Welcome to The Sisterhood of the Traveling ARC
A few months while chatting about books we started to discuss how actually obtaining a physical ARC for review has become rather a hard thing to do. Unless you attend a book convention like BEA or ALA physical ARCs are not that easy to come by. We also know that not everyone who writes to a publisher gets approved for an ARC. There has been quite a bit of controversy in the blogger-verse about ARC hoarding for trade and for sale. Thus making it even harder for smaller bloggers like ourselves to get approved for physical ARCs because there are only a certain amount available. One of our goals with this feature is to point out what an ARC is really for…which is promotion. It’s not meant to be hoarded or sold. An ARC is meant to be read and reviewed in a timely manner on your blog. It’s a tool that the publishers use to promote new books and new authors.
We love reading ARCs so we started to brainstorm about how we could all get to read more ARCs as well as help promote upcoming authors and books. The solution was an easy one, we would just share whatever ARCs we got sent with one another. By sharing our ARCs we all get to read more books, and at the same time the author, book, and publisher will get book promotions and reviews from all three of us. It’s a Win-Win! This also allows us to have a mini book club of sorts and we get to sit down and discuss the book once we are all finished reading it…hopefully while having afternoon tea.
The first ARC we choose to read is Stalking Jack the Ripper by debut author Kerri Maniscalco. This was the first physical ARC I had ever request via email, and it was such a happy surprise to find it patiently waiting in my mailbox. While reading it I kept raving to Nicole and Elizabeth about how good it was and we decided it was going to be the first ARC we would share to start this feature. We really hope that the Sisterhood of the Traveling ARC will take flight and help us get to read more amazing books and share them with you.
Stalking Jack The Ripper
By: Kerri Maniscalco
Publishing Date: Sept. 20, 2016
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Genres: YA, Gothic, Horror, Thriller, Mystery
Rating: FIVE STARS!!!!
Presented by James Patterson’s new children’s imprint, this deliciously creepy horror novel has a storyline inspired by the Ripper murders and an unexpected, blood-chilling conclusion…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 debut from author Kerri Maniscalco impossible to forget.
Now for my Review:
I’ve always been fascinated by the mysterious and gruesome history of “the Whitechapel Murderer” a serial killer also known as Jack the Ripper. The time period is one of my favorites, and when I discovered that Kerri Maniscalco had written a book that centers around the search for this notorious murderer I knew I had to read it. From the very first line:
“I placed my thumb and forefinger on the icy flesh, spreading it taut above the breastbone as Uncle had shown me.”
I knew that Ms.Maniscalco wasn’t going to sugar coat any of the blood-drenched and gory scenes yet to come, and I liked it….very much.
Audrey Rose Wadsworth is nothing like the average Victorian lady of her time. Yes, she does dress the part and loves her gowns and doing her hair, but at the same time she loves science and has an unquenchable curiosity for the world around her, especially when it comes to science and slicing open cadavers. Audrey Rose is not the kind of girl that you would find at home embroidering, unless of course, it was an embroidery of an anatomically correct human heart. Audrey Rose spends most of her time at her uncle’s laboratory helping him dissect human cadavers and trying to understand how everything works. It’s quite impossible to not fall in love with Audrey Rose, she is witty, charming, independent and unquestionably smart. She’s gutsy and won’t let anyone stand in her way or question her worth due to her female gender. I loved her strong will, determination and the fact that she was completely sure of herself. Be it pretending to be to blend with the most delicate of ladies while attending formal tea, wielding a scalpel at the lab, or stalking the streets of London’s East End to discover the identity of Jack the Ripper, Audrey Rose can do it all.
Clearly Audrey Rose is my favorite character, but following close behind is the ever so debonair Thomas Creswell, who is a bit of a rogue with a hint of Sherlock-esque qualities. He’s handsome, smart and devilishly charming. He also knows exactly how to push all of Audrey Rose’s buttons and drive her nuts. I really enjoyed their banter and watching their hate-love relationship unfold. I could definitely see how he could be completely infuriating to Audrey Rose, not just because of his “know-it-all” attitude but because she is also struggling with accepting her feelings for him without losing the validation that she too can continue to be an independent woman and follow her studies (even if she chooses to fall for Thomas). I liked that they partnered up together in their search for clues as to whom Jack the Ripper really is. It was almost a bit like Sherlock and Watson to the rescue in a way. It’s pretty obvious that Thomas thinks Audrey Rose is attractive and he likes that she is so different from the average Victorian lady. Audrey Rose also says she wouldn’t mind kissing Thomas, but what I liked best is that there was no INSTA-LOVE and that their courtship took time. I can see where some reader would get frustrated with the progression of their relationship, but I thought the anticipation for them to together was fantastic.
I love how Ms. Maniscalco created the perfect eerie atmosphere and dark mood throughout this novel. You could almost feel the dampness of the fog, the chill lingering in the air, the chemical stench seeping from the glass jars in the laboratory. Maniscalco made every part of her story come to life and fully encompass the reader. Her research was also completely spot on and the use of medical/forensic terminology, as well as procedure clearly proves how devoted she was to writing a period accurate/realistic novel. Maniscalco also made sure to freshen up on her Victorian etiquette, dress code, social rules and restrictions in order to make her characters and world even more believable. Maniscalco writing style is vivid, lush, beautifully detailed and powerful. A special touch I really liked was that dispersed between the chapters also were pictures of diagrams, places, diseases, and settings related to the story/time period. The humor in the story is sharp-witted, deliciously dark and morbid. I felt myself laughing and giggling during some of the most inappropriate passages. Here are some of my favorite lines (please note that these quotes come from an ARC and might be different or completely gone in the finished copy):
“The dead speak to those who listen. Be quieter than even them.”
“Not to mention, the subject matter was hardly appropriate for the dinner table. Discussing missing ovaries then asking him to pass the salt would be revolting for anyone, let alone a girl of my station”
“Human flesh flayed much easier than I’d anticipated. It wasn’t much different than cutting into a pork loin prior to roasting; a thought that should have been more disturbing than it was.”
“Oh, yes. How silly of me to overlook that.” Thomas snorted. “I imagine the women who lost their organs thought themselves quite above being slaughtered as well. They were likely saying, ‘It’s Friday. I shall go to the pub, find a bit of food, pay my board, then get murdered by a madman before the night’s through. How lovely.'”
“Wield your assets like a blade, Cousin. No man has invented a corset for our brains. Let them this 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 frock to work, and don the finest gown and dance the night away. But only if it pleases you.”
“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.”
The pacing of the book started out a bit slow, but I enjoyed that. It allowed me to soak in everything around me, it created an air of intrigue and overall creepiness around the whole story. It also allowed me to play detective along with Audrey Rose and Thomas. I had a pretty good idea of who Jack the Ripper was going to turn out to be by page 217, but it might have something to do with how much I love watching and reading crime/mystery/forensic shows/books. Even though I knew the killer, I still really enjoyed the intense and fast ride through the last few chapters and to the devastating and monstrous reveal. Stalking Jack the Ripper is definitely on my list of the top 5 books I have read this year. Ms. Kerri Maniscalco has perfectly crafted and delivered a stunning and engaging debut novel that fans of gothic/horror, mystery, and crime will completely devour and beg for more. I can’t wait until September to get my finished copy and read it all over again. Bravo!
Thank you, Jimmy Patterson/Hachette/Little Brown and Company for providing me with a copy of Stalking Jack the Ripper in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Kerri Maniscalco for writing this amazing and bloody story. I loved every page of it.
About The Author
Kerri Maniscalco grew up in a semi-haunted house outside NYC where her fascination with gothic settings began. In her spare time she reads everything she can get her hands on, cooks all kinds of food with her family and friends, and drinks entirely too much tea while discussing life’s finer points with her cats. Stalking Jack the Ripper is her debut novel. It incorporates her love of forensic science and unsolved history, and is the first in a new series of gothic thrillers.
It will be available everywhere September 20, 2016.
For more information, visit Kerri online:
We hope you enjoyed our review of Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco, and we hope you will keep an eye out for future posts of The Sisterhood of the Traveling ARC. Make sure to check out Nicole’s and Elizabeth’s reviews too and let us know what you think in the comments below. Let’s Chat!