saw that she was not ready for a fight all the time and would choose her battles wisely. She made mistakes and broke down from time to time too.
Side Note: I had no idea Audrey Rose was actually of Indian descent (her grandmother was from India), because I saw barely anyone mention it. I certainly cannot speak on that representation, though I noted that there was not a lot of rep anyway. Audrey only mentions her grandmother a few times. Given the historical circumstances I also felt it strange that Audrey’s heritage didn’t really have any impact on her life.
“Mother used to say, “Roses have both petals and thorns, my dark flower. You needn’t believe something weak because it appears delicate. Show the world your bravery.”
Great Feminist Quotes
- “I was determined to be both pretty and fierce, as Mother had said I could be. Just because I was interested in a man’s job didn’t mean I had to give up being girly. Who defined those roles anyhow?”
- “Wield your assets like a blade, Cousin. No man has invented a corset for our brains. Let them think they rule the world. It’s a queen who sits on that throne. Never forget that.”
- “I needed no man to empower me. I had my father to thank for that much; his absence in most everyday things had prepared me well enough to stand on my own.”
- “Where in a medical dictionary does it say a woman cannot handle such things? What is a man’s soul made of that a woman’s is not? I had no idea my innards were composed of cotton and kittens, while yours are filled with steel and steam-driven parts.”
- “Those who deserve respect are given it freely. If one must demand such a thing, he’ll never truly command it.”
2. Annoyingly charming yet arrogant Love Interest practiced in the art of deduction 🔪 Not going to lie, I wasn’t sure if I would end up liking Thomas Cresswell, because he could either be the likable or unlikable arrogant asshole. It took me some time to get used to his blunt and often shameless behavior, but when I did Thomas really grew on me. Throughout the book we see him open up a bit and get a glimpse of a more vulnerable side of his. While he still remains his carefree, sarcastic and daring self, I liked seeing a lot of different sides to him. Thomas also reminded me a bit of Sherlock Holmes with all the deduction and know-it-all vibe he gave off all the time. He is certainly good at detaching himself from a situation and analysing every last detail. Thomas is also not shy to acknowledge his own intelligence, which comes across terribly arrogant most of the time. Still I could not help but like how we saw him caring about Audrey Rose and being challenged by her as well.
“He reminded me of the caterpillar from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, sitting upon his giant mushroom, lazing about without a care in the world. If only he were small enough to squish beneath my boots.”
3. Slowburn Hate to Love at its finest 🔪 Since it took me a while to grow fond of Thomas I was only slowly getting invested in the romance. A thing I really liked however, was that it didn’t strike me at insta-love, but was refreshingly slow burn despite all the banter and teasing. Audrey fancied him from the very beginning and was very attracted to him but she never made any huge declarations of love after just a few days. That’s something that I really appreciated. Instead we saw them turn from pretty much teasing and lowkey hating each other to becoming partners. I loved that they were working together at equals and that Audrey Rose was always challenging them. In a way they fit perfectly together, as Thomas does need someone to pull him off his high horse and spar mentally with him. Slowly we also saw Thomas caring about her and being there for her without trying to control Audrey like so many other men in her life. While he is certainly absorbed with himself a bit, Thomas didn’t think Audrey inferior at any time.
“If I don’t murder you this afternoon, it’ll be a gift sent directly from God Himself, and I vow to attend services again,” I said, holding a hand against my heart.
“I knew I’d get you to church eventually.”
What I loved most about their romance might be all the witty banter … and there was lots of it. So many I ran out of pink (romance) and orange (humor) sticky notes. I simply could not help but chuckle at some of their interactions, even though Thomas could be a bit too daring and annoying at a few times. I’m definitely interested to see where their relationship will lead in the next book and I truly hope that there won’t be any petty miscommunication or love triangle or whatnot in book 2.
“Why don’t you talk to me about what’s really troubling you? What emotional dilemma needs sorting out?” He patted his legs. “Sit here and I’ll rock you gently until you or I or both fall asleep.”
4. MURDER, organs, corpses and lots of Jack the Ripper 🔪 I was obviously excited for the entire premise of the book: Victorian London and Jack the Ripper. I have been working on a Ripper Retelling WIP as well so I was more than excited to finally read this book. Don’t ask me how accurate any of the historical facts are though, I didn’t research that yet and enjoyed the book knowing it would not be 100% accurate of course. Still I immensely enjoyed seeing Victorian London and how the society back then was. As I already mentioned we see Audrey Rose challenging the rules of society and I really liked that. But I have to mention here that I was a bit disappointed by the lack of other significant female characters. Her cousin Liza is only in the book very shortly and while I adored their interactions and friendship, I would have wished for more. I certainly hope Audrey gets another female friend in book 2. Focusing so much on her personal rebellion against society might be great, but I was missing the focus on other women. Another thing that was interesting to see was how science worked back then and seeing Audrey’s knowledge of the human body. It made me gulp a few times (I’m a really squeamish person), but the gore and violence described wasn’t enough to push past my limits.
“Monsters were supposed to be scary and ugly. They weren’t supposed to hide behind friendly smiles and well-trimmed hair. Goodness, twisted as it might be, was not meant to be locked away in an icy heart and anxious exterior.”
IN CONCLUSION: Stalking Jack the Ripper was a fun, engaging read with a fierce female protagonist proving herself in Victorian London. I loved the mystery around Jack the Ripper as it had been a buzzword drawing me to the book. I couldn’t help but grow fond of Thomas Cresswell and the romance as well! I’m definitely looking forward to reading more about them!
Have you read Stalking Jack the Ripper? What is your fave book with set in historical London? 🔪