by Kat Ross
Publication Date: October 12th 2016
Genres: Historical, Mystery, Young Adult
Find it On: Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo
It’s August of 1888, just three weeks before Jack the Ripper will begin his grisly spree in the London slum of Whitechapel, and another serial murderer is stalking the gas-lit streets of New York. With taunting messages in backwards Latin left at the crime scenes and even more inexplicable clues like the fingerprints that appear to have been burned into one victim’s throat, his handiwork bears all the hallmarks of a demonic possession.
But consulting detective Harrison Fearing Pell is convinced her quarry is a man of flesh and blood. Encouraged by her uncle, Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry hopes to make her reputation by solving the bizarre case before the man the press has dubbed Mr. Hyde strikes again.
From the squalor of the Five Points to the high-class gambling dens of the Tenderloin and the glittering mansions of Fifth Avenue, Harry and her best friend, John Weston, follow the trail of a remorseless killer, uncovering a few embarrassing secrets of New York’s richest High Society families along the way. Are the murders a case of black magic—or simple blackmail? And will the trail lead them closer to home than they ever imagined?
Author Bio:Kat Ross worked as a journalist at the United Nations for ten years before happily falling back into what she likes best: making stuff up. She lives in Westchester with her kid and a few sleepy cats. Kat is also the author of the dystopian thriller Some Fine Day (Skyscape, 2014), about a world where the sea levels have risen sixty meters. She loves magic, monsters and doomsday scenarios. Preferably with mutants.
The Daemoniac is a charming-yet-eerie mystery perfect for young fans of Sherlock Holmes, Jekyll and Hyde, and other such dark mysteries.
The story follows teenager Harry Pell, the niece of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, whose older sister, Myrtle, is an investigator and the inspiration for their uncle's Sherlock Holmes. Having always lived in her sister's shadow, Harry jumps at the opportunity to take on a murder case of her own, but when it turns dangerously towards the occult, she realizes she may have taken on more than she can handle.
Ross has written a great twist on the classic mystery genre. Set in the late 1800's with a teenage female lead, there's a lot of girl-power and badassery going on that makes Harry a great protagonist. Without going into spoilers, there are many (possibly?) supernatural twists that, much like the Sherlock Holmes books, leave you wondering if everything can truly be explained with logic or if there's something more sinister going on.
The plot had plenty of twists and turns that kept me on the edge of my seat. I did guess the who-done-it early on, but there were so many new revelations that had me second-guessing myself constantly. It was way harder to solve than most YA mysteries I've read!
The book is also very witty in its nods to classic literature. Aside from the obvious ACD tie-in and the murderer being named Mr. Hyde, there are several name drops (an actress named Vane, a priest named Alighieri) that tie this in with the dark and the occult (and some of my favorite books!)
With so much going on, unfortunately what I missed was attachment to the characters. Aside from Harry, her housekeeper, and a street-kid named Connor, there were too many characters to get attached to in a fairly short book. Even two of Harry's cohorts, John and Edward, felt out of place to me at times. The biggest gap to me was that Harry's sister, Myrtle, whose existence hovered over Harry for the entire book, never had any dialogue in the book.
Despite those shortcomings, this book was a wild ride! The mystery was exciting and the implications of the occult could be genuinely terrifying. 3.5/5 stars!