This is a spoiler-free review of the complete Stalking Jack the Ripper series. The summaries as well as my thoughts do not contain any spoilers about any endings, but they do contain spoilers about some character developments.
What to expect from the books
1: The Stalking Jack the Ripper series follows seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth as she navigates her not-so-ordinary life. She’s part of the esteemed Wadsworth family, consisting of only her Father, her Uncle, and her brother Nathaniel since her Mother passed away due to sickness. Her Uncle is pretty famous within the forensic science field and regularly hosts classes to teach a new generation all about what we can learn from the dead. Audrey Rose frequents that class as regularly as she can manage because she secretly dreams about following in her Uncle’s footsteps. But becoming a female forensics professor is a dream so unattainable in the late 19th century, Audrey Rose knows better than to hope for it to ever come true. But then a series of disturbing murders begin to take place in London and soon her Uncle is tasked with what he can do best: deduce answers from the dead… to find out who this Jack the Ripper really is. But Uncle can’t manage on his own, and soon he asks Audrey Rose and her school rival Thomas Cresswell to assist him with this impossible task.
As the investigation progresses, Audrey Rose becomes better acquainted with the infuriatingly annoying Thomas Cresswell with his endless deductions and bottomless self-confidence. It certainly doesn’t help that he’s only a year older than Audrey Rose and admittedly pretty handsome. Yet the murders do not cease and soon Audrey Rose and Thomas are burdened with the impossible task of unmasking the serial killer that roams the streets of London during this Autumn of Terror in 1888.
2: The second installment, Hunting Prince Dracula, takes place in Romania, where Thomas and Audrey Rose find themselves attending a university for forensic medicine in an old, grim castle. Yet a trail of blood seems to follow them everywhere, because soon enough, students from Bran University begin to disappear, only to be found dead later on, completely drained of blood. Audrey Rose and Thomas have another serial killer to catch, only this time they’ll have to accomplish the task without the help of Uncle.
3: The third book, Escaping from Houdini, takes place on the RMS Etruria, a massive ship that is slowly making its way to America, where Uncle, Audrey Rose, Thomas, and their bloody business were heading to next. It was supposed to be a laid-back seven-day journey, filled with entertainment and luxury. It was not. On the first night, during supper, when a show called the Moonlight Carnival captured everyone’s attention, a woman gets murdered in a very brutal manner. Uncle, Audrey Rose, and Thomas immediately take on the task of dissecting the body, which was posed as a Tarot card. This is how they end up with the burdensome task of unmasking the serial killer aboard the Etruria, in only seven days.
4: Capturing the Devil is the fourth and last installment in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series. After a most troublesome journey, Audrey Rose and Thomas finally set foot in America, and together with Uncle, they reside in the mansion of Audrey Rose’s Grandmama. After all, they have gone through and faced together, Audrey Rose and Thomas are nearly inseparable. Their friendship gave way to a beautiful relationship, and even though Thomas can still be infuriating and cocky, Audrey Rose can no longer deny her love for the boy she once loathed. Yet there’s undeniably trouble on the horizon, ready to disturb their newfound peace. When the mutilated body of a woman is found not far from their residence, and Uncle, along with Audrey Rose and Thomas are called to the site, their worst nightmare seems to have taken shape. The murder is scarily identical to the ones they had to face back in London, time and time again. It seems that they never actually stopped Jack the Ripper. He just moved across the ocean, just like them. Audrey Rose and Thomas are going to have to give it their everything if they want to stop this killer once and for all.
An overview of my ‘scoreboard’
|Stalking Jack the Ripper||Hunting Prince Dracula||Escaping from Houdini||Becoming the Dark Prince (novella)||Capturing the Devil|
My thoughts on each of the books
1: I loved Stalking Jack the Ripper way more than I expected. I just feel like everything was so well executed. It remains an intricate story while Kerri Maniscalco manages to keep it somewhat understandable for the reader. It took some time to get used to the graphic descriptions this book contains, especially once Audrey Rose begins dissecting any mutilated body. Let’s just say that it contains a lot of gore. I also didn’t expect these books to include so many visual components. A lot of chapters began with a picture of something of importance. At first, I found it disturbing, but later on, I thought it really enriched the “reader experience”. And oh my god, I loved Thomas and Audrey Rose so much in this book! Their endless banter really offered the story some much-needed lighthearted scenes to balance out the grim and bloody scenes. The supposed killer didn’t feel far-fetched at all and I was quite content with the ending.
2: Hunting Prince Dracula had a very promising start and I was very excited for the rest of the book, but it didn’t live up to the first book, in my opinion. I hated the fact that the adults left Audrey Rose and Thomas to fend for themselves and I also didn’t like how dapper Audrey Rose acted in this book because it felt so unrealistic, in a way. The students from Bran University did make things better, as well as the appearance of Thomas’s relative. I got really frustrated near the end because I didn’t agree with the revealed killer at all. I did really love Thomas in this installment. He became much more prominent in Audrey Rose’s life (especially near the very end) and that made this wholly unsatisfactory ending worth my time, at least.
3: When I started reading Escaping from Houdini, I didn’t really know how to feel. In a way, I began to feel bad for Audrey Rose and Thomas for having to solve yet another murder case in such a short time, and somehow that fact made this book so tiring to read. The Moonlight Carnival brought many lively characters (including someone called Mephistopheles who made me want to rip out strands of my hair every time he entered a scene) which was very refreshing, in my opinion. And the backdrop of the Etruria really gave this story an original feel. I’d also like to point out that Thomas was way too absent to my liking (yet not as absent as other reviewers claim) in this book. The ending had me on the edge of my seat, mostly because up until the very minute it was revealed, I had no freaking clue who had been the murderer. Just like last time, the reveal felt far-fetched and a bit unbelievable, yet it was still better executed than the reveal in Hunting Prince Dracula.
3.5: The short novella Becoming the Dark Prince consisted of only a few chapters and it was written solely from Thomas’s point of view, which was exactly what I needed after so little content about Thomas in Escaping from Houdini. There’s no killer, no special location, and no specific task present in this novella, but I still loved it. And yes, I gave it eight points for characters just because Thomas and Audrey Rose are almost exclusively the only characters this book revolves around.
4: Onto the last book, Capturing the Devil. Audrey Rose and Thomas finally got that well-deserved break from solving murders, which gave them the time to fully focus on their relationship. The first half of the book was literally so romantic! It was everything I had hoped for and more. All the while, Thomas and Audrey Rose were surrounded by the loveliest people (Sir Isaac is my favourite) and a beautiful, loving vibe. But of course, there’s also a serial killer to be reckoned with. That turned the second half of the book into pure agony (for my hopeless romantic self, that is). I did like the fact that the fourth book and the first book showed a lot of similarities because that added to the whole full-circle feeling I was feeling near the end of book four. The killer reveal was nerve-racking and plausible (I guessed it in time!) but the ending felt a bit rushed, in all honesty. The epilogue could’ve also been longer if you’d ask me, but I’m not sure if that’s just a personal preference or not. Either way, it was a beautiful ending to such an amazing series.
I’d wholeheartedly recommend this series to any reader out there because Stalking Jack the Ripper has everything you need: lovable characters, intricate storylines, devilish details, unexpected plot twists, and a great swoon-worthy romance! But also be prepared for a lot of graphic descriptions, sometimes triggering visuals and cruel murderers. If you’re thinking of picking up this series, you’re in for a wild ride!