Saturday 22 October 2011

Review: The Name of the Star - Maureen Johnson

Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux flies to London for the start of a new life at boarding school.  But her arrival is overshadowed by the sudden outbreak of brutal murders in the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific work of Jack the Ripper.

"Rippermania" grabs hold of modern day London, and the police are stumped with few leads and no witnesses.  Except one.  Rory has seen their prime suspect on the school grounds.  But her friend Jazza, who was with her at the time, didn't see anyone.

So why could only Rory see him?  And more urgently, what is he planning next?

Shades of London Series:
The Name of the Star
The Madness Underneath (2012)

Visit Maureen Johnson's website for more information

Rory has travelled from her home in Louisiana to spend a year at a boarding school in London and has all the usual problems you'd expect someone to face when starting at a new school in a new country.  School soon becomes the least of her worries though, there is a Jack the Ripper copycat on the loose committing gruesome murders and Rory is the only witness.  Can Rory help the police catch the killer before he strikes again?

The Name of the Star is the first book I've read by Maureen Johnson but it has definitely left me wanting to pick up more of her books.  I really enjoyed her writing style and loved seeing London through the eyes of an American character.  The setting is really well written and you can easily see yourself walking through London alongside Rory.  Maureen has captured the feel of the area and visiting the old abandoned London Underground stations was incredibly creepy.  The story itself is fast paced and manages to be both spooky as well as laugh out loud funny in places.  I would have liked the supernatural element to have been unveiled a little earlier, I felt like I had things figured out long before Rory did but the author managed to throw in a few twists that still managed to surprise me.

Rory was a great protagonist and I loved her observations about London and the English way of life.  I liked the friendship between her and her room mate Jazza and her interactions with Alistair.  Although Jerome is a nice guy I didn't really buy into the romance between them, perhaps that will change as the series progresses though.  Besides Rory my favourite characters were introduced about half way through the book (I love Stephen!), I don't want to say too much more about them but I'm confident that they'll have a big role in future books which has me very excited.

The thing I loved the most about the story was the connection to the original Jack the Ripper murders, I've read quite a bit about this subject in the past and like a lot of people am fascinated by the murders and who was behind them.  I've always wondered why the killer stopped when he did and although the book obviously isn't able to answer that question it was still fun to learn more about the subject.  The idea of a copycat killer is chilling and I was creeped out (but not surprised) by the Rippermania that takes over the population when the murders start happening again.   

Overall The Name of the Star was a great read and one that I would recommend to fans of supernatural stories.  If you have an interest in history - Jack the Ripper in particular - then you're sure to enjoy the story.  I'm really looking forward to seeing where Maureen Johnson takes the series next.

Source: Received from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review

Other reviews of this book:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.


  1. OOhhh, nice review! It's good to know that you enjoyed it. You should definately check out some more of MJ's stuff - although, it's all rather different compared to this book ...

  2. I LOVED this book too - Great review.

    Like you it's the first book by the author that I've read too but I want to read some more!!

  3. @ The Book Bug - I'm looking forward to trying more of MJ's books so it's good to know you'd recommend them :o)

    @ Jules - this was such a good book wasn't it! I'm definitely looking forward to more of this series & to trying MJ's other books too

  4. I really loved this one as well, and really, all the books I've read my Maureen Johnson! So excited for more in the series.

  5. Hi Clover, I really must pick up some of Maureen's other books :o) I'm also very excited about the next one in this series though - should be fab!



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