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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Introducing My New Favorite YA Series. Well, One of Them ...

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Rory Deveaux's thrilled when her law professor parents decide to leave small-town Louisiana to spend a year on sabbatical in Europe.  The 17-year-old can't wait to start her own adventure at a boarding school in London's East End.  Wexford's not exactly Hogwarts, but Rory loves the English-ness of it all.  Her roommate's sweet as can be (if a little stiff), her classes are challenging (not always a good thing), and she's learning to play field hockey (mostly with her face).  Rory's classmates find her quirky Southern background charming, so she plays up the role, entertaining her friends with zany, but (mostly) true tales from the bayou.  Even with a Jack the Ripper-like killer on the loose in her new neighborhood, Rory's having the time of her life.  

Then, Rory almost chokes to death in the dining hall and things start getting ... weird.  Like, The Sixth Sense weird.  She must be going crazy because in real life, ghosts don't float through the streets of London.  They don't show themselves to sensible teenage girls.  They don't talk.  And they certainly don't kill real, live, flesh-and-blood people.  But Rory's pretty sure that's exactly what's happening.  She saw a man near the scene of a grisly murder, a man only she could see, a man she's pretty sure is the Ripper copycat.  Rory can do what no one on the London police force can do: she can identify England's Most Wanted.  The only problem?  The killer is a ghost.  If Rory tells that to the authorities, she's sure to be locked up—in the loony bin.  She can't take what she knows to the cops, so she's going to have to solve the problem herself.  Either that, or bury her nose in her textbooks (where it should have been all along) and forget all about her freaky new Spidey senses.

Rory just wants her life to go back to normal, but when she discovers she's not the only Shade in London, she knows that will never happen.  As she learns about what she can do, what she's expected to do, Rory has to decide what she wants.  And fast, before the ghostly killer strikes again ...  

Even though I'd heard great things about The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, I held off reading it.  Why?  Since the novel's about Jack the Ripper, I figured it would be gruesome.  And depressing.  Not exactly a heartwarming holiday read.  Then, the wonderful people at Penguin sent me an awesome early Christmas gift—not just a finished copy of The Name of the Star, but also an ARC of its sequel, The Madness Underneath.  With both books just sitting there on my shelf, begging for my attention, I couldn't resist.  And you know what?  I'm glad I didn't.  Because even though The Name of the Star is a little bloody, it's a lot more lighthearted than I expected it to be.  In fact, I'd say it's the perfect blend of charming and chilling.  The story's not all that original, but it didn't really bother me—I was too busy flipping pages to worry about anything other than Rory.  Her story intrigued me so much that I didn't want to stop reading it.  So I didn't.  I devoured The Madness Underneath, too.  And guess what?  I loved it just as much as its predecessor, which means I can now say that the Shades of London is one of my favorite new YA series.  It's that compelling, that fun.  Seriously, I adore it.  

(Readalikes:  The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson; also reminded me a little bit of Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake)

Grade:  B

If this were a movie, it would be rated:  PG-13 for violence/gore, mild language (no F-bombs) and sexual innuendo

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of The Name of the Star from the generous folks at Penguin.  Thank you!   


  1. Oh, yes. This book gave me the creepies -- in the best way. I don't usually love ghosty stories, but I LOVED this one.

  2. What??!! Another new series to fall into? Now that's a problem. You see whatever you like/love I tend to like/love. Yikes. It's a good thing there's a big sale coming up at Changing Hands....

    Happy New Year!

  3. Hmmmm. Now I really need to get to it and see if we have another book in common. ;-)

  4. Whoot!!! I'm on a roll with books I think you will like and then you totally do! :) I felt the same way about this one: so glad I got over my (erroneous) misgivings about gore and dreariness. It was a great read!


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