Interest level: 14-adult
Mysteries are a rare thing in young adult fiction these days. So when I come across a new author of YA mysteries, and it’s the first in a series, AND it’s well-written … joy! Johnson’s new novel, the first in the Shades of London series, draws on the tradition of Lois Duncan and Enid Blyton. She uses suspense and a touch of the supernatural as she tells the story of Rory Deveaux, a New Orleans teen whose parents move to England and she finds herself at a boarding school. A series of murders quickly reveals itself to be a replication of the work of Jack the Ripper, forcing the school into lockdown. London is abuzz with fascination and fear as crowds gather at Ripper’s murder locations to wait for the next killing. The killer keeps avoiding capture and even detection, despite the ubiquitous street cameras. Rory is pulled into danger as the story unfolds, as she discovers a secret about herself that links her unavoidably to the killer. Johnson is a great writer – this is her 11th YA novel and this series will garner a strong following, appealing to those who enjoy Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments quartet. I loved this story and can’t wait for the next one.