By Amy Carol Reeves
Publication date: April 8, 2012
Abbie Sharp arrives from Dublin to live with her wealthy grandmother after the death of her mother. Hoping to give Abbie some discipline and focus, her grandmother arranges for Abbie to do some volunteer work at Whitechapel Hospital, where the patients are mostly prostitutes. While Abbie enjoys the work and proves to be up to the challenge, a startling murder takes place. Abbie also begins having frightening visions and as the killings continue, she suspects that her visions are somehow connected.
Ripper is a new twist on the Jack the Ripper killings. In this suspenseful YA novel, historical details are combined with elements of the paranormal to produce a gripping read. Abbie is an intelligent and resourceful heroine who is capable of defending herself in a fight. She is not quite the Victorian lady but then she grew up street fighting in Dublin. I liked Abbie as a character and admired her plans to become a doctor in spite of the odds. She does come across as a rather modern girl plunked down in Victorian London but as this isn't strictly historical fiction, I made allowances for it. In some ways, Abbie reminded me of Lady Julia Grey, the heroine of Deanna Raybourn's Victorian mysteries with similar modern sensibilities. As far as the historical information, the author skillfully incorporates details of Victorian life, the Ripper killings, science, and culture without bogging down the story.
I do wish there hadn't been a love triangle. One suitor would have been enough in this case since it is a novel of historical suspense. The romance was the weak point in what is otherwise a strong debut and I hope going forward that this element will improve as the triangle is resolved. The best part of the book was the suspense-there are some truly chilling scenes involving the killer that will have readers looking over their shoulders. While there are questions that go unanswered in the end, particularly about the paranormal elements, this is not unexpected as it is the first book in a series. Overall I enjoyed Ripper and found it to be a suspenseful read.
Readalikes: The Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink, The Twin's Daughter by Lauren Baratz-Logsted, A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray, The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell, Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn
Note: I received an e-ARC of this title for review courtesy of NetGalley