Jack the Ripper is on the loose on the streets of London, murdering the innocent and terrifying the nation. But this isn’t England in the 1800’s anymore…nope this is the 21st Century and new spree of serial murders are terrorising modern day London.
Enter Rory Deveux. A teenage year old girl from Louisiana, whose moved here and due to start Wexford, a prep school in London. Her arrival coincides with the first of the ‘Ripper’ murders, all of which are mimicking the infamous serial killer from centuries past. Not that she’s supposed to be worrying about that, she has to stumble her way through British life, mountains of schoolwork, boy trouble and hellish Hockey P.E. sessions.
But Rory is soon forced to care as the police force struggle to piece together serial murders with no other witnesses, evidence or leads…except for the fact that Rory saw a man that no one else could see, who’s now the prime suspect who’s being hailed the new Jack the Ripper. As the only eye witness Rory’s seemingly quiet life is thrown into the world of the paranormal, near death experiences and secret police force with some unique talents.
So what’s my verdict?
Having gone into this novel without the knowledge it was a ghost story and knowing that Maureen Johnson’s style was geared towards teen coming-of-age novels, I can safely say this book surprised me at every turn.
First of all, the premise of the book itself was brilliant. The humble ghost story is one we’ve seen countless times before, but Johnson manages to create a fantasy lore that’s both honest and believable. As Jack the Ripper 2.0 stalks the streets the setting only aides the tension throughout the story. The grey skies of London, cobbled streets and aesthetic of the ‘old City’ lends to the Gothic tone, but kept alongside Rory’s narrative the traditional ghost story is fast forwarded into the present day.
Speaking of Rory…fumbling and talkative Rory is certainly your typical teen Mary-Sue at the beginning of the novel, but her character evolves with her new found knowledge. She proves she can be the hero yet still be the girl-next-door. And then there’s the host of secondary characters, Stephen Dene (tall, dark and focused on the job), Callum (butch, laddish yet brave), Boo (a TOWIE girl with major smarts), Jazza (Rory’s adorable new best friend) and many other colourful characters both alive and dead. But don’t be fooled by the YA stamp on this, Johnson can get graphic especially as the story climaxes. It’s a classic 'whodunit' with a paranormal twist and I couldn’t recommend this book enough and…
…it’s a series! The sequel The Madness Underneath is already out and book #3 The Shadow Cabinet is set for release at the end of the year (so far away, wah!), so get reading!
Panic: The Smiths; Bubbles: Biffy Clyro; The Dark Of The Matinee: Franz Ferdinand; Hide & Seek: Imogen Heap; Overture: The Phantom of the Opera OST; Faint: Linkin Park; Monster: Paramore
For lovers of…The Mortal Instruments, Beautiful Creatures, Being Human and Supernatural