STALKING JACK THE RIPPER by Kerri Maniscalco is a super feminist historical fiction that takes place in 1888 when Jack the Ripper haunts London.
Spoilers will start after the short summary during the extended review:
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.
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Why I was interested: As I have always loved historical fiction books, this story has been on my TBR for some time. When I was offered an ARC copy of Maniscalco’s CAPTURING THE DEVIL, I decided it was the perfect time to binge-read the series and prepare for the finale. I am enjoying my “Binging the Ripper” read series and I hope others join in as Sept. 10 draws ever closer.
Side note: While I am being sent the ARC of the fourth book, I purchased the first three with my own funds at my local Barnes & Noble.
Judge a book by it’s cover: The cover combines both the historical setting and Audrey Rose’s fierceness in one smooth swoop. It’s eye catching and I personally love the emerald green.
What to expect: Audrey Rose is a fierce and feminist character that shines in the late-Victorian era. While being a simpler read, the story keeps you on the edge of your seat and the twist at the end is bold, brutal, and brilliant.
Why you should pick this book up: If you have ever been curious about STALKING JACK THE RIPPER, now is the best time to pick it up — once Sept. 10 hits you can binge-read the entire series and enjoy it in its full gory glory. As I was reading it, this story does make me think that anyone who enjoys listening to the podcasts Lore or even Serial will enjoy this book and series.
Want more?: If you have read STALKING JACK THE RIPPER, you can read the post containing spoilers below.
ATTENTION: IF YOU HAVE YET TO READ STALKING JACK THE RIPPER do not continue reading. The following contains spoilers for the book.
Immediately as you start reading, Audrey Rose is a character who jumps off the page. She is slicing open the body of a cadaver and cares more about doing it smoothly than if her satin shoes get stained with blood. This just the first instance of Audrey Rose marching to the beat of her own drum while so many of those around her just want her to blend in and be a proper upper-class lady of late-Victorian England.
We see into the life of one who would live in this era and yet see clearly through her POV that England (and honestly, the world) would much rather keep young girls away from science and higher levels of education and keep them close to casual gossip and marriage proposals. Audrey Rose, however, doesn’t understand why she can’t be a girl who is both fascinated with forensic science, a concept still growing at the time, and a lover of fashionable dresses. She is determined to be strong in more ways than one due to her deceased mother’s influence and we see that actively occurring throughout the story.
Her fight against Jack the Ripper is a fight for all women. As his sights are set on prostitutes, who Audrey Rose points out many times that they are in that situation due to the unfairness of 1880s England, she is determined to stop him and save the women from being his next victim.
Ironically as we follow the story, the amazing twist we learn that her brother, Nathaniel, is Jack the Ripper, and he blames the prostitutes for their mother’s death. He sees these women as “other” and as poison who give men disease to kill the “honorable” women like their mother. Besides the problem of assuming disease is solely spread by prostitutes, he doesn’t even acknowledge that the men are at fault for going to these women to begin with. He sees killing them as an act of God where he can justify his actions to bring back their mother by deeming these other women unworthy. It’s an alarming statement coming from a character we initially see as calm and caring — someone who Audrey Rose acknowledges to be more like their mother when she associates herself to be more like their father.
While everyone tries to keep the word and idea of prostitutes away from Audrey Rose due to her class standing, she is ultimately the one who acknowledges these women, their poor situations, and is determined to help them from becoming the next victim.
Audrey Rose is ultimately a great female character who fights for the women around her. I really enjoyed how clever Maniscalco was by bringing in the thread so deeply and honestly into this book, and I look forward to reading HUNTING PRINCE DRACULA as I continue to binge the RIPPER series.
What did you think of Kerri Maniscalco’s STALKING JACK THE RIPPER? Are you bingeing the Ripper series as well? I’d love to hear your comments below!
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