Plot: Rory leaves Louisiana to spend a year in a London boarding school but she arrives just in the middle of a series of murder that eerily resemble Jack the Ripper’s killings. The oddest thing is that the millions of CCTV cameras around London never capture the killer. Rory is the only one who has ever seen him and now he has taken a particular interest in her.
I was waiting for this book for quite a while and it met all my expectations and more. I read it in a day, enthralled. The mystery is well constructed and the ghost story is truly eerie without being gruesome. I loved how the supernatural elements fit into the story; they are revealed quite gradually and they are truly a part of her London. It is, as she says many times, a haunted city. Johnson’s London is almost a character in itself and I look forward to learning more about it in later books. (It’s like taking a haunted tour!)
What is also interesting is the failure of the modern world, exemplified by the CCTV cameras and the media, to comprehend the supernatural elements in it. In some ways the disconnect between the modern and supernatural London parallels Rory’s attempts (and failures) to reconcile mundane school life and her life with the Shades… This is starting to sound like a literary analysis and I promise to stop but honestly the more I think about it, the more depths I find.
This book is quite different from Johnson’s previous work. But the characters in The Name of the Star are as fun and engaging as ever. Each is so faceted that I can imagine them as a real person. This does not only include Rory and the Shades (the supernatural police that the series is named for): there are some truly great secondary characters, living and dead. Was I the only one who wanted to hang out in the stacks with Alistair? I think we would have been good friends.
Suffice it to say that I loved this book. The Ripper story has a satisfying conclusion but the greater story about Rory’s new powers and the Shades of London will continue. The release date for the second volume is as yet unknown but if you ask me, tomorrow would not be too soon.
Also, I think my cat can sense the ghosts in the book. He’s terrified of it.