Book Review: Ripper
By: Amy Carol Reeves
Published By: Flux
Publication Date: April 8, 2012
Page Count: 340
Source: Kindly Provided by Publisher via NetGalley
Audience: Young Adult - Historical Fiction, Paranormal
It seems that Jack the Ripper is becoming a rising star in the world of YA Literature. I'm not complaining - the story of the London serial killer has been one that has been a gruesome fascination of mine since I was a kid. I am excited to see how various authors are approaching the lore and historical record. I really wanted to read this after loving Maureen Johnson's The Name of the Star. The only commonalities between the books are the Jack the Ripper story and a supernatural twist. Amy Carol Reeves has chosen to stick more to the historical avenue of this tale.
One of the things I loved about Ripper was the mood. Reeves does a wonderful job of painting a dark and creepy portrait of London in the late 1800's. She includes so many chilling elements that there was more than one occasion when a shiver danced up my spine and I hastily looked around to make sure I was indeed alone. It is a true gem of a read that can give me the creeps. Kudos to Reeves for capturing the hysteria and fear that must have been swirling around the London streets as these crimes were front page news.
I also enjoyed the historical aspects of this one. In fact, I preferred them over the paranormal elements. It is obvious that Reeves has done her research and she laces her plot with facts from the unsolved case. I suppose that is one thing that makes this so fascinating; Jack the Ripper was never identified and the cases were never solved. There has been much speculation about the identity of the Ripper, but nothing was ever confirmed. I love that this novel plays upon those elements. Reeves does eventually unmask her Ripper, but I love that the historical record leaves that up to individual's imagination and musings. I was far more interested in learning about the time period than I was with the supernatural twists and turns.
In spite of many solid elements, I did have some trouble getting into this novel. The beginning felt somewhat tedious for me as Reeves sets up Abbie and explains her world. There is a clash between Abbie's modest upbringing and the world of wealth and privilege that she is thrust into upon her mother's death. This clash is what eventually leads Abbie to find employment at Whitechapel Hospital where she will help those in need and come face to face with a killer. The beginning of the novel centers on Abbie and her work at the hospital; there is also a focus on her relationship with her grandmother. Around the midway point of the book, there is a shift and the plot takes a supernatural turn. It almost felt as if I were reading two different books. For some reason, the reality and supernatural elements seemed at odds with one another. I didn't feel that two worlds were well connected. I would have preferred a much more seamless transition. There is so much going on in this book that it was overwhelming at times.
Another major issue with this book is the characters. They were very flat to me. Nothing made them stand out in my mind; there was nothing memorable about them that made me want to care about their story. Some of the most fascinating people in the book are very minor characters. William was one of the only main characters who had a strong personality about him. The others were fairly bland. The romance in this one also fell flat for me. In addition, there are a lot of characters mentioned and at times it could be difficult keeping track of who was who.
Overall, I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to historical fiction fans. The book has many merits and I liked the spin it put on the Ripper lore.
One Last Gripe: The ending seemed a bit implausible to me. I'm just not sure Abbie could have truly pulled that off.
My Favorite Thing About This Book: Learning more about Victorian London
First Sentence: If the pickpocket had taken anything other than that, I could have let it go.
Favorite Character: I didn't really have one. I never truly connected with any of them on that level.
Least Favorite Character: Again, I didn't have one. I was pretty neutrals towards the characters in this one.
In 1888, following her mother's sudden death, 17-year-old Arabella Sharp goes to live with her grandmother in a posh London neighborhood. At her grandmother's request, Abbie volunteers at Whitechapel Hospital, where she discovers a passion for helping the unfortunate women and children there. But within days, female patients begin turning up brutally murdered at the hands of Jack the Ripper.