Welcome to the first virtual meeting of Bookscovery! Bookscovery is made up of my bookish friend Jemma, me and hopefully all of you! It was born out of a wish to discover some new favourite books together. Our book of the month is Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco! We really hope you enjoy it!
*Read to the end for more information about our February book of the month*
Now, let’s get this show on the road!
Goodreads Synopsis: 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.
Jemma’s Rating: Three and a half stars
Niamh’s Rating: Three stars
Jemma’s General Thoughts: I enjoyed it a lot but it did take me nearly 150 pages to get there. There was also some characters I was expecting to love that I merely liked.
Niamh’s General Thoughts: I agree with Jemma to an extent because I enjoyed this book because it had potential. I really wanted to love this and I really thought it would make an easy five stars. That was before I read it. After I read it, I do know why I thought that because it had every element and trope that I just love. Mostly I think this book failed me in its execution which I will talk about later. Ultimately, I did enjoy this book and I do want to read the sequel as I am wary to judge this author too harshly considering this was her debut.
Jemma’s Thoughts on Characters: First up the main character! I really loved Audrey Rose and how much she goes against the expectations set for her, and despite the disapproval she faces in the investigation never stops trying to get these women some justice. She could definitely be a bit reckless at times but I found that endearing and it 100% confirmed her status as a Gryffindor for me. She did occasionally refer to herself quite negatively for her interest in forensics but I saw that as society’s pressure getting to her and proof that it was not easy for her to be involved in science which proves how much she loves it!
The other character I’m going to talk about is Thomas. I’m sorry to say it but I was disappointed by him. He fit the sarcastic occasionally seeming like an asshole trope which is one I usually love. Unfortunately I saw him as rude more than sarcastic and funny which was so disappointing to me. I did warm to him more as the book went on so hopefully I will come to see the hype around this character that so many people seem to adore.
Niamh’s Thoughts on Characters: I kind of disagree with Jemma slightly about Thomas. I don’t think he was rude necessarily but a lot of his dialogue just seemed misplaced to me. I think Maniscalco tried too hard to create that sarcastic but lovable character that readers become so attached too. I definitely see the potential in his character and totally get why people love him but there was something that just didn’t seem believable for me. I’m very disappointed about it.
As for Audrey Rose, she absolutely is as reckless as Jemma says which shows a sort of naivety about her character. Her naivety I think fuels her outlook on the world which is fitting when we remember that this is a YA novel. It is hard to judge her too harshly on that especially considering her upbringing.
Jemma’s Thoughts on Plot: I feel like the plot of this book once you got there was strong but it took me nearly 200 pages to get there. I did enjoy those 200 pages while I was reading them but the plot and the pacing was just a little to slow for me to feel the urge to pick it up again once it was out of my hands. I felt like there were a little too much of waiting space between the action in the first half of the book and I think the plot and the book was stronger and more fast paced in the second half which I mostly read in one sitting I was that hooked.
Niamh’s Thoughts on Plot: I’m actually the complete opposite to Jemma. I read this book so fast. Unfortunately though while this book did keep my attention I did have some issues. Like with Thomas there was just something about the plot that stopped me from fully believing and buying into the story. Mostly I think this book’s and subsequently the plot’s main problem is pacing. Everything just felt rushed. I think that if Maniscalco had slowed things down a little and spread them out more this book would easily be a four or five star read. I think that’s the most frustrating thing in that it ticked all the boxes but just let me down a little in the execution.
Jemma’s Thoughts on Themes: I feel like there were a few themes throughout this book that are some old and new favourites of mine recently. One if the first is a girl with more modern views in historical times. This is a theme and trope I’m really beginning to love so seeing it again in this book was great! We get to see Audrey Rose have this huge passion for science and finding answers from the dead and we she how she has to both hide this and struggle with seeing her interests as right when her society is so clearly telling her they are wrong.
The next is that the dead deserve answers and as someone who used to read so much murder mystery I really loved this theme! I’ll talk more on how I think the deaths were handled later but in short I really loved how Audrey Rose really sought the answers for these women who didn’t deserve their brutal deaths or the sensationalism around their killer.
Niamh’s Thoughts on Themes: I really liked seeing some of the themes Jemma identified above and their inclusion was a natural consequence of this story. I do have a few writing critiques that I will highlight later but I ultimately did like the overall message of said themes.
Jemma’s Thoughts on Writing Style: I feel like there wasn’t really much that stood out about Maniscalco’s writing style but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It was a simple writing style where noting stood out that irked me and nothing really stood out as a particularly beautiful sentence. It was simply a writing style that told the story and I think it worked well for the book.
Niamh’s Thoughts on Writing Style: Maniscalco is a good writer in my opinion and a few small editing changes could lead to a really incredible book. Sometimes I felt like Maniscalco was telling us readers information rather than showing us. I think she could have gotten across her message surrounding her themes much more elegantly if she had managed to weave it into her story. This will definitely come with experience however as there is clear potential shown.
Niamh’s Question for Jemma: How well do you think Maniscalco handled deaths within the book?
I definitely think that the deaths were handled well within the book. Audrey Rose sympathized with people she saw dead throughout the book and wanted to find out who killed the women in order to get them the justice they deserved. She does as I said before occasionally feel horrified at herself for her morbid curiosity but I believe that was her needing to find the answers for how these people died and wasn’t a bad thing. I also like how the sensationalism of the killer through the newspapers was mentioned in parts and how Audrey Rose never agreed with how someone who brutally murdered so many women was being portrayed as a sort of celebrity by the papers.
Jemma’s Question for Niamh: What do you think of Audrey Rose’s defiance of her society’s roles and her thoughts towards other women in her society?
I kind of touched on this above but I think this theme was clearly integral to this story. If Audrey Rose wasn’t defiant of her roles in society then this would not be the story it needs to be. I liked that her views towards other women were respectable but I also think this theme because of its importance is an area where the author falls into a trap of telling us things instead of showing us.
*IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR FEBRUARY*
February book of the month: The Wicked King by Holly Black
To be hosted: On Jemma’s blog, Jemma Loves Books. We work on a rotation basis here!
Date: Thursday 28th February 2019
Thank you so much for reading! We hope to see you next month!