The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
Spending a few days in London on spring break, I naturally wanted to visit bookstores. I'd heard that Maureen Johnson (13 LITTLE BLUE ENVELOPES, SUITE SCARLETT) had signed some books at Waterstones at Picadilly Circus the week before. I was pleased to find one still there and grabbed it.
I didn't get a chance to really start on it until the plane trip home, but that truly was the perfect time, as the story walked through all the places I'd just visited. But this (or the 7-hour flight) wasn't the real reason I couldn't stop turning pages. Holy cow. Great concept, great story and even greater writing. Johnson's dialog sparkles with her typical wit (if you don't follow her on Twitter @maureenjohnson, you're missing out).
Sprinkled with history, mystery and (finally about halfway through) mysticism, THE NAME OF THE STAR (2011, Putnam) takes Rory Deveaux out of her small town Louisiana home and plonks her down in a London boarding school located near Jack the Ripper's old stomping grounds. With a "crazy" aunt back home who makes a living from seeing angels, Rory is used to the odd -- but things turn macabre when murders that mimic the famous Ripper begin to occur. And now Rory has come face-to-face with the killer.
The police are stumped, and surveillance footage of the murders only creates more questions. Rory is their only witness as Rippermania takes a frenzied hold over London. Each subsequent murder follows the path of the original killer, until Rory realizes there is something even more terrifying about the man she saw outside the school the night of the second killing. What's more, she has the ability to stop him.
Equally gothic and modern, funny and horrible, TNOTS recreates the furor the Ripper had over London in 1888, with the instantaneous information of today's world. How could Jack get away with his crimes in a world filled with closed circuit TV cameras capturing the public's every move?
If you're not a fan of cliffhanger endings, prepare yourself. THE MADNESS UNDERNEATH (Shades of London, book 2) won't be out until January 2, 2013. Arrggggggggggg.........
UK jacket states recommended for 13+. The Ripper topic is obviously a violent one, so depending on temperament for these things, that age might skew a bit older.