Posted by: Debbie Kahl | November 6, 2011

Shades of London: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

Anyone who knows me well, knows I have a morbid fascination with Jack the Ripper. I’ve seen more movies and read more books on him than I can count. I’ve even done a Jack the Ripper tour in London, twice! Maybe fascination is an understatement …

Anyway, you can imagine my excitement when I came across Maureen Johnson’s new novel, The Name of the Star, as I traipsed through my favourite independent bookstore. *inserting shameless plug for here*

The Name of the Star, if you haven’t already worked out from my earlier ramblings, focuses on a series of copycat Ripper murders. Caught in the middle is fresh off the plane, Louisiana teen Rory Deveaux; who’s arrived in London to start her year as an exchange student at Wexford. Wexford – which just happens to be located in Whitechapel –  is right in the heart of Ripper territory, and soon everyone known to Rory is consumed by Rippermania. In the wrong place at the wrong time, Rory is the only witness to the new Ripper, even though her friend Jazza was right there with her. Now she’s being tracked by the Shades of London, London’s new secret ghost police, and being taunted by the Ripper. Can she – and the Shades – stop him before she becomes his next victim?

The best way I can describe this book is ‘deliciously creepy’. I’m not usually into thrillers, and I especially avoid anything ghost related, but I loved this book. It’s unique, it’s enthralling, it’s edge of the seat, keep the pages turning, scare the pants off you thrilling!

Oh, and there’s humour too; especially as we watch Rory adapt to life in London, which is very different from her small town life back home in Louisiana. My favourite line? ‘Welsh is an actual, currently used language … It sounds like Wizard.’ In fact, Rory’s so entertaining and such a wonderful character, that we happily follow her on her naive journey into London’s spooky underworld, no questions asked. And if you’re looking for romance, well there’s some of that too. His name is Jerome, and you’ll get to read all about him in the book.

So, if you’re into YA thrillers with a historical twist and more than a hint of supernatural, this is your book!

For more information, you can visit the author’s webpage at 

Happy reading! 🙂




  1. I’ve read a few of Maureen’s other books and at times found them very heavy, however even with the Jack the Ripper theme I enjoyed the story immensely. Hopefully there’ll be another one to follow next year sometime.

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