I am obsessed with tales of Jack the Ripper because no one really knows who he was. [Editor’s note: It looks like they might have?!] This book, the first in a series, offers an alternate history of Jack’s reign of terror.
Arabella Sharpe, orphaned and at the mercy of her grandmother, is finding life within the stifling cage of social propriety boring and unfulfilling. Her grandmother has decided to “toughen” Arabella’s character by sending her to Whitechapel to volunteer at a woman’s hospital. Life there is rough and dark, but Arabella has resolved to stay and help no matter what the cost. She is soon a first-hand witness to the dilemma of the poor and unwanted when things take an even worse turn. Aided by her “visions”, Arabella gets deeply involved with a secret society bent on catching a monster. She quickly becomes instrumental in solving the gruesome clues left by a deadly serial killer as she follows “him” through London’s East End. This book is definitely a page-turner with a twist on a story that has been told and retold. You will not be disappointed with this series.
My Favorite Character
I love Arabella’s character and the strength it takes for her not to turn and run away. She does not settle into a life of comfort and makes her own decisions to be an active member of a society that sees her as a mere object.
Words to Live By
At the beginning of each chapter, there are quotes from Jane Eyre which remind us of how women were regarded during the Victorian era:
“I was weary of an existence all passive.”
“Women are supposed to be very calm generally; but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow minded… to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to play on the piano and embroidering bags.”
This is a young adult book, however, the story kept my adult-self intrigued to the last page and have now moved on to the next book in the series. Also, this series is the author’s debut novel. She has a PhD in Nineteenth Century British Literature which gives this series the realistic edge that conveys the social conformities and how, during that time, things had to change.
It is not often that I come across a well-written and pragmatic mediation on the purpose of life in a novel. This series will teach and leave the reader with a sense of curiosity about the indignations of how people regard one another according to the social norms of the time.
You can check out Ripper today!