Perhaps a more genuinely enlightened protagonist would have made this debut more engaging

STALKING JACK THE RIPPER

Audrey Rose Wadsworth, 17, would rather perform autopsies in her uncle’s dark laboratory than find a suitable husband, as is the socially acceptable rite of passage for a young, white British lady in the late 1800s.

The story immediately brings Audrey into a fractious pairing with her uncle’s young assistant, Thomas Cresswell. The two engage in predictable rounds of “I’m smarter than you are” banter, while Audrey’s older brother, Nathaniel, taunts her for being a girl out of her place. Horrific murders of prostitutes whose identities point to associations with the Wadsworth estate prompt Audrey to start her own investigation, with Thomas as her sidekick. Audrey’s narration is both ponderous and polemical, as she sees her pursuit of her goals and this investigation as part of a crusade for women. She declares that the slain aren’t merely prostitutes but “daughters and wives and mothers,” but she’s also made it a point to deny any alignment with the profiled victims: “I am not going as a prostitute. I am simply blending in.” Audrey also expresses a narrow view of her desired gender role, asserting that “I was determined to be both pretty and fierce,” as if to say that physical beauty and liking “girly” things are integral to feminism. The graphic descriptions of mutilated women don’t do much to speed the pace.

Perhaps a more genuinely enlightened protagonist would have made this debut more engaging . (Historical thriller. 15-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-316-27349-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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A stunning novel that exposes modern fascism and elevates human resilience. (author’s note, research and sources, glossary,...

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THE FOUNTAINS OF SILENCE

The pitiless dictatorship of Francisco Franco examined through the voices of four teenagers: one American and three Spaniards.

The Spanish Civil War lasted from 1936-1939, but Franco held Spain by its throat for 36 years. Sepetys (Salt to the Sea, 2016, etc.) begins her novel in 1957. Daniel is a white Texan who wants to be a photojournalist, not an oilman; Ana is trying to work her way to respectability as a hotel maid; her brother, Rafael, wants to erase memories of an oppressive boys’ home; and Puri is a loving caregiver for babies awaiting adoption—together they provide alternating third-person lenses for viewing Spain during one of its most brutally repressive periods. Their lives run parallel and intersect as each tries to answer questions about truth and the path ahead within a regime that crushes any opposition, murders dissidents, and punishes their families while stealing babies to sell to parents with accepted political views. This formidable story will haunt those who ask hard questions about the past as it reveals the hopes and dreams of individuals in a nation trying to lie its way to the future. Meticulous research is presented through believable, complex characters on the brink of adulthood who personalize the questions we all must answer about our place in the world. 

A stunning novel that exposes modern fascism and elevates human resilience. (author’s note, research and sources, glossary, photographs) (Historical fiction. 15-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-16031-8

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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A gripping mystery with a compelling heroine and just the right touch of romance (Mystery. 15-adult)

ESCAPING FROM HOUDINI

From the Stalking Jack the Ripper series , Vol. 3

In the winter of 1889, a luxury cruise liner leaves Liverpool, England, with a murderer on board.

When forensic scientist-in-training Audrey Rose Wadsworth boards the luxurious Etruria, she anticipates a much-needed vacation before joining a criminal investigation in New York. But a young woman is murdered, setting off a string of killings that forces Audrey Rose to practice her autopsy skills under the guidance of her uncle, a renowned forensic scientist, and in partnership with Thomas Creswell, her fellow apprentice and, she hopes, future husband. As the body count mounts, Audrey Rose goes undercover to investigate the onboard carnival helmed by a mysterious ringmaster, Mephistopheles. The deeper she goes, the more confused she becomes about the killer—and her own desires. Audrey Rose is a witty, resourceful feminist who refuses to bow to Victorian-era gender norms. The book’s love triangle provides a steamy, consensual romance that refreshingly positions her as the arbiter of her own fate. Given the paucity of strong, biracial female characters, it is disappointing that no mention is made (as in a previous entry) of the fact that Audrey Rose has an Indian mother and a white father. The end reveal unsatisfyingly fails to fully describe her epiphany. Overall, though, this dark, gothic landscape is peopled with nuanced, diverse characters who keep readers enthralled.

A gripping mystery with a compelling heroine and just the right touch of romance (Mystery. 15-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-55170-0

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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