After her parents are offered teaching jobs in Bristol, England, american girl Rory convinces her parents to go to a boarding school in London. In London a Jack the Ripper-copycat has started killing people on the same dates and with the same methods as the original Jack the Ripper. At first Rory doesn't get scared but more fascinated, but then weird things start to happen to her. The police are left with no witnesses or clues except for one thing, Rory saw and even talked to a man close to the murder scene on the night of the last murder. The strange thing is that her friend Jazza didn't see or hear him even though she was right there. Rory finds her self not only being an important witness but now also one of the murderer's main targets. And this is not the last time she can see people other's can't. This is the first book in the Shades of London-series.
Rory is a small town girl from Louisiana with many weird relatives and is more straight forward than many of her new english friends. The stories about her relatives and the way she struggles adjusting to the british culture is funny but I still find her to be a little boring and uninspired as a main character. She is both smart and funny but she does'nt show a lot of emotions, you are just told about them. She finds her group of friends early on consisting of her roommate Jazza, Jerome, the not so nice Charlotte, and a couple of others.
I think we get to know too little about the characters because I don't get any feelings for them, I dont like them nor do I dislike them. For instance I can't remember if we are told what any of them look like except Jerome's got curly hair. I especially think Jerome is a very vague character and he is part of the book from the beginning and is an important character to Rory. If a book's heroine is going to have a romance should't you at least get to know what's attractive about the guy? Later we meet a new group through her other and new room-mate Boo and I find these people a little more intriguing. Especially Boo is easier for me to picture than the rest. I'm guessing we get to know more about all of them in later books.
I did like the way the story plotted around the Jack the Ripper-mystery and we got details from the real case while reading about the new one. There were some short sidecuts to the story about a reporter and a Jack the Ripper-expert that gave some extra information and this strenghtens the book. I didn't know a lot about Jack the Ripper beforehand, but now I know a lot more. I found this book most interesting and exciting during the first half and than again in the end but during the rest, I just wasn't that into it. One one hand you have the plot of the murder investigation and on the other there is Rory finding out about her abilities and learning about the ghost police and their background. In the end I found the second plot to be the more interesting and this story will continue in two more books so there is light in the tunnel;-) What I didn't get about the mystery plot is the murderer's motives. I found them a bit too unlikely and that partly ruins that part of the book for me.
It takes about two thirds of the book before the action starts for real and this time is not mainly spent to develop characters or build suspense. I actually didn't mind it being a bit slow in the beginning but at a certain point I wanted something more. I like to read about the daily life of teenagers in boarding school but something's not working when what they eat, hockey-sessions and other trivialities almost gets the same amount of attention as the plot and the characters. As I said earlier we don't really get to know or feel any of the characters and even though the plot is promising it's not enough to make this a great experience. I also think the lack of involvement from Rory made me less involved as well. I still think the last part of the book was intriguing and the characters of Boo, Callum and Stephen seems promising and more alive than the others. I might have to wait and hear what others think of the second book before I decide to continue with this series or not. Because even though it could be read as a stand-alone I find it more promising as the first book in a trilogy.
I bought the audiobook for myself.