The story is told from the point of view of Carver Young, an orphan without the slightest idea of who his parents were. Carver is also an aspiring young detective who tries out his skills every chance he gets, from picking the lock on the records attic to ferreting out a thief in the ranks of the orphans. Therefore, it should have been a dream come true when he’s taken in by Albert Hawking, a former Pinkerton agent. However, Hawking is no dream. As Carver adjusts to living in an insane asylum (Hawking’s home), a nightmare descends on New York. A nightmare that just might be connected to Carver’s hunt for his father’s identity.
Ah, Ripper…this one goes on my list of favorite YA. It blends a lot of my favorite elements into one nice, neat, readable package. For starters, it’s heavily steampunk. Underground bases, electric cars, stun rods, and lockpick gizmos: I’ll take one of each, please. Secondly, historical characters inserted into fiction. Jack the Ripper, naturally, Teddy Roosevelt, and Allan Pinkerton are all major players, and I think Petrucha did a good job with them. Granted, that may just be my geek side coming through. Those are some of my favorite historical characters.
The characters were all quite well done, as well. There were times when Carter’s skull density irritated me, but for the most part it was good. I loved Hawking. He was such a smart, smug, old curmudgeon who always had a trick up his sleeve. Very fun character.
As far as plot goes, it was an interesting concept. The ending was somewhat predictable once you got a ways into the book, but it was still very, very enjoyable. The writing style and description was excellent, and carried the book in the few places were the plot seemed a little predictable. As I said, the gadgets and the characters had a way of adding twists that you wouldn’t expect and that turn something rather predictable into an entirely new ballgame. There was a lot of action, plenty of intricate escapes, and on the whole, it made for a fun read.