Format: Audio (CDs)
Narrated By: Nicola Barber
Original Publication Year: 2011
Genre(s): YA, Urban Fantasy, Mystery
Series: Shades of London (#1)
Awards: Edgar Award Nominee for Best Young Adult
Rory Devereaux is a Louisiana teenager who gets an opportunity to spend her senior year of high school in England. She chooses to attend a prestigious boarding school called Wexford, located in London’s East End in the White Chapel Area. Rory has the misfortune of arriving at her new school just as a series of grisly murders begin that seem to be copies of those by Jack the Ripper over a century earlier. While most of England is gripped by Rippermania, Rory is too caught up in adjusting to her new school to take much notice until she sees a man that nobody else can see on the night of the third murder. Suddenly, she is playing a central role in the investigation to catch the “new” Ripper.
Despite the fact that this wasn’t entirely what I expected (when I skimmed the back cover I assumed that this was a historical that took place during the original Ripper killings), I found myself quite enjoying the book. There is plenty to unravel and even if some of the mysteries can be seen a mile off some are quite surprising and all lead to a pretty interesting story.
One thing I frequently struggle with when reading young adult literature is trouble connecting with the characters. I didn’t have that problem here. Rory may be a little stereotypically “Louisianan” but she’s got a good sense of humor and is pretty believably teenage but not in any kind of annoying way. There are some points where she acts in a somewhat unbelievable manner to steer the plot but there is a pretty effective attempt to explain the actions and they aren’t ignored, which deserves some credit.
Nicola Barber’s reading is a little rough at first mostly with Rory who occasionally sounds vaguely Australian rather than Louisianan. But she eventually settles into the voices and overall does a good job.
In the end, this was a fun enough read and while I’m not chomping at the bit to start book two in the series I do plan on getting to it eventually.