The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
Also known as Shades of London: Book 1
“The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it’s the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper events of more than a century ago.
Soon “Rippermania” takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was walking with her at the time, didn’t notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, why has Rory become his next target? In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities.”1
What are the odds that I choose a book about Jack the Ripper? I started reading Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness. To continue with my witch theme, I read The Witch’s Daughter by Paula Brackston which spends some time in the past during the Ripper murders. I randomly chose The Name of the Star off my shelf, and it revolves around the Ripper. I think for my next book I will have to go completely out there to avoid this pattern. I did learn some interesting facts about “Jack the Ripper” during my reads and some side research as well. A very interesting, and disturbing topic. A mystery that will probably never be solved.
Rory, or Aurora, takes us from small town Louisiana to the big city of London, England. Her parents are lawyers and decide to move from their small town and let Rory choose where they should move. The parents don’t really appear in the book until the ending, they are kind of just there as a beginning and filler. Rory’s adventures in England revolve around her new home, Wexford. Wexford is an english boarding school for both boys and girls. She has also arrived during the same time as some chilling murders that resemble those of Jack the Ripper. The victims share similar names, and are even murdered in the same way and locations. Rory is trying to have a normal teenage life as well as ensure she keeps her grades to stay at Wexford. When she becomes the only witness in seeing the killer, people start to question if she really saw anything. There are a few who don’t think she is crazy, and they have their own reasons as to why. Even in stressful times and possible impending death there is still humour with Rory.
p. 262 “I looked at the stained-glass image of the lamb in the window above me, but that only reminded me that lambs are famous for being led to slaughter, or sometimes hanging out with lions in ill-advised relationships.”
Is it wrong that I only think of Twilight?
I was really interested in following the whole Ripper story. I was able to pick out things from the last book I read, which made things more fun and exciting (and also appreciate the witch’s daughter more). As the story progresses, I started to wonder where Johnson was going with the story, but I was definitely hooked. I think the talk of ghosts was what threw me off as this was not something I was expecting.
p. 209 “…ghosts are just people. … They aren’t scary. They aren’t out to get you…they aren’t spooky or weird, and they don’t fly around with sheets on their heads. … ghosts are people who just haven’t…died completely. Their death process isn’t complete, and they don’t leave.”
There are many enjoyable characters, and I always like when a book can make me laugh. I also enjoy fiction that is able to give you factual information to take away from the story. During the time of crisis and fear of the unknown Ripper, there is a reference to the second world war. The saying of “Keep calm and carry on” was just a random saying I had seen on t-shirts and other miscellaneous items. I was completely unaware that this was a reference to world war two, and I wonder how many others are as oblivious as I am. This also makes me wonder what other sayings that look like nonsense might hold a message and facts behind them.
This is yet another book that I wasn’t expecting to be a series. I was thinking it would be a stand alone novel that I could get in, and get out and be done. As much as I love getting into a story and having it turn into a series full of excitement and wonder, sometimes I just want to have a mini adventure and come back home. I’m wondering what the next book will be like. The ending leaves some ideas, but I’m thinking that the next book is going to be a little more kooky and ghost filled. It is going to have to have a really strong and thrilling story in order to hold your attention, because there isn’t really a mystery to look forward to being solved.
It is a quick and entertaining read and I would suggest giving this one a chance.
1. Book Summary