Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Two Reviews in One! A Ghost & Jack The Ripper

I have a secret:  I love to read books about:
A) Jack the Ripper
B) Ghosts

These are two obsessions which first appeared when I was a mere child and have continued over the years without any sign of disappearing.  I share this obsession with a sibling or two, so I don't feel quite so weird--just a little.  If I could spend my free moments as a ghost investigator, I would be blissfully happy.  

And yes, I have dragged friends along on a Ripper tour in London.  At night.  In the cold.  A tad bit disappointing, since most of the places are gone, and Mary Kelly's spot is now a parking garage.  Oh well.

There are quite a few Ripper novels out for teens lately, and I've been busy reading them.  I have to say, each one is so very different, and I haven't been disappointed yet!  Such imagination in every story.  The Ripper by Amy Carol Reeves takes us into the heart of the Ripper murders:  Whitechapel.  Arabella Sharp has arrived in London to live with her wealthy Grandmother, who decides she needs to teach Arabella how to appreciate all that wealth can offer a young woman.  Grandmother tells Arabella she will be volunteering at Whitechapel hospital--surely this will curb Arabella's wanderlust!

Instead, Arabella quickly discovers she loves working at the hospital, which treats mainly prostitutes and very poor women.  She becomes friends with two young physicians:  William and Simon.  Her thoughts begin to turn towards attending medical school, with the hopes of becoming a doctor.  But prostitutes who have been patients at the hospital are starting to turn up murdered in the alleys of Whitechapel.  Is there a connection?  And what about Arabella's strange visions of men in robes, and chanting?  Does Jack the Ripper have supernatural powers?  

Jack is a creepy man--that's been well established.  But in this novel, the creep factor is turned up a notch.  Arabella can see Jack in her visions--and he's climbing down buildings sideways and knows she's watching him.  Super chilling!

Loved this book.  Can't wait for a sequel.  Rating:  4/5 for imaginative storyline, strong female character, and the struggle for women to break into the world of medicine.  Thanks to NetGalley for a review copy!

My next review is about a ghost story set in England.  I know--not so original, right?  But it is, and I thoroughly enjoyed this quick read.  The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James is set in post-World War One England.  Sarah Piper is a very poor young woman living in London, working temp jobs and just existing.  She gets a call to work for a young man--Alistair Gellis--who investigates hauntings.  He's been called to Waringstoke to remove a ghost from a barn. This ghost is a young woman--Maddy Clare--who hung herself in the barn on the property where she worked as a servant.  And this ghost is one angry ghost.  So angry that she's destroyed the inside of the barn.  

What's the story with Maddy?  As you move along the story, you discover she appeared one rainy night at the doorstep of Mr. and Mrs. Clare, bloody, beaten, muddy, and unable to say a word.  No one knows where she came from, and she's been molested.   She stays with the Clares and becomes part of their household.  Until seven years later, when she hangs herself in the barn.  Why?

Sarah and Alistair are soon joined by Matthew Ryder, Alistair's assistant-and they attempt to communicate with Maddy.  This goes horribly wrong--Maddy is so strong and hates men so much she is a threat to them all.  Why is she so angry?  The three investigators are up against a village that is suspicious, a secret kept for years, and a ghost that is determined to exact revenge one way or another.

I really enjoyed this novel, and am looking forward to another next year.  The time period really set the mood--early 1920's.  The effects of World War One are still resonating throughout England, and Alistair and Matthew are vets who can't quite escape the horrors of what they saw as soldiers on the front line.  

A ghost story with that lovely gothicky tweak I so enjoy; a not so typical ghost, and all sorts of unpleasant people trying to hide something.  A quick read for a stormy night.
Rating:  3/5; Good story, but felt Sarah could have grown a spine a bit quicker in the story.  

1 comment :

  1. Hi Sue.....both of these sound like great reads. I'm going to have to raid my piggy bank to begin buying some of these great finds.