Books: Stalking Jack the Ripper, Hunting Prince Dracula, Escaping from Houdini, and Capturing the Devil.
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Genre: YA fantasy/historical fiction/historical thriller
Who should read these books: fans of serial killer stories, victorian gothic crime fans
Ok this series is set in Victorian England and follows the adventures of Audrey Rose, an 18-year-old apprentice of her uncle who is a forensic scientist that works mainly with dead bodies. It is quite unusual that Audrey Rose would be studying in a man’s field in the 19th century but it’s key to the plot, as she quite frequently faces dead bodies in her day to day life.
The first book focuses on the story of Jack the Ripper, with some serious liberties taken with historical accuracy. Audrey Rose, her Uncle Johnathon, and his other apprentice Thomas Cresswell are working with the police to help track down this murderer terrorizing the ladies of the London nights. As they get closer to discovering the true identity of the madman, Audrey Rose and Thomas become closer as well, in a sometimes annoying but mostly endearing slow burn way. The novel is quite gothic and dark, there are a lot of gory details which I liked.
The second books follows Audrey Rose and Thomas as they head to Romania to study at an elite forensics academy. There they discover that people have been disappearing from the nearby village and that Dracula or the legend of him is potentially the cause. This one gets even more gothic and gory.
In book three, Audrey Rose and Thomas are travelling to America by ship. The ship boasts nightly entertainment from the Moonlight Carnival. But when young women start disappearing from the ship in the middle of the ocean, it is the carnival players that are the suspects. This one features the up and coming magician Harry Houdini as one of the carnival members. Also this one was my least favourite book.
The fourth and final book in the series sees Audrey Rose and Thomas arriving in New York with her uncle only to discover that there is a serial killer here too wreaking havoc. They begin the hunt and end up in Chicago where Audrey Rose unknowingly becomes a target of the killer. This was my favourite book because it was a culmination of the romantic story line and I really liked the ending.
Overall the books were pretty good. Audrey Rose is portrayed as an independent young woman that doesn’t need a man, but she frequently relies on the men in her life to save her. So I didn’t think that was very well done by the author. The goal was fierce independence despite the historical era, but I don’t think she succeeded. Audrey Rose came off quite often as stupid and needy. But I enjoyed the plot and Thomas Cresswell is a dream boat. So a fun gothic YA with a whole lot of historical inaccuracies, but if you don’t let that bother you, it’s pretty good.