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Ripperology: Saucy Jack is back

Jack the Ripper has been creeping into children’s literature recently: Gordon Korman included him in his 2011 Titanic trilogy (Scholastic). (Incorporating a Ripper mystery aboard the famed ship now marking the 100th anniversary of its sinking? That should sell a few books.) Last September saw the release of the first book in Maureen Johnson’s exciting new Shades of London series, The Name of the Star (Putnam), a modern-day story combining paranormal activity and a Ripper-esque murder mystery. For the Horn Book Magazine’s March 2012 issue I reviewed Stefan Petrucha’s Ripper (Philomel, March), a turn-of-the-century steampunk re-visioning of Ripper lore, in which the fourteen-year-old protagonist discovers his father is the infamous serial killer. Amy Carol Reeves’s paperback mystery set in 1888 Whitechapel is also titled Ripper (Flux, April) and involves Saucy Jack, psychics, and a secret immortal group.

Is this a new trend, or is it just coincidence that multiple Ripper books have been released lately? Barry Lyga’s new book I Hunt Killers (Little, Brown, April) seems to take some cues from the popular TV show Dexter. Perhaps these Ripper books are inspired by the show as well. Any other idea about what’s sparking this newfound interest in the notorious Whitechapel serial killer?

Are books about serial killers the successors to the paranormal craze? The children’s book market can be as methodical yet unpredictable as Jack himself was—I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Do you know of other Ripper books in the pipeline?

Cynthia K. Ritter About Cynthia K. Ritter

Cynthia K. Ritter is associate editor of The Horn Book Guide. She earned a master's degree in children's literature from Simmons College.



  1. Roger Sutton Roger Sutton says:

    I think we should do a Jack the Ripper–Downton Abbey mashup.

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