”Fear is a hungry beast. The more you feed it, the more it grows.”
Okay, let’s start this review with a little bit of background knowledge I gathered before I read the actual book and take it from there. 😉 As always I got aware of “Stalking Jack the Ripper” because so many of my friends on here read it and thus it was all over my feed. It doesn’t take much to figure that I wasn’t only intrigued by the promise but also by the idea behind the book. I mean who isn’t curious about Jack the Ripper? It’s THE unsolved mystery everyone knows about and people’s theories about his true identity are still running wild.
So of course I wanted to jump that hype train and see where this was heading. Truth be told, the reviews about this book are rather mixed and by discovering the controversial opinions of other bloggers I couldn’t help but find out what this means for me. Did I enjoy the book? Yes, I did. Was it what I expected? Well, yeah pretty much! Did I find out who the culprit was? Yep, I think it wasn’t that hard to deduce, but I still enjoyed reading about Audrey Rose’s and Thomas’s musings.
I guess what it ultimately boils down to is the expectations you have when you start reading this book. If you want to be entertained and like slow paced stories that animate you to think, if you enjoy fictional books that are built on real evidence, if you dig two characters that are like cat and mouse “Stalking Jack the Ripper” will most certainly be the right book for you.
If you dislike male leads that are self-assured and always voice their “dirty thoughts”, if you don’t like the idea of modern day feminism in a historical fiction book, if you’re no huge fan of knowing the OTP right from the start and if you’ve read or seen too many whodunnits and are an observant person you might not enjoy this though.
Okay, admittedly I knew who the killer was pretty early on in the book, but since I mostly fall into the first category I found myself enjoying the book. ;-P Also Thomas Cresswell! Honestly, I can’t resist a sexy Sherlock Holmes ever since I saw the movies with Robert Downey Jr. and discovered the series with Benedict Cumberbatch. *drools* And before I continue to rave about dear Mr. Cresswell (heaven knows he’s already way too cocksure of himself) I’ll head right into my characters section! ;-P
Welcome to Whitechapel, where robbers, pickpockets and one particular murderer roam the streets at night! If you don’t want to end up against a wall either robbed or spoiled out of your mind you better don’t continue this venture into the unknown. This is a fair warning, you better heed it! ;-P
”My hands fisted at my sides. I refused, absolutely refused to let this cruel treatment of a woman stand. I’d do everything in my power to solve this case for Miss Nichols. And for any other voiceless girl or woman society ignored.”
I’m going to be honest here: Audrey Rose wasn’t as brilliant as I expected her to be but she was likeable enough. *lol* Okay, that doesn’t sound like I was all too persuaded by her, but I guess I just read way too many YA books and most of the heroines follow the same pattern. I liked that she had a rather unconventional “hobby” and was so fascinated by the human body and I’ve to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed how she handled Thomas and her father. XD Still, she was rather stereotypical and I hope that her character will get more unique as the series proceeds. There’s still room for improvement and I genuinely hope that Kerri Maniscalco will use the rest of the series in order to develop Audrey Rose’s character. As far as I know this was her debut though so I’m quite confident that she’ll make it work! ;-P
”One needn’t be strong in only physical matters – a strong mind and will were fierce to behold as well.”
”While it wasn’t something I relished, it was the hard truth. I was a young girl growing up in a world run by old men. I’d pick and choose my battles wisely.”
”Golden-brown eyes were perfectly set into an angular face, as if Leonardo da Vinci had painted him himself. If only my lashes were as luxuriant. His chin was squared, giving him a look of steadfast determination. Even his nose was thin and regal, giving an air of alertness to his every expression. If he weren’t so infuriatingly aware of his own intelligence, he’d be quite attractive, I supposed.”
Entrance: The irresistible love interest! ;-P Honestly, it’s almost impossible not to like Thomas! At least not if you’ve a weakness for obnoxious, presumptuous, complacent, cocksure, smug and irritating men like him! Which I obviously do. *lol* I loved the arrogant “Sherlock Holmes” vibe I got from him and I really enjoyed the way he thought. Not saying I’m a Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot myself, but I tend to be very observant as well and I like to think outside of the box so we definitely seem to have that in common. Plus that sass and his audacity! I loved it! It kind of reminded me of myself (after all my blog is named “The Sassy Library Fox” for a reason ;-P) and so I could relate to him. Cheeky, brilliant bastard! <333 I want more of him and can’t wait to read the next book, especially because I’m sure that there’s a very intriguing backstory to discover. =)
”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.”
”Ah. There’s something about you saying my name that sounds like a blessed curse,” he said. “If you can work up a good hand gesture to go along with it, that’d be exceptional.”
”I stole a glance at him, but his gaze was fixed hungrily on the corpse. At times the darkness in his eyes terrified me more than the dead we butchered.”
Uncle Johnathan definitely had a creepy vibe about him but I don’t blame him for being so curious and totally absorbed by his passion. It was obvious that he lived and breathed his profession or should I rather say his calling? Despite everything I never suspected him to be Jack the Ripper though. Unfortunately the same couldn’t be said for the police and I was really sorry for him when he ended up in that asylum. I’m sure there’s more to Uncle Jonathan’s story as well and once again I hope that Kerri Maniscalco will explore it in one of the next books.
”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. There’s no reason you can’t wear a simple frock to work, then don the finest gown and dance the night away. But only if it pleases you.”
I really liked her cousin Liza and I wish we would have gotten more of her. I kind of admired how she found a balance between what society expected of her and what she truly believed and thought. With a mother like hers this couldn’t have been easy but she was clever enough to play along with her mother’s views and not to defy her outright. Something that can’t be said for Audrey Rose and the way she dealt with her father. *lol* This said Liza’s approach was way more diplomatic and skilful, which automatically caused her to be in my good books. XD Can we please get more Liza in “Hunting Prince Dracula”?
Blackburn walked around his desk, dropping into the chair behind it and rubbing his eyes. ”Perhaps running the estate as my father had wanted isn’t such a bad idea. I can handle a vast amount, but this is a bit much. How horrid can a life of leisure and politics be?”
I know he was supposed to be some sort of antagonist but I somehow started to like him? Haha! I mean alone that quote above! *lol* He respects Audrey Rose and her work and even though his way to court her was totally wrong he still made an effort which is more than can be said for other men during that time. =) I think he might be more Liza’s calibre though so I’d totally ship those two if they’d meet one day. ❤ As for now he was a nice addition to the cast and I’m sure he has his own interesting story to tell.
Audrey Rose & Thomas:
Without lifting his head from his own journal, he said, “Not having any luck figuring me out, then? Don’t worry, you’ll get better with practice. And, yes” – he grinned wickedly, eyes fixed on his paper – “you’ll still fancy me tomorrow no matter how much you wish otherwise. I’m unpredictable, and you adore it. Just as I cannot wrap my massive brain around the equation of you and yet adore it.”
I just loved Thomas unapologetic and unashamed flirting with Audrey Rose! *lol* There’s a man that knows what he wants and I’m sure she captured his interest way earlier than we see in the book. In fact I’m pretty certain that she’s been on his radar for months already and the fact that he instantly knew who she was and worked with her uncle for quite a while indicates that this was no instalove! At least not for him, which was truly refreshing. Also did anyone else die when his composure finally crumpled and we got to see the real Thomas that’s hiding behind his calculating mind?! Thomas totally losing his mind because he was afraid someone would harm Audrey Rose was one of the best things about this book. <333 Yes, it’s tropey, yes it’s stereotypical but I still loved it! *lol* Can’t help it but I’m weak for such boys. XD Plus their easy banter was so amusing to read. I might have known that those two would end up together from the very moment they met but it was still fun to watch it unfold and I’m looking forward to more of those moments and scenes.
”Hurry along, then,” I said, grabbing my orchid and securing it safely in my journal. “I want to sit by the window.”
“What now?” I asked, losing patience.
“I usually sit by the window. You may have to sit in my lap.”
”If you’d like to see me out of my breeches, simply ask, Wadsworth. I’m more than happy to accommodate you on that front.”
I took a steadying breath. Thomas was a complete wreck. I gently touched his face, drawing his attention to me. “Thomas. What –“
“I thought I was going to lose you.” He ran both hands through his hair, pacing away and coming back. “I saw blood – I thought He’d slit your throat. I thought – “ He covered his face with his hands, collecting himself for a few breaths, then fixed his attention on me, swallowing hard. “You must know what you mean to me? Surely you must know how I feel about you, Audrey Rose. The thought of losing you…”
Audrey Rose & her father:
”I was unaware keeping abreast of the daily news was inappropriate. Perhaps I shall spend my time, and your money, on new corsets to bind my will from my lips,” I said sweetly. “Wearing something so constricting ought to tether my vocal cords nicely. Wouldn’t you agree?”
Talk about a complicated and strenuous father-daughter relationship. Those two didn’t give each other an inch and I could understand why. >_< Audrey Rose’s father was still grieving for his wife and he obviously loved his daughter and wanted to keep her from harm. Yet at the same time he being so strict pushed her away from him. The more he tried to keep her close the more she rebelled. The things she said to him though! *lol* I was like WOAH, GIRL! Still, I’m glad they managed to sort things out in the end and that they got closer once again. ❤ I just hope their relationship will continue to be on a good terms in those next few books. Also: No surprise Thomas won her father over! XD He watched out for his girl and saved her so which kind of father wouldn’t approve of a boy like that? 😉
”Those who deserve respect are given it freely. If one must demand such a thing, he’ll never truly command it. I am your daughter, not your horse, sir.”
”Fear is a hungry beast. The more you feed it, the more it grows. My misguided intentions were good, but I’m afraid they didn’t turn out as I’d planned.” He tapped his heart. “I thought by keeping you close, keeping you safe in our home, I could protect you from such monsters.”
Audrey Rose & her brother Nathaniel:
”Father will go berserk if he discovers what you’re really doing. I fear his grasp on reality is most delicate these days. His delusions are becoming … worrisome.”
I saw this coming from miles away and truth be told I already got suspicious about Nathaniel when he told Audrey Rose that he and his friends were trying to protect the citizens of London. There’s no better way to disguise your dark deeds than to claim that you’re out at night in order to keep others safe. Who would suspect a righteous person like that? (Except of me, of course. *lol*) When it comes down to the 3 most important questions it wasn’t hard to deduce who was the murderer though. You might call them the three “w”. Who has a motive? Who had a good alibi? And who had the perfect opportunity? It was way too easy to suspect Audrey Rose’s uncle, Thomas or her father. They were the obvious choices and so I didn’t even suspect them. Pity Audrey Rose didn’t do the same. She was so hung up on the idea of her father being Jack the Ripper that she didn’t even see all those obvious signs. Bless Thomas for keeping a cool head in her stead. XD Also she loved her brother dearly and made the mistake of trusting him blindly. Beginner’s mistake. ;-P Still, I understand why she couldn’t wrap her head around the idea of him being the murderer and it’s always tough when it’s your own family….
“Stalking Jack the Ripper” was a very entertaining and easy read. Admittedly some of the more gory details might not be for the faint-hearted, being a scaredy fox myself I didn’t think that it was all too bad though. ;-P If you like a little mystery, easy banter and a slow-moving plot this might be the right book for you. =)