I should start this review with a disclaimer that I rarely read historical fiction and I was not at all familiar with this author. That will probably all change now! First, the blurb:
London’s East End, 1888: When darkness falls, terror begins...
The foggy streets of London’s Whitechapel district have become a nocturnal hunting ground for Jack the Ripper, and no woman is safe. Flower girl Constance Piper is not immune to dread, but she is more preoccupied with her own strange experiences of late.
Clairvoyants seem to be everywhere these days. Constance’s mother has found comfort in contacting her late father in a séance. But are such powers real? And could Constance really be possessed of second sight? She longs for the wise counsel of her mentor and champion of the poor, Emily Tindall, but the kind missionary has gone missing.
Following the latest grisly discovery, Constance is contacted by a high-born lady of means who fears the victim may be her missing sister. She implores Constance to use her clairvoyance to help solve the crime, which the press is calling “the Whitechapel Mystery,” attributing the murder to the Ripper.
As Constance becomes embroiled in intrigue far more sinister than she could have imagined, assistance comes in a startling manner that profoundly challenges her assumptions about the nature of reality. She’ll need all the help she can get—because there may be more than one depraved killer out there...
Even though I know first-hand how much effort authors put into those little summaries that go on Amazon and Goodreads, I really don't feel this blurb does the story justice. Basically, while Jack the Ripper has the entire city in a state of panic, Constance has started having vivid dreams/visions about events she couldn't possibly know the details of. She is desperate to find her mentor, Emily, who has disappeared and becomes involved with a rich woman whose sister is also missing.
This story grabbed me from the first chapter and didn't let go. I almost had to cancel lunch with my husband because I was at 87% and NEEDED to know what was going to happen!
The characters are relatable with layers of complexity and humor. Even the secondary characters are well-formed and realistic.The descriptions put the reader right into the streets of London in 1888 without overwhelming the plot and the plot...I could hardly read fast enough to get the next twist.
Everything fell together in a logical manner and wrapped up enough with just enough loose ends to make me interested in the next book.
The two aspects kept this from being a perfect read for me. One, the alternating point-of-view made it hard to settle in and fully enjoy a character. The constant changing slowed the momentum of the story for me several times. At one point, one of the POV characters starts addressing the reader and that is just a personal pet peeve.
The other was the heavy-handedness of Constance's slang word choices. I understand the author is trying to capture the dialect of the time period and Constance's particular circumstance, but several times I was yanked out of the story by a word I'd never encountered and had to look up. That may have just been my personal lack of experience with historical fiction and the fact I'm American.
Those aside, I would whole-heartedly recommend this to a friend and will be looking for the next book in the series.