A Taste for Monsters by Matthew J. Kirby
Published September 27, 2016, by Scholastic Press.
YA > Historical Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Paranormal
Fear the living more than the dead.
It’s London 1888, and Jack the Ripper is terrorizing the people of the city. Evelyn, a young woman disfigured by her dangerous work in a matchstick factory, who has nowhere to go, does not know what to make of her new position as a maid to the Elephant Man in the London Hospital. Evelyn wants to be locked away from the world, like he is, shut in from the filth and dangers of the streets. But in Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man, she finds a gentle kindred who does not recoil from her and who understands her pain.
When the murders begin, however, Joseph and Evelyn are haunted nightly by the ghosts of the Ripper’s dead, setting Evelyn on a path to facing her fears and uncovering humanity’s worst nightmares.
Thanks to the publisher for providing me an ARC for review!
I was immediately drawn to this one when I read that it involved Jack the Ripper. Books that are set during his killings are terrifying yet fascinating to me (in the most normal way possible, I promise). There have been more and more YAs set with his murders as a backdrop, so I was intrigued to see what set this book apart from the others.
What I really enjoyed about this book was how the now well-known Ripper storyline was not the main focus. Instead, it was the story of Joseph Merrick, better known as the Elephant Man. Previous to this story I had never read a book featuring him before. I really enjoyed the way that the reader gets to know him as a person right along with Evelyn. She was a strong young woman, with a kind heart, and lots of ambition. Their relationship grows to be one that is really very sweet. They initially have a connection because of their deformities, but it grows through their common interests and time spent together.
The way in which the murders are incorporated into Evelyn and Mr. Merrick’s story was interesting, but was the one part of book that I thought was a bit of a stretch. I did love the mystery surrounding the ghosts of each of the victims, and Evelyn’s mission to bring them peace. Yet, I felt there was a bit of disconnect in the incorporation of both well-known historical figures. While both were obviously integral to the book, I can’t help but feel that it was not as believable for that reason.
That being said, I did really like A Taste for Monsters. The writing was immersive and the plot was exciting. The ending was surprising and emotional, and left me satisfied.