|Title: The Name of the Star
Author: Maureen Johnson
Series: Shades of London #1
Cover Art: N/A
Genre: Paranormal YA | Excerpt: Yes
Source: LibraryThing ER| Reviewed by: Abigail
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.
Jack the Ripper is not a topic I generally spend a lot of time thinking about. The gruesome nature of his crimes are usually enough for me to give a wide berth to books and movies about him. I say usually because THE NAME OF THE STAR by Maureen Johnson handles the topic of the first modern murderer in such a fascinating, spooky but never horrifying, and even romantic way that my reticence has completely vanished.
There needed to be an amazingly good protagonist to carry this story, and Aurora “Rory” Deveaux is exactly that. Relocating from Louisiana to London for her senior year of high school—to a boarding school no less—would typically be a recipe for a lot of self pity and surliness, but not in Rory. She uses her humor and resiliency to bounce back from every misstep she makes at her new school, and her quirky spot on observations about the people she meets anchored me into her world and her story in a way that very few YA titles do.
And I can’t say enough about the writing. Loved it from the first line. Strong but subtle descriptions that brought the flavor of London to life without ever bashing the reader over the head with the English flag. I felt the wet cobblestones under my feet, and the vibrations of the London Underground just as keenly as the chill of a ghost’s breath and the thrill of Rory’s first kiss. If I’m nitpicking, I do wish that the rest of the characters had been as dynamic and engaging as Rory, and the fact that one of the characters was nicknamed ‘Boo’ in a ghost story was pushing it.
No details are currently available for the next book in the Shades of London series, but the end of THE NAME OF THE STAR sets up the sequel perfectly, with just enough of a lead in to leave me with a delicious anticipation for more of Rory’s story that takes nothing away from the satisfying conclusion of the debut.