Genres: Young adult, paranormal – ghosts, mystery.
Rory Deveaux arrives in England from America with the hope that she will fit in at her new home – a London boarding school. Unbeknown to her, the area she’s moving to is currently subjected to ‘Rippermania’ because someone is mimicking the notorious Jack the Ripper murders that occurred in 1888. Rory becomes caught up in the events when she’s the only person to catch a glimpse of the killer.
As a Londoner myself, the Jack the Ripper plot and London setting were the main reasons why I wanted to read The Name of the Star. It did not disappoint in regards to this. The book is packed with details about the Jack the Ripper case that I didn’t know, and this was spectacularly interwoven with Rory’s time spent at Wexford Academy. This is only my second Maureen Johnson book but I realise that she has a style; she likes to have a slow build-up and describe everything in detail – the settings, the culture, the thoughts of the protagonist. I love this if it’s a story I’m interested in, and I definitely was. I love seeing English culture through an American’s eyes and I thought Maureen got our Britishisms correct for the most part. Due to the subject of the book, I assumed that the atmosphere would constantly be eerie and bleak but there were many enjoyable humorous moments throughout.
We find out why the book series is called Shades of London through the mystery murders and the inclusion of paranormal entities. Rory suddenly attracts the villain’s attention and the storyline rushes forward in a flurry as the lives of Rory and her friends are threatened. I suggest reading the book very late at night; it was a thrilling experience. My only qualm about the novel is that I was not entirely impressed with the motivation behind the murders. After the big build up, I expected a little bit more. Nonetheless, I still really enjoyed the book as a whole.
The Name of the Star is a wonderfully unique addition to the many young adult novels out there right now that involve the paranormal. The sequel is titled The Madness Underneath and I’m looking forward to seeing where Maureen Johnson takes us.
My Rating: ★★★★