Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ripper by Amy Carol Reeves

Ripper
by Amy Carol Reeves

In 1888, following her mother's sudden death, 17-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.

Hmm, that description doesn't quite tell the whole story.
Arabella, or Abbie as her friends call her, feels trapped in the Kensington high society her grandmother wants her to travel in and jumps at the opportunity to work at the hospital in Whitechapel.  In fact, she spends as much time as possible there to escape the teas and gossip her grandmother insists she attend.  And her mother and grandmother were estranged at the time of her mother's death. Her grandmother disowned Abbie's mother for eloping with a French poet.  Abbie grew up in Dublin while her mother worked as a governess for various wealthy families.  

At first, the work is gruesome and some of the doctors and nurses don't think she's up to the challenge of the hard labor being the granddaughter of Lady Westfield. But, they don't know she's grown up on the streets of Dublin and lived a hard life in between her mother's governess jobs.  She's an expert with a knife and gone without food at times for lack of money.  She's not the privileged girl they expect and she proves not only invaluable but extremely intelligent and willing to learn. In fact, she has determined she wants to go to medical college.  And her grandmother's friend that runs the hospital, Dr. Bartlett, has taken a special interest in her education and in her, treating her as an equal instead of just a woman, as many men would have in that day.

But, then, patients from the Whitechapel Hospital start dying the day they are voluntarily released. Dying by the hand of a psychopathic murderer. I think we all know the Jack the Ripper stories so I won't go into the details.  This story puts a different if implausible twist on who Jack the Ripper was, but it was an interesting  story. I didn't realize this was a paranormal story until I was midway through but I feel a little dumb, visions should have clued me in. I also felt a little confused as I read, like maybe a little too much was going on. There was the Jack the Ripper killings, the romance (love triangle) and then another aspect that I won't mention because it will be a spoiler. And the paranormal story which didn't only include Abbie's visions.  I didn't know what to focus on.  It turned out that two of the storylines converged into one and the love triangle resolved easily so eventually things came together, but for a bit, I had too many names and tangents to try to remember what was going on.

I liked Abbie, she was analytical and as she tells the story, she spoke in the cool calm tones of women of that day and social standing were required to. She reminded me of the women from a Jane Austen novel (not the silly ones).  Even when she was scared  out of her mind, she remained calm and able to focus and keep cool. Not me, I'd have run screaming and hollering, but I'm guessing that wouldn't be what a proper lady would do.

William and Simon are two of the doctors at the Whitechapel Hospital that admire/desire Abbie.  Mary Kelly works at the hospital, too. Abbie got her a job there.  And then there are the infamous parties at Dr. Bartlett's home where his housemates reside, a professor of literature, a reverend and a scientist. And Bartlett's nephew Max who pops in and out of the house.  Abbie finds herself intrigued by him but repelled by him as well.

In all, I really enjoyed the story. It definitely wasn't trying to solve the Jack the Ripper murders with the paranormal twist to it, but I liked what Reeves added to the story. It was always to me a bit scary, with London being gloomy or dark or rainy. And those big old houses with their four stories and not enough people to fill them. Gothic, romantic, dangerous, and Jack the Ripper. All with a paranormal twist.  What more could you ask for??  Right?
                                                                                           
                                                                                                    Heather

I received a copy of this novel from the Publisher Flux through Net Galley. I appreciate them letting me read it. This in no way influenced my review.



14 comments:

  1. This one sounds like something I'd enjoy I'm going to go pick it up!

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    1. Glad it's up your alley! Hope you enjoy it!

      Heather

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  2. I've always had a somewhat morbid fascination with the lore behind Jack the Ripper, so this is something I'll have to look into. And it sounds like the main character is worth meeting! :)

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    1. Yep, loved Abbie. She did not get her feathers ruffled easily. Nerves of steel, but also a bit removed from the reader. I never felt compassion or empathy for her. Maybe because her emotions were so distant. But if you love Ripper stories, you'll love this one.

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  3. Still not sure about this one. I read some really bad reviews of it elsewhere. I think I'm going to pass on it for now.

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    1. Well, I didn't think it was bad. But I wasn't rushing to pick it back up. I'm not sure what it lacked, maybe the paranormal wasn't enough. Or too much?

      Heather

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  4. Ive been curious about this but thought it might be too creepy for my tastes. I didn't know there was paranormal either... It seems like every book ive read lately has confused me a bit so the multiple things going on kind of turns me off. But I guess that's better than being bored, right?

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    1. Candace-
      I don't think I was ever bored, but I wasn't sitting down to read it in one sitting. That's a real tell for me. And it wasn't that creepy. Maureen Johnson's Name of the Star was much scarier.

      Heather

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  5. Didn't know this had been on NG. I love books about Jack the Ripper. LOL Okay, I know that's rather creepy...but I think it's the gloomy Victorian era and the dangerous London that you describe in your review. Speaking of Jack the Ripper, I still haven't read The Name of the Star. Great review!

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    1. Oh sorry, but Name of the Star is a much better book. It may be set in present day, but has all the best of the creepy London feel to it. And a touch of humor.

      The paranormal element made the killer complete implausible. No way was this the real killer. You'll see. In fact, it kind of took the focus off the killings. It became the focus. They might have called the book something else.

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  6. I would love to give this one a read too. I have a (sad & gloomy)soft spot for Jack the Ripper stories (yeah, I know...I don't get it either). The two many characters going on can drive me nuts too if they aren't easily discernible.

    - Jessica @ Book Sake

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    1. I love Ripper stories. I think most people are so interested because he was never caught. It's one of those things we'll never know. I think one day, we'll all get to know those secrets. I'm thinking upon death.
      Aliens, the Lost Colony, vampires, Atlantis, all that stuff. I'm hoping for some huge library where I get to learn everything at my leisure (of course written by some fabulous authors)!

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  7. I've read a couple reviews where people have questioned the paranormal element and whether it was really a necessary addition to the Jack the Ripper plot. Do you think the story would have been better without it Heather? Overall it still sounds fascinating, and as creepy and morbid as it is, I've always found the Jack the Ripper stories intriguing. There are things wrong with me:)

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    1. I thought this paranormal element was a little...I think it took you off the Jack the Ripper story. As I said, it made who Jack the Ripper was totally implausible because of the paranormal element. I think it made it less of a Ripper story and more of a paranormal story. And there's nothing wrong with you, I'm fascinated by it. I thought Maureen Johnson did the paranormal element much better b/c the focus remained on the Ripper killings or copycat killings.

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