Top positive review
Disturbing content and physically too heavy for comfort
Reviewed in the United States on November 14, 2020
Above all, I wish a softcover version of this book would be available to buy for people who are not into electronic reading. I bought it because I wanted to spend a quiet fall evening reading it by my fireplace. That didn't happen. The hardcover version is extremely cumbersome to hold and read, just too heavy for comfort. It is also annoyingly glossy. I couldn't read it on my sunny desk -- the pages would glint too much. I couldn't read it under my usual lamp because the glossy print and writing would be lost in the reflected glare, no matter how I held the book (and it is a heavy book indeed). It took great effort to hold to read because of its weight. So all of these factors took the pleasure out of reading it. Even if this had been a thoroughly enjoyable book, its weight and gloss alone would have taken the joy out of reading it. When you read a book, you want to focus on the content and not on the physical form of the book itself or on the light falling on it at every turn of page...
Then there's the content. What can I say. It is psychologically disturbing. The story zips past fast, in a few panels, and then intermittently slows down to a crawl and goes on and on page after page after page about some action of the main character. You see pages and pages relishing a single murder -- blood, gore, intestines, viscera, bloody panel after bloody panel until you ask yourself -- is this book really about Jack the Ripper or a release of the author's morbid interest in the act itself in the name of artistic portrayal? It is not a story for this reason -- it is a movie set in two dimesional pictures sequenced on paper. The general layout of the book, the colors etc are depressigly dark. The details are hard to see. Mostly dark colored panels throughout. Its almost as if there were no bright days in the 1800s, and everything was grisly and blackish, even the sky. This book is a very one-sided and very sickening portrayal of life, almost as if there is something psychologically not quite ok with the world it exists in. I can't put my finger on what that is.
I nevertheless give it a 4 star because It is certainly a poignant whatever-it-is, and so probably deserves the awards it received. Also, creating a graphic novel is extremely difficult. It takes hard work and an immense amount of talent. Every graphic novel, and every graphic novelist out there is a force to be admired. I totally admire that aspect of the content in this book.
But personally, I am sorry I bought this book. I am sorry I saw the morbid panels in it, I am sorry I let it into my life and mind. I am sorry I wasted precious time trying to justify it as I read it, and read it because I didn't find that justification, and felt cheated in the end. It did give me, and will give me those occassional nightmares for years to come. I once saw a deer hit by a car and it was alive, and I put that event in the same category as reading this book. It is not a book to pleasantly spend an evening with. It is not a companion, it is a sickness spilled on the cold stones of a dirty street in the 1800s., it is the blood gushing out of a fatal wound, it is the kind of force that draws a cult. It deserves an award for all of that, but I wouldn't wish it upon my world. I am sorry I read it.