After her down-on-her-luck single mother dies, Arabella moves to London to live with her upper class grandmother. Arabella doesn’t quite fit into society, so it is a relief to her when she is allowed to assist doctors at a local women’s hospital in Whitechapel. Then the Ripper murders begin. Arabella get visions of the murders, and all of the women killed were connected with her hospital. Arabella feels a connection and wants to save them, but may be in danger herself.
I love reading about Jack the Ripper, and I love reading about the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. This book included both, but somehow was only just okay. I think that’s because the Amy Carol Reeves clearly loves both of those historical figures as well, and that comes across too strongly in this book. Okay, that sounds strange, but at times I found myself looking skeptically at the page. So, Arabella has the possibility of solving Jack the Ripper, has a connection to the Rossettis, and she’s clearly a feminist, able to become practically a doctor with no medical training? It was too far-fetched for me to buy into, and at times the fortunate connections came across as pandering to history.
And while I love reading about Jack the Ripper, telling the tale has been done before, many times. Some of those retellings are great, like Alan Moore’s From Hell, or more recently, The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson. So, if you tackle the Ripper you need to stand out. Unfortunately, Ripper just didn’t do enough to stand out for me.
However, if you can’t read enough about Jack the Ripper and love YA fiction, I think you’ll want to read this book. At the very least, you can compare it to other Ripper fiction, and you may just find yourself loving it along the way.