The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson – Book Review

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
Published by Putnam Juvenile, an imprint of Penguin

Rory Deveaux is used to her life in Louisiana, but she’s still excited about the prospect a year at a British boarding school. Her parents will be teaching in England for the year, so going with them seems like a no-brainer. Unfortunately, Rory’s arrival in London coincides with the anniversary of the first Jack the Ripper murder, and what appears to be a spate of copycat murders. When Rory sees a man who seems to be the number one suspect, she suddenly finds herself in very real danger.

The Name of the Star is an incredibly entertaining book. Rory is an interesting and complex character, in a fascinating – if somewhat unconventional situation. Johnson has a very engaging writing style, and she can draw the reader into even a Jack the Ripper ghost story.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Name of the Star, although I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it being a series. I think it was a great success as a standalone, but Rory’s continued adventures with the cast of characters she met in The Name of the Star don’t terribly excite me, although I’ll be more than willing to read the next book and see where Johnson takes the story.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Library.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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Dust and Shadow by Lyndsay Faye – Book Review

Dust and Shadow by Lyndsay Faye
Published by Simon & Schuster, reprint edition

Sherlock Holmes on the trail of Jack the Ripper. Enough said.

Honestly, I’m not really sure what other synopsis to add to that, that is pretty much what you need to know. Essentially, this is a Holmes pastiche (new vocabulary I learned from Graham Moore!), in other words, a work not by Arthur Conan Doyle with Sherlock Holmes as the main character, doing what he does best: solving crimes.

If you need more Sherlock-lit in your life (and, the Sherlock Holmes edition of What’s Old is New, I think I do), this is an incredibly entertaining one. Not entertaining in an ‘oh, isn’t this funny?’ way, but entertaining in an ‘I wish Sherlock Holmes was real, because then just maybe somebody would have actually solved the Jack the Ripper crime. Faye wrote in a convincing Watson style with a very engaging Holmes. She also had prose lovely enough that I was occasionally moved to stop reading and tweet sentences – that is always a good sign.

Recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells.*
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound.*
Amazon.*

Source: Library
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

What Alice Knew by Paula Marantz Cohen – Book Review

What Alice Knew by Paula Marantz Cohen
Published by Sourcebooks

The year is 1888 and London is being terrorized by Jack the Ripper. For now only prostitutes are being targeted, but the citizenry is worried that the fiend may branch out. Scotland Yard is at a loss, so they decide to call in William James, the American professor of philosophy and the emerging field of psychology. It is James’ understanding of psychology that they hope will help them find the culprit. William just happens to be the older brother of novelist Henry James who, together with their younger invalid sister Alice, join in the hunt with William. William is the expert in psychology and works with the police, Henry does¬†reconnaissance in Society, and Alice is the driving force between the siblings’ investigation.

This would be a fun book to pick up around Halloween, an interesting look at some of history’s most gruesome unsolved murders. I enjoy the interplay between academic and literary figures and the history that takes place around them, even if they were not involved with it – as long as it seems reasonable. Cohen definitely made the James siblings’ interest in and investigation of the Jack the Ripper murders seem at least plausible. I also appreciated how masterfully Cohen gave each of the siblings a strong and individual voice.

Well written, interesting historical fiction, especially if you enjoy whodunit theories of historical memory, as I do.

Buy this book from:
Powells.*
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound.*
Amazon
.*

This review was done with a book received from the publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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