The Unofficial Grand Orchestra

Since I started reading manga steadily in 2012, I’ve discovered so many unique story lines and wonderful, warped, and wonderfully warped characters.  I’ve reread Kaori Yuki’s Grand Guignol Orchestra series four times since then, so I thought it was about time to write a review of the five-volume series.

Heading up the unofficial Grand Orchestra, Lucille and his companions Kohaku and Gwindel travel from town to town, entertaining the masses, making money, and facing their toughest audience.  Guignols, people infected with a deadly virus that turns them into zombie dolls, ravage the world.  Intent to stop the guignols before they destroy humanity, the Grand Orchestra roves the countryside, killing guignols as they go.  Unbeknownst to most of them, the town that they’re about to enter is full of secrets.  Deadly, tragic secrets.

I was thoroughly disturbed the first time I read Grand Guignol Orchestra but as I reread them over the years, I saw how horribly twisted and painfully human the characters were.  The series was definitely one you’d have to read a second time to fully understand because there were so many intricacies that would be difficult to appreciate the first time around.  Filled with more heartache and creepiness than I bargained for, Kaori Yuki has managed to pick my emotions apart in five volumes.  The short story at the end of the fifth volume had me biting my nails and reading through my fingers.

I rate the series as a whole four out of five stars.

Pass the Scalpel, Please.

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You better watch out,

You better hide.

You better run.

I’m telling you why,

Jack the Ripper is coming to town!

As you can tell from that little ditty I came up with above, I’m obsessed with Jack the Ripper.  Well, not just him.  I’m a big fan of unsolved crimes and the more sinister parts of history.  So, it’s safe to say that when I stumbled upon Kerri Maniscalco’s Stalking Jack the Ripper on Goodreads, I was ecstatic.  Not only had one of my favorite authors, A.G. Howard, enjoyed it, but it had received a shower of positive tweets and reviews.  After devouring this gem, I’ve come to the conclusion that the praise was not undeserved.

Audrey Rose Wadsworth is not a person to be trifled with.  Determined to be both strong and elegant, she struggles to stand by her refreshingly modern ideals in an era where most wanted women to keep their mouth shut.  Secretly apprenticed to her uncle in forensics, she and her fellow apprentice, Thomas Cresswell, combine their sharp wit and observational skills to uncover the identity of the infamous Jack the Ripper.  Flirtatious banter are shared between the Audrey Rose and Thomas, not only in dark alleyways but over cold corpses, scalpels in hand.

But there is more to this case than meets-the-eye and romance is far from the only thing on their minds.  All the clues are pointing to someone close to Audrey Rose.  If only she can discover who the killer is before she becomes the next victim.

I am beyond pleased that this was the start of my 2017 reading challenge.  It was a clever romp in the gritty streets of a Gothic and gory Victorian England.  I can’t wait to read more of Ms. Maniscalco’s books.  I rate this five out of five stars.