Expected publication: April 8, 2012 (Flux)
Source: E-ARC from the publisher
Series or stand-alone: Planned series but no sequel announced
Further info/purchase: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Find the author online: Website | Twitter
In 1888, following her mother's sudden death, seventeen-year-old Arabella Sharp goes to live with her grandmother in a posh London neighborhood. At her grandmother's request, Abbie volunteers at Whitechapel Hospital, where she discovers a passion for helping the unfortunate women and children there.
But within days, female patients begin turning up brutally murdered at the hands of Jack the Ripper. Even more horrifying, Abbie starts having strange visions that lead her straight to the Ripper's next massacres. As her apparent psychic connection with the twisted killer grows stronger, Abbie is drawn into a deadly mystery involving the murders, her mother's shadowed past, and a secret brotherhood of immortals—who'll stop at nothing to lure Abbie into its "humanitarian" aims.
Ripper plunges the reader into the midst of the story with the opening lines, sending protagonist Arabella "Abbie" Sharp chasing a pick-pocket who has lifted a brooch that belonged to her dead mother. Although I inwardly shook my head at Abbie's reckless pursuit of the thief, I liked her immediately - her courage, her fierceness, and her heart. Abbie made some rash decisions at times, but I never gave up on her; if anything, over the course of Ripper, I liked her more and more. Her growth as a character was inspiring to read about.
Amy Carol Reeves has a wonderfully clear writing style that made the action-packed Ripper quite easy to follow and to enjoy. It's a fast-paced thrill ride full of nifty twists and turns that left me guessing as to what would happen next. Readers who think they know the story of Jack the Ripper will find themselves proven wrong; Amy Carol Reeves has developed an alternate explanation for the murderer that plagued the streets of London, and the "who" and the "why" will shock readers, just as I was surprised.
Throughout Ripper, I was pleasantly surprised and thrilled: by the plot, by the characters, and by the relationships. I don't read that many historical novels, so I went into this one with a bit of trepidation, but Reeves won me over quickly with how genuine Ripper felt; despite the fearful note running through it, which the story relies heavily on, it still (to me) felt like I was reading a true historical novel, one with a lot of heart, and mystery. There were a few plot points I saw coming and wish I had enjoyed more than I did, but overall the story was very gripping.
I also really enjoyed some of the character interactions in Ripper. William and Simon were both fascinating characters in their own rights, and I loved watching each of them with Abbie. I was slightly disappointed in the direction their individual relationships took with her; I didn't feel like this novel needed to stray into love triangle territory, because to me, it was obvious from the beginning where Abbie's heart lay, though it took her longer to figure that out than it did me. And Abbie's grandmother was a really enjoyable character; for all the importance she placed on appearances, it was clear she really did love Abbie, and that was nice to see.
Ripper was a fabulous, quick read, and my few flaws (things like multiple typos) will likely be resolved before the finished copies are printed. Overall I really enjoyed the story - I just didn't love it, or emotionally connect with it, like I wanted to, though that is certainly not Amy Carol Reeves's fault. She's produced a great book that did leave me anxiously awaiting the sequel.
Do you like historical novels? Or do you prefer contemporary reads? How do you feel about books like this one, that take place as a story inside a well-known historical event?