“Roses have both petals and thorns, my dark flower. You needn’t believe something weak because it appears delicate. Show the world your bravery.”
Synopsis: 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.
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Publication Date: 2016
What was meant to be a Halloween Read for 2019 ended up being a 2020 “I-NEED-TO-READ-THIS” read. Thank gosh Taylor @taystalltales [Instagram] graciously agreed to buddy read with me! She’s a fellow Canadian blogger with a really homey and beautiful Instagram aesthetic. She also did a post regarding her thoughts, so make sure to take a look!
Reading Maniscalco’s novel was a wonderful experience — it’s been a large chunk of time since I’ve read not only a historical novel, but a thriller/mystery/horror story. The atmosphere and the writing style felt true to that Victorian horror genre, making the whole read authentic. Though there are a FEW things that bothered me, I’m still eager to continue on reading this intriguing series!
↠ Pro 1. The characters are so unique and interesting, really bringing the story to life! An eccentric forensic scientist uncle, a hypochondriac father, an independent and strong-willed woman, an intelligent yet flirtatious young man — there are just so many interesting characters! Thomas and Audrey Rose, our main characters, are borderline intoxicating! There stories and interactions with one another make readers want to learn more.
What’s even better is that their partnership progresses at a relatively steady pace. Thomas also judges Audrey Rose by her talents and intelligence, not by her gender. This not only was a breath of fresh air — but it allows for numerous amounts of hilarity with all of his inappropriate comments!
↠ Pro 2. There’s definitely some Sherlock Holmes vibes happening, but with an authentic twist. The “Sherlock-Watson” partnership is very much shadowed with Thomas and Audrey Rose. But there are still plenty of differences between the characters to make it feel new. The way the mystery is unveiled is also very Doyle-like, slowly revealing the truth behind the cases.
I do find Thomas and Audrey aren’t as adept yet at solving cases due to inexperience. This was actually a fun point of the story, for it made their discoveries appear more believable and made their story differ from Sherlock Holmes.
↠ Pro 3. Once past the halfway point, the plot’s SO good that it ends up being a binge read. There’s honestly SO much going on in the latter part of the novel, there’s really no good time to put the book down! Family secrets, finding more clues about Jack’s identity, hidden dangers constantly afoot — the pace REALLY picks up and makes the novel feel like a whole new book!
↠ Pro 4. Maniscalco does a FANTASTIC job depicting the Victorian era accurately! Seriously — the mannerisms, social etiquette, clothing choices, the aesthetics of the land, events occurring, thoughts on forensic sciences — all of these elements are portrayed exceptionally well, perfecting a precise look into the late 1800’s. Though some changes were made, they made sense in order to progress the plot further.
And to be fair — this IS a fiction novel.
↠ Woe 1. As much as I love her spirit, Audrey Rose is EXTREMELY frustrating. I love main characters that portray strong wills and this desire for independence, which Audrey Rose tries to portray to the outside world. But she’s ALL OVER THE MAP! One minute she’s independent, then she gets into trouble and needs to be saved, and then she gets mad at people for helping her when she was literally just thinking how she wished she had help.
At first, it was kind of funny — you can easily relate to that strong desire to try something solo and then realizing how DUMB that was. But it eventually got on my nerves, especially with how she acts towards some other characters such as Thomas. I still like her — but sometimes, she’s a bit much.
↠ Woe 2. As someone who’s oblivious to a lot of things, you’ll be disappointed to know that the mystery is rather obvious. About 5 chapters in, I had pegged two people as Jack the Ripper. By the end, I realized one of my two initial suspects was accurate. It still doesn’t RUIN the story, but it definitely weakens the mystery element.
↠ Woe 3. The pacing’s incredibly slow for the first part of the novel. Honestly, I think a lot of this has to do with the heavy description. Readers know MOST of what’s going on in Audrey’s mind … but not knowing everything can be a good thing. I don’t need to know what time she wants to buy a dress and what fabric it will be and the kind of tea she wants — I want to know the DETAILS regarding how she feels about the case and the people around her.
The development of the case was also excruciatingly slow — it takes about halfway through the novel for Maniscalco to really dive into the Jack the Ripper killings, FINALLY bringing some action and mystery to the story.
Maniscalco’s Stalking Jack the Ripper is a thrilling and exciting read, drawing readers into an amazing young adult horror story! From adding images of the Victorian era to properly researching the events of the time, Maniscalco does an excellent job at portraying an accurate and authentic version of London during the Victorian era. There’s such a wealth of memorable characters in this story, I was sad to see it end. Thank goodness there’s a sequel! I honestly cannot wait to find out what adventures lie ahead for Thomas and Audrey Rose in Hunting Prince Dracula!
I recommend this novel if you enjoy:
↠ Accurately depicted historical fiction
↠ Descriptive writing
↠ Steady paced romance
↠ Darker themes and settings
↠ A Sherlock Holmes style of mystery writing
Have you read Kerri Maniscalco’s Stalking Jack the Ripper?