I usually have a rule that I don’t read books set in the same period that I am currently writing about, but I decided that The Name of the Star was so different in premise to my own Ripper murders book, being a young adult book set in the present day with supernatural elements, that it would be okay to give it a whirl.
In the end, it made for eerie reading and not for the reasons that one might suppose – the heroine’s parents take up teaching positions in Bristol (which is perplexingly described as being in the middle of the country and apparently an intimidating distance away from London – when we’re just an hour and forty minutes away by train.), pink hair is mentioned and the heroine takes almost the exact same A Levels as me although the syllabus as described in the book was more akin to degree level History of Art and English Literature than A Level. Throw in girls who can’t take their gin, pronunciation of Pepys (I know relatives who pronounce their surname Pep-iz) and weird Ripperologists and it was slightly unnerving. If there’d been mention of Victorian prostitute re-enactment I may well have sued!
I did actually sort of enjoy most of this book, but my interest definitely waned towards the end when there was a lot of faffing about and explaining of motives and all that malarkey, which didn’t really help much to be honest as the more things were explained, the more incomprehensible it became. Previous to this though there were some genuinely spine tingling moments, which was quite fun.
Overall, if you’re expecting something like Whitechapel (a brilliant depiction of a Ripper copycat murderer on the rampage) or an evocation of Victorian creepiness then you’ll probably be very disappointed because this isn’t really about Jack the Ripper at all. That’s not to say that this is a bad book, because it isn’t, it just wasn’t what I personally hoped it would be. Clearly, if I want to read a YA novel set during the Ripper murders with lots of gaslit gloom then I’ll just have to write it myself!
I gave this three stars on Goodreads – one of which was just for the T shirt design saying ‘I SURVIVED THE 9TH OF NOVEMBER AND ALL I GOT WAS THIS BLOODY T SHIRT’ which I will admit that I wish I’d thought of myself…