First impressions: Rory is an incredibly friendly and authentic narrator. Her voice really drew me in, though I had a hard time picturing her with a Louisiana accent.
Lasting impressions: Jack the Ripper mystique aside, this is a good old fashioned paranormal murder mystery, and I loved every minute of it.
Conflicting impressions: As much as I liked Rory, she seemed a bit generic at times. I'm not sure I could tell you one unique quality about her, other than that she comes from an eccentric community in Louisiana.
Overall impressions: Oh good Lord did I gobble this one up! No, not just gobbled - devoured. This was no simple "Hmmm, wonder what's going to happen next?" It was "OHMIGOD I WILL KILL YOU IF YOU MAKE ME STOP READING THIS." I would count down the minutes on my commute and lunch hour, racing to flip pages as quickly as possible so I could find an appropriate stopping place.
There was no appropriate stopping place. It was too good to stop reading. Ever.
The summary pretty much says it all - girl moves to London for boarding school in the midst of a Jack the Ripper copycat spree and winds up entangled in the investigation while discovering an interesting paranormal element. So we have lots of things I love: 1) boarding school setting; 2)murder investigation; 3) Jack the Ripper history/trivia; and 4) paranormal activity. I fainted from swooning the moment I first read this book's jacket copy.
Believe me when I tell you it delivers in pretty much all of these categories. Rory's school is typical - grand buildings, quirky roommates, cute boys, skirted uniforms, and lots of studying. The murder mystery unfolds at a nice pace, with clues that stuck out upon reveal but weren't too intrusive when introduced (these are the best kind, in my humble opinion). There was lots of good Jack the Ripper information shared as the investigation went on, and when Rory discovers her new powers play a distinct role in catching the killer, I was fully on board.
Whatever unique qualities Rory may have been lacking were more than made up for with Maureen Johnson's breezy writing and distinct side characters. Everyone and everything seemed so natural and real that I bought in to the world completely without it ever seeming gimmicky. The tension and pacing worked seamlessly to pull me along through the plot, and around every corner there seemed to be something new and interesting to keep my full attention. Add in the Ripper timeframe counting down the days to the next kill and I was hooked.
This book requires a strong will to put it down, but enough entertainment to make you want to prolong the agony. Balancing fun, light characters with dark, terrifying events, this book is pure magic. You need to run out and get your hands on this one.
Rating: 5/5 stars
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