15 Oct 2011

The Name of the Star

TITLE: The Name of the Star

AUTHOR: Maureen Johnson

SERIES: Shades of London #1

PAGES: 370 (Hardcover)

                  MORE INFO

As soon as I picked this up in the store, I knew I had to have it. A modern day reincarnation of Jack the Ripper? FTW! I’ve always found serial killer stories interesting: the build up of tension, the psychology behind it, the skilful clues and the big reveal at the end. If you know anything about murders, you know that the ultimate serial killer, the one who never got caught and left chaotic terror in his wake, was Jack the Ripper.

The Name of the Star starts out like a classic ‘fish out of water’ story, Aurora ‘Rory’ Deveraux is a Southern girl who’s uprooted in her senior year and sent to a high end boarding school in London. Whilst trying to find her way around her studies, new friends, and a possible romance with cute prefect Jerome, the whole of London, and her, is bowled over when a copy cat Jack the Ripper begins prowling the streets of the East End. As the victims begin to pile up, one being found in Rory’s very own school, ‘Rippermania’ takes hold and everyone is at a complete loss as to who the culprit is.  Everyone, that is, except Rory, who spies a strange man at several of the crime scenes. There’s only one catch – he’s a ghost.

Rory was a great character to pair up with on this adventure, she’s smart, mature, brave (stupidly, sometimes, I will admit) and adventurous when the moment allowed. The other characters were well fleshed out and identifiable enough, although I didn’t get why everyone hated Charlotte. Sure, she was competitive, but only because she worked hard and wanted to get into Oxford. But, that was just something I noticed, and compared to the points in advantage to this book it barely registered on my  major flaw-o-meter.

The retelling of the Jack the Ripper story was a sure fire way to grab you and pull you into the story. For thinking of that idea, I salute you, Ms. Johnson. Though the story took a more bizarre and paranormal turn about a third of the way through, the foreshadowing of the next murder and stopping the psychotic maniac behind it kept me hooked whilst the ghost hunting subplot was carefully woven in.

Maureen Johnson seems to have a great deal of skill in writing, her descriptions flow straight into your imagination and it brings out emotions in the reader; a racing heart, clenched fingers, and widely varying expression were not an uncommon reaction for me. Although, sometimes I wish she would elaborate on some things and skip the lecture on others, and at times this led me to flicking through the last few pages, wondering if I’d missed something because it just seemed to jump from one thing to the next with no proper closure (the first kiss between Rory and Jerome, for instance, you deprived of us of some serious kiss face Maureen!)

Anyway, enough of my fictional kissing deprivations. Ms. Johnson has created a wonderful start to a promising new series that I’m sure we will see much more of in the future. Though it is the first novel in what will probably be a trilogy or something like that, it can actually be read as a standalone book. Though there is a small cliffhanger, it does have enough closure that if you don’t want to be bogged down with a whole series it’s still a satisfying read.
So, what are you still doing reading this? Get googling and add it to your TBR now!


  1. Great review! I have this one on my Bday/Xmas list! Sounds really good! Jack the Ripper, come on what's not to be intrigued?!

  2. Like Jessica above, I also have this on my birthday wish list! I love Maureen Johnson, follow her on Twitter, and this book also sounds right up my alley. I too have been fascinated, (I guess it is morbid) with Jack the Ripper. Glad to read your good review of it. I know if I don't get it for my birthday I'm going to purchase it for my Nook with some leftover money on a giftcard I have.