Review of The Name Of The Star by Maureen Johnson
Series: Shades Of London #1
Genres: Paranormal, Mystery
Release Date: 29/09/2011
Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London to start a new life at boarding school just as a series of brutal murders mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper killing spree of more than a century ago has broken out across the city. The police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man believed to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him - the only one who can see him. And now Rory has become his next target...unless she can tap her previously unknown abilities to turn the tables.
I'm obsessed with Jack The Ripper. I'm not sure why but I imagine everyone else who is obsessed with the Ripper has the same thoughts. As this book puts it, he is the first modern serial killer - and he was never caught. This book is perfect for a gory history fan like me because it loves London's dark and bloody history just as much as I do.
When I first read this back in 2011 I didn't think it was that special. I don't know what I was thinking because this book is quite special, it was released around a time when every book featuring something of the superatural was basically a huge cover up for an insta-love romance and I grew to hate them. This book does have a light romance in it, but nothing more than you'd expect from the average teenager. Non-spoiler: No thousand year old men profess their undying love for her.
“No one hid their interest when I walked into the room. I'm not sure if it was the news about Boo or my general appearance. At home, people would have asked. People would have been crawling all over me for information. At Wexford, they seemed to extract what they wanted to know by covert staring.”
The story is, Rory's parents decide to travel away from their hometown of Louisiana (did I butcher that spelling?) and as it's Rory's final school year, she gets to decide where they go. She choosing London because she's crazy and moves into a girl's dorm while her parents travel to Bristol. Then some people are brutally murdered, recreating the crimes of Jack The Ripper.
I really love Rory and I could see her being my friend. She's really weird and exactly what I look for in a friend. She thinks that London is really far down south and that Brisol and London are really far apart by UK standards (we're pretty aware that we live on a small island). She also seems to think that Bristol is towards the middle of the country, whereas we'd consider it down south. Plus she chokes on her dinner sometimes which I can definitely relate to.
“England and Britain and the United Kingdom are not the same thing. England is the country. Britain is the island containing England, Scotland, and Wales. The United Kingdom is the formal designation of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as a political entity. If you mess this up, you will be corrected. Repeatedly.”
This is clearly the start of what I'm hoping will be an epic paranormal investigation series, so I'm hoping other major events in London will be covered over time too. Jack The Ripper is fascinating but have you heard of the Ratcliffe Highway murders? Or we could go further back with nods to Shakespeare's time. I've been disappointed in sequels before but I'm going to choose to be cautiously optimistic with this one.
If you want a great look at London's dark past without feeling like you're reading a textbook the size of it, I highly recommend you let Dr Matthew Green take you by the hand and show you all of it in London: A Travel Guide Through Time. It's not for the faint of heart but honestly one of the best history books I've ever read and I never once felt like I was being pelted with information.