Spectacle (Spectacle #1) By Jodie Lynn Zdrok

Paris, 1887.

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. Spectacle (Spectacle #1)

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A murder mystery set in Paris, in 1887? I was so thrilled about this, more when I saw that Nathalie Beaudin had visions! I loved how the mystery and the supernatural were mixed, it made everything realistic and plausible. All the emotions, the responsibilities that Nathalie experienced in that whole summer, presented with the historic view of a sixteen year old girl, were very interesting and are the reason I devoured this book. 9780765399687 ARC received from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review

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Another historical fiction! I never seemed to enjoy this genre much before because I felt that they were either too dense or too slow. And while this book was a tad on the slow side, it was also really interesting and quite an adventure! After falling in love with the Stalking Jack the Ripper series last year I’ve been dying for another gory old timey mystery and when I read the blurb for this one I was so hopeful that I had found just the right book to bring my search to an end. While I thoroughly enjoyed reading Spectacle, there was also something that kept me from truly loving it.

Spectacle is also one of the many books set in France that I have read here lately. I seem to have a theme I am chasing in my book selections lately. Or maybe its the authors that have been on a theme to their writing lately. Did the chicken or the egg come first? The world may never know.. But I digress, the setting, while familiar also took a peak at the darker more dangerous side of Paris. It wasn’t all cafe life and trips to the Eiffel Tower. This book was filled with murder, serial killers, and danger. This was a side of France that didn’t thrive in romance and wealth.

This book is about a girl named Nathalie who after her mother is injured and her dad leaves on business, she must find a job through her fathers connection at the local newspaper to help provide for her family. Missing out on a summer away with her best school friend, Nathalie is the new journalist for the local morgue column. Her job entails daily visits to the morgue to deliver the news on the latest passings of life. But on one strange visit while studying the body of a young girl close to her own age, she just happens to touch the glass only to be trapped in a vision through the eyes of the murderer. From that point on Nathalie must decide if this strange new power is real, or if she is losing her mind like her poor aunt Brigitte. And is she willing to accept the consequences of using such power? Is finding the murderer of these girls worth possibly becoming insane?

I really liked the bond of friends and the focus on family and the relationships between them and the main character Nathalie. It all seemed real and honest, there were hardships yes, and regret, but it also showed the real range of emotions one might go through if stuck in a tough position like Nathalie was. She experienced so much death and fear at the hands of this psycho killer and no one person would ever come out of something like that unchanged. It was also refreshing that while there were hints of romance and flirtation, it wasn’t the main focus of the book. While this is normally what I live off of in books that I read, it was nice to know that even though there wasn’t a romance per say, it was still an engaging and interesting read.

My main complaint would be the ending. I don’t want to give away too much as to spoil anyone, but I don’t think its even fair to call it a cliffhanger. The ending was more like missing the top step while climbing the stairs in the dark. One minute you’re trekking along thinking everything is fine and normal, and then whoof, no step. No more stairs to climb. Totally unexpected. Just like the ending to this book. It just hits you out of nowhere, almost feeling like its right in the middle of a sentence. I kept flipping pages thinking, there’s no way that’s how this ends. It feels completely unfinished and that is the worst feeling in the world at the end of a book. I’m not sure if there is another book in the future to continue on with this story, and if there isn’t then I would say don’t even bother reading this because you will never have closure in your life again. Okay, maybe that was a little dramatic, but still. YOU CAN’T JUST END A BOOK LIKE THAT! In the meantime I am going to believe that there will be a Spectacle #2 otherwise this will just make me even more angry.

In summary, this was a really interesting and captivating read. I was extremely interested in finding the killer and found it to be a really well written book. Although I didn’t care much for the ending, I would continue reading this if it ever becomes a series. I’m starting to like more of the historical fiction genre here lately, its fun branching out to find that you do actually enjoy some different styles of writing than what you might be used to reading. Because isn’t that what reading is supposed to do, take us out of our norm, break us out of our shells to experience what we normally wouldn’t? I’d like to think so.

9780765399687 I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Spectacle by Jodie Lynn Zdrok is a pretty fantastic debut YA historical fantasy mystery set in fin de siècle Paris. I enjoyed all of the historical detail that's gone into the story, like the construction of the Eiffel Tower for example. I also particularly enjoyed getting to know Nathalie. She's a great protagonist. Her curiosity (things get a bit morbid, fair warning), determination, and dedication are quite refreshing. All that said I was also hooked on working out the mystery surrounding the fantastic abilities Nathalie has discovered she has while working on her morgue report for the newspaper and a Jack the Ripper-esqe killer behind a recent string of murders in the city. Plus, I just have to mention that I appreciated the female friendships and the scenes between Nathalie and her mother. Honestly, this was almost a five star read for me, but sometimes the pacing drags and that ending was a bit cruel. Fingers crossed that Zdrok's upcoming release, Exposition, is going to be a sequel because I need to know more. I highly recommend Spectacle to fans of Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco and Penny Dreadful. 9780765399687 You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight

Oh, this is so delightfully messed up! I mean it, it is sometimes downright gruesome, so if you can't handle death and morgues and such... might want to skip it. But if you can handle it, this was a really good one! Let us discuss why!

•Nathalie was morbidly curious, yet still relatable. I mean, I don't frequent places of death personally, and I imagine most of you don't either. But I understood Nathalie's inquisitiveness too. Especially since apparently, this was a legit pastime in France. (Can we please have another shout-out to how delightfully strange old-timey France was? Love it.) Plus she isn't like, messed up- just interested in death and the macabre a bit more than the average bear. No shame, girl.

•The mystery kept me on my toes. I cannot tell you how many times I wrote wait maybe it was him! in my Kindle notes. I was usually wrong, so sue me. That's the good part though- I was wrong, because the mystery was good. I love a good whodunit. And this was one.

•It was thought-provoking. So many questions about death, and choices, and more stuff that I can't talk about because it would probably be spoilery, but I loved it.

•Friendships FTW! I love me some strong female friendships, and they were front and center in this novel! Again, I don't want to give too much away because they are important to the story, but the relationships felt really authentic.

•It tugged at my heartstrings a bit! That was unexpected, actually. It's not often that a murder mystery gets me teary, but here we are. (Also, does the fact that I list crying as a positive make me a complete masochist, or...?)

My only real qualm was that I would have liked a bit more from the ending? It definitely answered some questions, but then others were left more open. I assume there's a chance this will get a sequel? I do hope so, as I'd definitely be reading it! Also, it's pretty much romance-free, which isn't exactly a negative, but I wouldn't turn one down, either!

Bottom Line: Pretty messed up, but in the good way! A mystery that kept me guessing and characters I enjoyed make me hope this doesn't end up being a standalone! 9780765399687 Two and a half stars rounded up to be kind because I had A Week and perhaps I took it out a biitttt on this book.

Where to start? I think this is the umpteenth book this year with a really good idea and poor execution.

Fair warning in advance, I’m probably going to tear this apart, and I don’t think it’s only the bad week I had talking here. It was a debut, so perhaps some things can be forgiven – but honestly, I was finding editor and copy editor issues throughout this edition too, so…

A female-led slightly-supernatural take on a French Jack the Ripper? Sounds good, right? But from the start with the audiobook, wherein the narrator uses a wonky French accent for any dialogue, I was off-put. So, I switched to the Kindle edition, and nothing improved. In fact, the bad metaphors, implausible dialogue/character reactions to things, and generally poor writing just became more noticeable. I’m not sure why I kept going – maybe I thought there’d be more romance, or the killer would get someone we cared about?

The bad, admittedly the majority of the book for me:
Main character is 16, a minor therefore, and is in instant puppy love with this older police officer, who meets her one-on-one for coffee around Paris. Even -if- she’s dressed as a boy (there is no mention made of her deepening her voice or otherwise doing anything that would actually protect herself, but she is tall so the charade must be perfect right?), this sort of behavior in Victorian-era France just doesn’t seem right. It looks like contemporary standards (and even then it’s weird) transported in time which for me, a history buff, doesn’t fly well. We don’t understand why she even likes this guy – something about his calm, reassuring demeanor, which put me in mind of a grandfather or something to be honest – and then the romance fizzles out as a fiancée of his is pulled out of the woodwork.

In fact, another big, bad issue is that plot developments were treated like rabbits pulled out of a hat the entire time. Need a convenient explanation for something? Her boss or one of her parents will pull out one suitable to keep the plot going. And Nathalie was a very passive heroine it felt like - yes, she’d wander the city in boy clothes and started having visions when she touched the glass in the morgue viewing room and sought to figure them out – but people tell her things, or things happen around her, and then the plot moves forward. For a while she refuses to use the gift or whatever it is, and girls keep dying. She’s so passive it hurts.

The victim the killer gets who I think we were supposed to feel distraught about? She's the protag's cousin, a girl out of town for 60% of the book and for whom I didn't feel any attachment. The best friend, a cabaret performer, would have been a much better narrative choice. The book was already really grim though, so...

The ‘magic’ in the world is ridiculous and goes unexplained. Some mad doctor experimented with fusing “magic and science” together and giving blood transfusions to people, making them X-men – I mean, “Insightfuls” with psychic communication, healing, or clairvoyant powers. There is no mention of where this magic came from, and frankly it’s a major head-scratching point. Very shaky ground for a plot base. There’s also a debate over whether or not there can be ‘natural-born’ Insightfuls, and I’m thinking okay but a woman with it in her blood who has a child? Seems natural it’d pass on but the book is like Nah bro. Okay then. I think in the end they concede our protag is a natural born one, but I didn’t care by then.

Also, as much as everyone loves Paris, it felt like a namedropping game. Has she been to the Louvre? Oh, she’s gone down the Champs-Élysées and to Père Lachaise Cemetery? Her friend works at Le Chat Noir? The only cool part was mention of the Catacombs tbh.

ALSO. As someone who studied French for years but is a bit rusty admittedly, even I noticed the flaws in the French sprinkled through the English dialogue. Maybe the Kindle edition suffered from a different editor, but there’s a part where a character says “absolutement” when they certainly meant “absolument”, and it’s like…simple checking would have prevented this?

The small amount of good: Lead character has a white cat named Stanley who does very catlike adorable things throughout the plot. Some female characters had interesting lots in life – her mother is a renowned seamstress and dressmaker, and a villain was female and very interested/schooled in science, so that was cool. The main character admits a taste for the macabre and carries around a vial of dirt from the Catacombs, which is extremely On My Level.

That’s…it. I don’t think I’ll stick around for the sequel the strange ending definitely set up for.


Nathalie Baudin writes the morgue column for Le Petit Journal, which is all the more impressive considering she’s a sixteen-year-old in 1887. Though she longs for a more challenging journalist position, she dutifully attends morgue viewings each day without incident. That is, until the body of a murder victim is displayed, and Nathalie has a vision of the killing in brutal detail. Soon, Paris is in a panic as more bodies are discovered and someone begins taking gleeful credit for their demise— the Dark Artist. Nathalie realizes, with the aid of her newfound visions, she might might be the only one able to find the killer’s identity and bring peace to city, even if she risks becoming a victim herself.

Great books, in their opening pages, totally transport readers to a different time and place. Here, readers are plopped into a stunning portrayal of 1880s Paris, and it’s due to the careful direction of author Jodie Lynn Zdrok. She opens with a bang, expertly twisting the start around Nathalie attending a crowded corpse viewing at La Morgue and then suffering a psychic vision. It’s doubly unexpected, but sets the tone perfectly— here’s a society obsessed with death, and it’s about to get even more macabre.

But then Zdrok pulls back, letting some slack in the pacing. She takes her time building the mystery, building the characters, and, ultimately, crafting an engrossing world. The payoff is immense. This glimpse into Paris feels real, and there’s an ever-present danger— after all, there’s a killer on the loose. But it’s not immediately evident how this directly affects Nathalie. Zdrok dangles each reveal carefully, dropping new twists that draw Nathalie in and propel the action forward at the most delicious times.

Really, there’s perhaps no better character to follow around 1880s Paris as she stalks a murderer than Nathalie. She’s cool, determined, and complicated— everything a main character should be, and more. She’s helped along by a brilliant cast of friends and family. Scenes with her mother are highlights, and Zdrok, with finesse, navigates the complications of a mother-daughter relationship as Nathalie moves to the cusp of adulthood.

At its core, this book is a mystery, but it certainly isn’t a standard one. In fact, it tosses out the formula entirely. There’s more introspection, with Nathalie constantly questioning her role in the sleuthing process. Her detective work is just as much about her journey as it is about the case, which clicks. It’s a character-driven process, with clues and red herrings taking a backseat at times, but Zdork merges these two narratives in such a satisfying way.

All of this is not to suggest there isn’t a bit of fun to be had. Nathalie’s best friend, Simone, works in a club and adheres to some mysticism, providing both fun and tricky subplots. And there’s some mild flirting with Christophe, an inspector. Refreshingly, romance is not a major element of the book, and their interactions feel sweet and perfectly natural.

That’s the beauty of Spectacle. Sure, there’s a serial killer on the loose and some paranormal aspects that are being kept hush-hush, but everything feels natural. That’s an amazing feat on Zdrok’s part, and it’s resulted in a brilliant debut.

Note: I received a free ARC of this book through NetGalley. 9780765399687 Hi friends! I'm posting all the main points of my review, but if you want my cheesy jokes and rambling weirdness check out my blog review (link in bio!)

This follows a reporter named Nathalie, who, while visiting the morgue for an article, touches the viewing glass and gets a glimpse of the murder. In reverse. So she’s obviously shook, and is trying to reconcile what she knows about the world around her and the secrets everyone has been keeping from her. Meanwhile, the killer? Yeah, he knows who she is…

This was spectacular. YA mysteries are far too often filled with petty drama, unlikable characters, and predictable twists. Spectacle, however, was none of these things. The author did a beautiful job of balancing gorgeous French phrases and historical buildings with just a touch of magic.

Jodie’s prose paints pictures in your mind, it plants thoughts of true depth to be pondered upon at a later notice. That’s a more fancy way of saying I LOVED HER WRITING *flails forever. Even if the flow was a little bit choppy, I found the entirety of it to be rather impressive for a debut author.

Nathalie was definitely a strong female character in many ways. Her dedication to being a reporter was actually rather inspirational, so don’t blame me when I run off to join the online newspaper. I will say that I sometimes felt like her personality wasn’t always steady. Sometimes she’d make choices I didn’t think went with choices she would otherwise make? And sometimes her actions would annoy me but that’s probably because I get impatient. And want the answers.

This was ridiculously twisty? Like, I THOUGHT I saw a couple of things coming but haha no. So many tiny details come into play later, but in ways I never expected. Of course, there were a few moments where I thought NOOOOO, FORCED ROMANCE but I was actually pleasantly surprised! Sometimes, I thought that the plot was a little scattered but I was honestly too caught up in everything to care.

And the magic was too perfect? Like, it’s magic/science and it’s so flipping cool. The way it’s integrated into the story is pure brilliance. THAT CLIFFHANGER THOUGH. I also really appreciate that Nathalie actually has a family? Which for some reason is rare in YA.

I’d totally recommend this to fans of Stalking Jack The Ripper! While it lacks the wonderful sass of Thomas Cresswell, it DOES have a female character placed in a “traditionally male role” in historical fiction, a murder mystery, and awesomeness. Except that this has a touch of magic, and a more well-thought out mystery!

So all in all, I was really, really happy with this one! I had so much fun with it and while I can see that some people won’t like it, this was exactly what I needed at exactly the right time. And I know that some of you will feel the same! Tell me: are you excited for this? What’s your favorite YA mystery?

A HUGE thank you to Tor Teen and NetGalley for providing me with this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review! 9780765399687 This was a disappointment. The historical details of Paris were a pleasant change of scene, so I’ve rounded up from 2.5 to 3 stars, but the story seemed all over the place. It was neither a satisfying ending nor a lure to the next book (if there is one). 9780765399687 Nathalie was never afraid of the dark, even as a child. If anything, she wanted to know what was in it.

Oh how I wanted to love this one.  It was right up my alley - historical fiction, strong feminist character and a cool mystery.  Unfortunately, this one feel a little flat in places for me.

Spectacle starts off very intriguing.  Set in Paris, in the 1880s, there is a man running around killing young women ala Ripper style that the press have named The Dark Artist.   Our main protagonist, Nathalie works for a newspaper company, writing the morgue column (dreary much!).  The morgue happens to be displaying dead people (including the murder victims) for all the world to see.  Kind of like a side-show attraction.  Nathalie frequents this place often to write her column and when she comes face-to-face with the first victim of the killer, she feels the sudden urge to touch the glass - showing her a vision of the murder taking place.  Obviously, she is scared of what she saw and if it's even real and what's more it seems that she can't figure out who the killer is, but the killer just might know who she is.

I first want to say that I did enjoy this book.  I probably went in with too high of expectations because I love this type of story.  It had lots of potential and lots going for it.  The main character was a strong female - she was 16 and talked much older but that is pretty normal in YA books, so that didn't bother me.  She's inquisitive, brave and ahead of her time and I really enjoyed her as a character.  I also loved that their are not one, but two different strong female/female friendships.  The friendships are beautiful to read and they weren't about boys.  I love seeing more and more of this in YA - I really do hope it becomes the norm, because it's wonderful to read and really connects me to the characters so much more.

Another wonderful thing was the author's beautiful writing and descriptions.   I could imagine Paris in that time because of her lovely writing and there is enough talk about French pastries that I had to go get a snack while I was reading (ok, a couple snacks, but who's counting!).  I also loved that the author chose to throw some French in here and there, it just really adds to the atmosphere and getting lost in it.

Ok, so what was my issue with the book? The pacing - the pacing wasn't just slow, it was repetitive.  I felt like I spent half the book, at least, reading about the main character not accepting her ability.  It really slowed the story down and didn't offer a ton, it should've been wrapped up quicker, in my opinion, or we should've been getting more in-depth useful information while she went through her whole ordeal.  Although, many of the descriptions are well written and beautiful - the back stories and learning about key information (such as experiments) weren't really fleshed out enough. I wanted more of that type of writing and less French pastries.

There was also a very small love interest story that seemed a little pointless, but maybe it comes into play more in the second book.  The mystery was interesting, but I wanted some kind of cool twist, which didn't happen at all.  I do think that the end set up the second story to be much more exciting though and hopefully answer a ton of unanswered questions.

Overall, I enjoyed the story and will likely try the second one.  I had no idea this book wasn't a stand-alone when I went into it but I'm fine with that.  This is Jodie Lynn Zdrok's debut novel and I think her writing is very strong and certainly an author to watch.  If you like stories like Stalking Jack the Ripper then you might enjoy this one.  Give it a shot and let me know what you think!

Thank you to netgalley and Tor Teen for an earc, in exchange for my honest review. 
9780765399687 Spectacle is a fantastic historical murder mystery with elements of the paranormal set in Paris, 1887.

The main character Sixteen-year-old Nathalie Baudin writes a grisly column for the local newspaper describing the unidentified bodies on display in the morgue, however one day while viewing the body of a murder victim she has a frightening and graphic vision of the girl’s murder. When a second girl is murdered Nathalie again has a vision of her death but realises her visions are from the perspective of the murderer himself! As more girls are murdered Nathalie reluctantly decides to use her visions to help discover the killer and she is soon drawn into a complex and intricate mystery involving medical experiments, individuals with special powers and her supposedly mentally ill aunt who has been incarcerated in an asylum…

I absolutely adored this book for many reasons. Firstly, I really enjoyed the author’s writing style and I thought the pacing and plot development were perfect – there is a lot going on but she connects all the different plot strands together beautifully. Also the mystery aspect was really well done – I had no idea who the killer was until the reveal and I was suspecting every character at one point. The author was obviously inspired to some extent by Jack the Ripper especially with the letters that the killer sends to the newspaper and the murders themselves are quite gory and gruesome. There is also a strong sense of menace running throughout the novel as you worry that Nathalie or one of her friends could be a victim. The 19th century Parisian setting was very enjoyable and the writing and descriptions were very evocative of that time period. The characters were also very interesting and multi-layered and full of surprises. The ending was quite sudden and mysterious so I am hoping that there will be a sequel.
I would really recommend this if you like historical murder mysteries and I would read more books by this author. E-Arc received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.