“She died.” (Spectacle)
Got your attention didn’t I? Well keep going and you’ll see what I mean 🙂
Praise for Spectacle:
“Clever and full of murder, Jodie Lynn Zdrok’s Spectacle had my eyes glued to the pages as the body count rose, and mystery upon mystery stacked upon mystery as our heroine closed in on a killer who seemed miles ahead of Parisian authorities. Fans of serial killers and criminal investigations will find much to love, and fascinating passages about morgue tours will appeal to the morbid rubbernecker in us all.” —Kendare Blake, #1 NYT bestselling author of Three Dark Crowns series
“With a fierce heroine, grisly 19th century murders, and a mystery that left me on the edge of my seat, Spectacle is an immersive, Parisian, YA from Hell that I absolutely devoured!” —Gretchen McNeil,author of Ten and #MurderTrending
“Zdrok explores the universal fascination with death, set among the darker corners of 1887 Paris, and the very idea of the morgue viewings (to which parents brought their children) is chilling…Grisly, plot driven–and very creepy. Fans of historical thrillers that invoke the enduring spirit of Jack the Ripper will have fun.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Hints of the murderer’s identity are subtly and intriguingly folded into the story, and unresolved plot threads pave the way for future cases, during which Nathalie can discover more about her powers. The blend of history, mystery, and fantasy makes this debut novel a good pick for fans of Libba Bray’s Diviners series of William Ritter’s Jackaby books.” —Booklist
“The book seamlessly brings several threads together: the mystery of the murder and the horrors of the killing themselves; the beauty, bustle and darkness of nineteenth-century Paris (the killer’s pursuit of Nathalie through the catacombs is thrillingly described); the bizarre but historically based practices of morgue viewing and blood transfusions for magic; and the destructing nature of family secrets and their generational effects….the tension amps up to a gasp-worthy climax.” —Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“Zdrok has concocted an ambitious Victorian-era story. ….Intricately plotted, the story’s pace burns slow before racing ahead to set up and topple assumptions about the true identity of the Dark Artist.” –School Library Journal
Sixteen-year-old Nathalie Baudin writes the daily morgue column for Le Petit Journal. Her job is to summarize each day’s new arrivals, a task she finds both fascinating and routine. That is, until the day she has a vision of the newest body, a young woman, being murdered–from the perspective of the murderer himself.
When the body of another woman is retrieved from the Seine days later, Paris begins to buzz with rumors that this victim may not be the last. Nathalie’s search for answers sends her down a long, twisty road involving her mentally ill aunt, a brilliant but deluded scientist, and eventually into the Parisian Catacombs. As the killer continues to haunt the streets of Paris, it becomes clear that Nathalie’s strange new ability may make her the only one who can discover the killer’s identity–and she’ll have to do it before she becomes a target herself….
I was ready for this book the very day I first heard about it. Not even kidding. Look at my Goodreads, I’ve had it shelved since 2018. 19th century Paris, pseudoscience, the catacombs, and a Jack the Ripper-ish killer: SOLD.
Zdrok draws you right into Paris of the late 19th century. Spectacle opens with our main character Nathalie getting ready to head into the Morgue to write that day’s column. It’s once she is inside the Morgue that things start to get interesting. She sees the body of a young girl laid on display when she experiences something that she can’t quite explain. She sees the murder committed….backwards in a vision.
It is the books that open with a bang that get people’s attention. I know I wasn’t expecting that when I first started this book. However there was something about it setting the tone for the period. It’s a society obsessed with the macabre….and it was about to get even more so.
With that, Zdrok starts to let go on the pacing, allowing Nathalie to keep her own pace as the mystery builds, and the characters grow. It was those things that led to a world that sucked you right in. It was this very thing that allows us a real look into Paris of the 1880s with the danger lurking in the background. Of course since there is still a killer on the loose. We’re not sure how this is going to affect Nathalie….yet. Zdrok teases each reveal carefully, dropping new hints and twists that pull Nathalie in, propelling the story forward.
I wouldn’t want to follow anyone else around 1880s Paris other than Nathalie even as she’s stalking a murderer. She’s determined, loyal, curious and to top off, complicated. All of which make a main character. Nathalie isn’t on her own throughout this adventure, she is guided by a rather eccentric cast of her friends and family. Some of my favorites are when she’s visiting her aunt, and despite the issues there, she treats her aunt like she’s still a person and not a monster. The same with her mother. Zdrok does a wonderful job navigating the complications of a mother-daughter relationship with Nathalie on the cusp of being an adult herself.
At the center of this book it reads like a mystery except it’s not. It has a similar over arching tone to Kerri Maniscalco’s Stalking Jack the Ripper series. Both Nathalie and Audrey Rose are more introspective, constantly questioning their roles. The detective work that both of them do in their books is just as important as their journeys as the case is. Spectacle is character-driven with the clues and the twists taking a seat. I was so satisfied by the merge of these two narratives.
Even with all of the mystery, danger and intrigue there is still fun to be had. In fact, Nathalie’s best friend, Simone, works in a club. She also adheres to some mysticism, which leads to an interesting subplots. Then there’s Christophe. I’m so glad romance is minor element in this book. The interactions between him and Nathalie are so real and natural.
It’s one of the beautiful moments in this book. Yes there is a serial killer on the loose with a sprinkle of the paranormal, some of it kept quiet. Despite all of those things it feels natural.
Spectacle is an absolutely brilliant debut, and I can’t wait to see what else Zdrok will bring to the table.
Rating: 5/5 Stars
About Jodie 🙂 :
Jodie Lynn Zdrok holds two MAs in European History (Providence College, Brown University) and an MBA (Clark University). In addition to being an author, she’s a marketing professional, a freelancer, and an unapologetic Boston sports fan. She enjoys traveling, being a foodie, doing sprint triathlons and enabling cats.
She is represented by Ginger Clark of Curtis Brown, Ltd.
Where to keep up with Jodie:
Website Twitter Goodreads Facebook Instagram
DUH DUH DUHHHHH……stay tuned to for a surprise….
I was lucky enough to get to ask Jodie a few questions about Spectacle and her process while writing it!
What about France in the 19th century made you decided to write Spectacle in this period? The culture? History? Art?
J: The cultural history of the period was my inspiration. It was an exciting time for great cities, with people coming together in new ways thanks to transportation, electricity, communication, and infrastructure. More people than ever could experience Paris in a public space–the theater, a museum, the morgue, cafes–and feel like they were part of something bigger, completely alienated, or something in between. It was a tremendous cultural shift and, I imagine, a fascinating time to be alive.
Would you visit the time period? If you could, anything in particular you’d like to see in its early years?
J: Absolutement! I confess….I would go to the morgue. I’d also like to see the department stores and shopping arcades of the day. And I’d be curious to see what the Catacombs, Louvre, and Pere Lachaise Cemetery, all still thriving, were like back then.
Did the story of any other famous killers (ex HH Holmes) inspire the one in Spectacle?
Yes, for sure! Jack the Ripper was the inspiration. I wondered what it might have been like to have Ripper-style murders in Paris when the morgue was a sensation, and that’s where the idea for Spectacle began. I have only a superficial knowledge of H.H. Holmes, but I will say that in general terms (i.e, serial killer at a world’s fair), his story inspired the events in Spectacle’s sequel (tentatively titled Exposition).
Through your drafting process is there something you found more difficult to get through? Edits? Drafting? A particular scene (spoiler free of course!)
Spectacle had many revisions, but I’d say the most challenging part was the ending–the last hundred pages or so. I rewrote that more than anything, by far.
How was your research process? Any tips for someone trying to write their own historical fiction?
I have two graduate degrees in history, so thankfully I had a good foundation in terms of research materials. I relied on books, articles, newspaper accounts, the internet, and some of my own travels to France. In terms of tips for anyone trying to write historical fiction: Look at many, different sources and do a lot of cross-checking and verifying. Immerse yourself in the period as much as possible, and be mindful of language (particularly in dialogue) so that it’s not artificially formal, anachronistic, or too 21st century.
Should Spectacle hit the screen (PULLING FOR THIS), who would you want to playing your leads?
(THANK YOU!) I haven’t thought about this until seeing this question! These actors are older than the characters in Spectacle, but…Sophie Turner (Game of Thrones) would make a great Nathalie, I could see Harry Styles as Christophe, and Eliza Scanlen (Sharp Objects) would do well with Simone. (And if we’re skewing younger? Millie Bobby Brown as Nathalie.)
Now for that surprise, I mentioned?
IT’S A GIVEAWAY! Open Internationally! Must be 13+ to enter!
FIVE Lucky Winners will a Copy of Spectacle by Jodie Lynn Zdrok
Link here: Rafflecopter
This giveaway ends April 15th, 2019!
Now if I haven’t convinced you that this book is an absolute must on your TBR pile, check out the other bloggers on this tour! I’m sure you’ll find this book is definitely worth it.
Many thanks to Jean Book Nerd for the opportunity to take part in this tour!
Jodie, Congrats on an absolutely BRILLIANT debut!
Can’t wait for Exposition 🙂
Happy Reading 🙂
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