Aurora (Rory) Deveaux hails from Southern Louisiana. Her life is going to completely change when both she and her parents (who are professors) move to England. Her mother and father move to Bristol and Rory decides to go to a boarding school, Wexford, in the part of London that used to be Whitechapel (the slums). While this part of London no longer holds the danger that it once did because of the technology of London’s many security cameras, Rory quickly finds that fear has once again stirred in this area. And it has to do, once again, with the notorious and elusive figure of Jack the Ripper. Someone has begun a series of copycat murders…and is getting away with it. Security cameras fail to identify the new murderer, who has an obsessive following just as the original did. The Ripper is a faceless, nameless adversary until Rory finds that she has a new, unexpected gift.
I found that while I liked Maureen Johnson’s idea overall and thought it was very original, I was still left a bit disappointed. It is Jack the Ripper after all, and I wanted the atmosphere and the tone of the novel to be much more convincingly creepy. I would have to say that as far as paranormal thrillers go, Libba Bray’s The Diviners was a much stronger novel. Its construction was more seamless and how the subject of the supernatural was treated within the mystery felt more genuine and real. While I really applaud the idea for The Name of the Star (Jack the Ripper, is, after all, just a name) and found the research and the new direction the story took therein to be fascinating, I wasn’t as impressed as I hoped I would be. This might be because this novel is clearly only the first in a series and had a lot of character and world-building to do. Still, I recommend it to anyone who has an interest in paranormal mystery, Jack the Ripper, or wants to read about the many unexpected trials of an American teenage girl in London (really, the humor in this aspect of the novel is excellently done).