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.
It’s been so long that I’ve read a proper murder mystery or even a historical book that this one came as a breath of fresh air and I think it was exactly what I needed at this time. Jack the Ripper is such a fascinating and popular true crime story and I was really excited to read a fiction based on it. It was dark and thrilling but also so much fun with a cast of very intriguing characters and I can’t wait to read the next installment.
Audrey Rose is a wonderful protagonist and someone who I wanted to root for right from the get go. She is intelligent, strong willed, sassy, compassionate and will do whatever it takes to follow the path that she has chosen for herself. She is questioned or looked down upon every step of the way because she would rather spend her time dissecting corpses and investigating crimes than gossipping or organizing tea parties, but she never lets others’ opinions change her mind – she just smartly figures out ways to get around all the rules. Her utmost dedication to science and belief in equal opportunities for women are definitely revolutionary for her times and it was heartening to read about a character with such strong convictions. There were times when she judged other girls her age for giving importance only to beauty and scoring husbands and it wasn’t cool, but I could understand her because she was also being judged all the time.
Thomas is her Uncle’s student from his forensics class and is equally smart and knows it. He is so confident in his abilities and comes across as arrogant, is very good at detaching himself while investigating the murders which makes him seem unemotional or apathetic but he is actually very sweet, charming and swoon worthy. He loves showing off his deduction skills and it gave so much Sherlock vibes, it was lots of fun to read. He is just as much non conforming to society’s expectations as Audrey is, so he is quite supportive of her endeavor to investigate and catch Jack the Ripper. He is also very sarcastic and the flirty banter between them is just too cute. They both may be attracted to the other’s looks but their friendship and later romance slowly develops on a foundation of mutual respect for each other’s intelligence and personalities, and I loved that especially due to the historical setting.
The writing in the book is excellent for a debut novel and I really didn’t want to put it down. The setting of London is eery and creepy and the dull rainy foggy days are described so well, it makes for the perfect atmosphere. The mutilated bodies and the theories of how the murders may have been committed are described in all the gory details; it was really nauseating sometimes and gave me chills. Even the science of performing the autopsies and all the methods of forensic investigations utilized during the 1800s are articulated in detail which shows how diligent the author was in her research. I especially enjoyed the original pictures from the time period and Jack the Ripper’s letters because they made the book seem more creepy and real. As I’m not very good at predicting, I really didn’t figure out who the killer was until just a few minutes before Audrey did and I did not see that coming. The ending was devastating but with a tad bit of hope and sets up the next book very neatly.
If you read a lot of murder mysteries, this book might seem predictable but for me, it was just the perfect blend of macabre and entertaining. The characters are absolutely delightful and it was so interesting to go on this thrilling journey with them to discover the truth. If you are fascinated by Jack the Ripper or love murder mysteries or if fierce Victorian heroines are your thing, then this book is perfect for you. Give it a chance and you won’t regret it 🙂🙂🙂