Who was Jack the Ripper? History may never tell us, but in the meantime, James Reese has vividly imagined what might have been. Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, was acquainted with the one of the suspects, Francis Tumblety, and from these beginnings, Reese has spun a suspenseful tale that follows the dark career of Tumblety from its beginning to its gristly end.
Two words of caution before you go out and read this book. First off, it is written in Stoker’s style. It’s also slow going to start because not only do you have to get in Victorian mode, you also have to wonder what’s going on for a while until the scary bit starts up. And never is it purely terrifying, but it’s very, very creepy.
But is it worth those fifty pages of adjustment? Yes! I’m going to go ahead and say that Reese is very talented. First of all, he must have really studied Dracula to emulate Stoker’s writing so well. It’s almost eerie how this has the feel of a Victorian novel. Secondly, he follows the historical record very closely and somehow manages to weave in horror elements that are “might have beens”. And thirdly, he evokes these ritualistic scenes which also feel straight out of a Victorian imagination, particularly the fascination with Egyptology. Using Egypt and the Egyptian gods and demons makes perfect sense. (Yes, 19th century fiction is my favorite period to study, how did you guess?) He also ties in a lot of Stoker’s fictional experiences with the author’s inspiration for Dracula in a way that links the two books, making me appreciate this one more since I love Dracula so much.
So, not only did I enjoy this book, creeped out as I was (I had to stop reading last night and finish it this morning, convinced I was going to hear my last name whispered like “Sto-ker”), but I feel like I learned a lot about Bram Stoker, Thomas Henry Hall Caine, the Wildes, and the Jack the Ripper investigation, far more than I knew already. And Reese even sticks in one of my favorites, an author’s note explaining what he did and did not invent and even citing his sources. So if I want to go out and learn more, there’s a handy list waiting for me. I love when authors do this, and I was surprised by how much was actual fact.
I’d recommend this especially to readers of historical fiction, people interested in the 19th century, or anyone who enjoyed Dracula. This book will be released tomorrow. Buy it on Amazon.