I will preface my review of The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson by saying that I am a baby who gets scared very easily. The Name of the Star is the first book in the Shades of London series and I was initially drawn to it because of it’s plot. The book follows a girl named Rory who heads to London for boarding school at the exact same time that a serial killer who appears to be imitating Jack the Ripper begins to carry out a series of murders. Rory spots the suspect but somehow, she is the only person who is able to see him which lands her the top spot as his next potential victim.
Since the books takes place in a boarding school in London, I was immediately hooked. I love reading about teens in a boarding school setting who have the freedom to explore and grow with all of the independence that goes along with their schooling. Plus, London! It was such a pleasure to explore different places in London along with Rory and if I ever get to take a trip there I will definitely be going on a Jack the Ripper tour. The story is beautifully crafted and the pacing is on point. It was such a delight to try to solve the mystery and figure out the supernatural elements occurring in Rory’s seemingly normal world. There were parts that scared me a lot (see: intro) and I’ve been told by friends that it is not in fact scary but it still got to me!
I really loved Rory as a character and it was delightful to be acclimated to English culture through her experiences. She’s very smart and like a typical teen, she has the right amount of lovable awkwardness and the possible romance she’s embarking on is super cute. I also loved Alistair who is a punk guy that Rory often encounters hanging out in the library. He is adorable and I cannot wait to read the short story Maureen published about him. Rory’s roommates Boo and Jazza were also great and I loved / was so freaked out by the Ripper character most of all.
Final Thoughts: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, the first book in the Shades of London series is the perfect mix of horror and contemporary. The London boarding school setting enriches the reading experience and the mystery of the Jack the Ripper-like murders will keep you hooked well past the big reveal. The main character Rory is relatable, intelligent and awkward but it’s her library buddy Alistair that I kept wishing for more time with. If you like creepy stories and don’t mind having trouble sleeping at night, The Name of the Star is definitely worth a read!
Jack the Ripper is back, and he’s coming for Rory next….
Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London to start a new life at boarding school just as a series of brutal murders mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper killing spree of more than a century ago has broken out across the city. The police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man believed to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him – the only one who can see him. And now Rory has become his next target…unless she can tap her previously unknown abilities to turn the tables. (via Goodreads)