I can sum up this book in one phrase: the goodness of Maureen Johnson with ghosts. Awesome creepy ghosts that kill people.
Rory Deveaux has decided, thanks to her parents being university professors and getting a year abroad in England, to spend her senior year at Wexford in London. It’s a boarding school, not exactly posh, but nothing to sneeze at either. The only damper on the whole England school experience is that there’s a copycat Jack the Ripper killer on the loose.
Everything is going fine — there’s even a bit of a love interest with the prefect Jerome — but then a murder happens on campus. And Rory is the only witness the police have.
There are so many little ways in which I love Johnson’s writing: the fact that she can make you laugh (“action butts”) and then turn around and scare the pants off you, for one. Granted, I’m easily scared, so you might want take that with a grain of salt. However, for her first foray into paranormal fiction (another aside: “If there are ghosts, does that mean there are… vampires? And werewolves?” “Don’t be stupid.”), she grasps the fine art of tension amazingly well. It helps that while it’s a gory book, it’s not a graphic one. (Thankfully.)
But it’s also the little descriptions that make her books so enjoyable. Like:
Jerome started violently slicing apart his fried eggs. It was fascinating to watch him eat. He chowed down with the speed and force of a well-organized military campaign. He didn’t so much have breakfast as defeat it.
Seriously. How can you not love someone who can come up with a paragraph like that?
While I thoroughly enjoyed this one, I did feel the last little bit was a little abrupt, and I wish Rory had played more of a part in it. Granted, the part she did play was completely true to her character, so I’m just quibbling. That said, the last chapter was brilliant: and it sets up some intriguing things for the next book.
Which means: I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Rated: Mild for scariness and some mild swearing.