My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Stalking Jack the Ripper is a fascinating, fictional take on the reign of terror that gripped London in the late 1800’s. The story is told through the eyes of a teen girl, Audrey Rose, who is doing her best to study under her uncle’s tutelage – as a forensic scientist. She is drawn into the murders, even though her family and society do not agree with her inclusion in the affair as it is not right for ladies to be interested in such things.
The author did a brilliant job weaving what facts we know historically about Jack the Ripper into her carefully crafted narrative. The dialogue is a bit clunky at times and the pacing could have been better, but overall I enjoyed this book. Some people felt that the perpetrator was obvious from the first moment they stepped on the scene, but I didn’t feel that way. It seemed like the suspense and horror built over the course of the book until you finally realize who the killer is in the final moments before its reveal.
The characters were both a high and low point in the book. I enjoyed the fact that the main character was meant to be a more progressive person than women in her time generally, but sometimes her inner dialogues were strange moments of her thinking utterly ridiculous thoughts and then immediately dismissing them like oh no that cannot be. She desires to be both pretty and fierce and does not understand why society feels that she cannot be both. Audrey Rose also has a propensity for charging into dangerous situations with no planning, when a murderer is stalking the streets looking for women to cut apart. It’s difficult to explain how all of those things combined to affect her portrayal, but overall it made her seem less strong, much more insecure, and significantly less grounded than I feel the author was hoping to portray her.
Thomas Cresswell, on the other hand, is the witty British boy that you can help but love when he enters a scene. He made brilliant deductions and didn’t miss a moment attempting to seduce Miss Audrey Rose. The two of them together were such a fun team, even if Audrey Rose’s inner dialogue was frustratingly superficial. Oh, I hate this boy, oh, I can’t help but want to kiss him, he’s terrible, he’s wonderful. Please, Audrey Rose, control your emotions and be the strong heroine we deserve in this book. Together, they were very reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson.
The author creates a vivid landscape upon which this gruesome tableau takes place. That being said, I would definitely caution some readers from this book as the violence is quite explicitly described. It can definitely be too much for some younger readers or people who are squeamish. If you feel like you’re okay with the gory details and enjoy forensic science, I believe you will enjoy this book.