My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Me throughout the process of reading this book:
Such a pity, because the premise was so intriguing. The unimpressive attempt at horror aside, what could have been a decent read is ruined by a number of things, including:
Ignore the the footnotes if you want to avoid spoilers!
1. Anachronistic language – I doubt the words girly and date were in use in Victorian England
2. A not very well thought through timeline¹
3. A hero whose appeal apparently lies in his ability to be really condescending and stick his nose in the air
4. Aforesaid hero’s requisite “tragic past” has nothing to do with anything and lasts a paragraph
5. Secondary characters that are so flat as to be cardboard cut outs
6. Sherlockian deductions by the hero that are even less convincing than Sherlock’s (and let’s face it, Holmes’ detective skills are genuine flights of fancy)
7. The addition of an unlikable spoiled brat as the heroine – she spends half her time making really snide remarks to everyone
8. The incredible stupidity of this heroine – she wanders out alone in skirts at night, travels cross-country with a guy she barely knows, flouts social conventions in an idiotically obvious fashion, does not even carry a hat pin to defend herself, can’t see the possible danger in shadowing a grotesque serial killer by herself, cannot make the most basic of deductions…I could keep going, but it’s not worth it
9. The hero falls in love with this heroine despite his claims to intelligence
10. Unfortunate feminist raging in EVERY. SINGLE. PAGE. I get it already. Women were restricted literally and otherwise. It’s Victorian England, what did you expect? Now would you please stop whining about your unfortunate situation and catch the killer already!
11. The whole plot. Consists of an attempt to appear gruesome, with several exaggerated caricature characters as very obvious red herrings, while I figured out the whodunit in the first ten pages, way before the murders even started.
12. The above predictability is due to lackluster writing that tries to disguise small clues in casual mentions, but is apparent to any fairly experienced mystery reader²
13. A vaguely steampunk feel without any explanation of why
14. A very unsubtle retelling of a done to death classic³
15. A kindergarten pig-tail pulling, one sided crush which never comes to fruition
16. And most importantly, the astounding fickleness of the main character – I would have preferred it if she had stupid but strong convictions, rather than this incessant waffling. Does she believe in ghosts or does she not? She says she is stronger than half the men in London because she can withstand the sight of a corpse, but at the first sniff of a halfway gory body, she buckles. She says Thomas is the most arrogant person she knows, but also the only person she likes? Her interest in forensics is so half-hearted, it’s not even funny. She is a disgrace to every kind of woman out there.
Overall : Just don’t bother with the book.
¹[since the killer would have been too young to commit the Elizabeth murder – if he wasn’t, then it’s still a sin for a muddling the chronology for the reader]
²[I figured out the killer when heroine mentions that Nathaniel wears leather gloves in the heat -______- ]