I found this book while perusing the YA section of my local library. The title and cover immediately caught my eye as I’ve been watching Ripper Street lately and am reading (and writing) lots of historical fiction these days.
Abbie Sharp is a young woman who has just returned to London after the death of her mother, to live with her very Victorian grandmother in a stuffy mansion. Sharp is just as her name suggests: perceptive, suspicious, and capable of sticking up for herself thanks to her somewhat rough and tumble childhood in Ireland. Her backstory is perfect for explaining why she is so unlike the typical women of her class and breeding at the time. Of course, so are her visions of Jack the Ripper.
The author, Amy Carol Reeves has a PhD in Victorian Literature, and it shows in her knowledge of the time period and its details. She creates a very believable world from the mores and values, to the Victorian obsession with science and technology and categorizing people, animals and other ‘tangibles’. I especially appreciated how Reeves includes the medicalization of childbirth during this era and the experimentation on C-sections. It really all does connect well with Jack the Ripper and heightens the sense of death and foreboding.
Reeves really hits her stride in the last third of the book, and I bet her next titles will be even tighter in their pacing and paranormal flourishes. I’ll look forward to reading them and recommending them to young and old(er) alike for a fascinating window into this period and place.