The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

The basics

Title: The Name of the Star


Series: Shades of London #1

- The Name of the Star (2011)
- The Madness Underneath (2013)
- The Shadow Cabinet (2014)

Add it: Goodreads

Goodreads Summary:

The day that Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London to start a new life at boarding school is also the day a series of brutal murders breaks out over the city, killings mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper spree of more than a century ago. Soon "Rippermania" takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him--the only one who can see him. And now Rory has become his next target. In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities.

Read a full summary of The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson below. If you can’t remember what happened in The Name of the Star and you need a refresher, then you’re in the right place.

in short

Rory moves to London and attends a boarding school. Someone is recreating the Jack the Ripper murders. Rory can see ghosts, and she joins a small team of ghost busting individuals and helps them figure out who is murdering the women. It’s a ghost called Alexander Newman, who used to be a ghost busting person too before he killed himself and several others in an abandoned Tube station. Rory and co confront him, but Rory gets stabbed. A ghost called Jo comes and saves Rory, sacrificing herself in the process. Rory slowly recovers and discovers that when she touches a ghost, she feels a current and sees a light, and the ghost disappears. She seems to be a human terminus.

what happened in the name of the star?

  • Rory and her parents are moving to England. She’s going to a boarding school – Wexford – in London while her parents teach in Bristol.
  • A body is found on the street where Jack the Ripper’s first victim was killed. Someone seems to be recreating the murders.
  • Rory meets her roommate, Jazza. She also meets a guy called Alastair in the library.
  • There’s a second victim named Fiona Chapman. The second Jack the Ripper victim was called Annie Chapman. Rory and Jerome go to check out the crime scene in the alley. They tell Jazza they’re going to the pub and taken her with them.
  • A woman called Veronica works near the crime scene and her CCTV caught the murder on camera. The killer seems to be invisible.
  • When the time comes for the third murder to take place, there’s police all over London in an attempt to prevent it. Rory’s school sets a curfew.
  • Rory and Jazza sneak out onto the roof with Jerome. They listen to the news together. There’s been no fourth body yet. They go to bed, and on the way back to their room Rory sees a creepy guy.
  • When they get up in the morning, a body has been found on the school grounds. Rory tells the police about the guy she saw but they are hesitant to believe her since neither Jazza or Jerome saw him.
  • There’s a young guy on the grounds who Rory thinks is a reporter posing as a cop.
  • Rory sees the CCTV footage and is royally creeped out.
  • James Goode, a TV presenter, receives a letter and reads it out on camera. It’s very similar to Jack the Ripper’s letter to the police. The BBC cut the broadcast.
  • Jazza and Rory get a new roommate called Boo. Rory thinks she’s weird and is suspicious of her. Rory, Boo and Jerome go on an Art History trip to a museum at Charing Cross. Rory sees a woman that no one else can see.
  • Boo wanders off and Rory follows her. Boo meets up with the policeman from the school, and the ghost woman whose name is Jo. Rory sees people walk through Jo and she gets freaked out.
  • Stephen takes Boo and Rory back to his place, where a guy called Callum is waiting. Stephen asks if Rory recently had a brush with death. Since she almost choked at dinner, she’s able to see dead people. Stephen also thinks that genetics play a part in it. No one develops the ability after eighteen or nineteen. There are people like this throughout the government.
  • Turns out that the modern day Ripper is a ghost.
  • Boo’s job is to look out for Rory. Stephen’s a real cop, and Callum is undercover on the Underground.
  • Boo was in a car accident and almost died. She saw Jo while she was in the car, and they’ve been best friends ever since.
  • Alastair from the library is a ghost. He has an asthma attack in his sleep back in 1989. Rory asks him to help her with an assignment in exchange for music.
  • Rory and Jerome have “a complicated thing going on.”
  • Callum is a Chelsea supporter. This is tres important information.
  • Rory, Boo, Callum, and Stephen go and talk to a ghost on the Underground so Rory can have an experience.
  • The modern day Ripper ghost finds Rory at a school dance and they have a chat. He used to have the sight like she does. He gets angry and shoves Boo in front of a car. Boo is taken to hospital, and Stephen comes to get Rory.
  • “The name of the star is what you fear.” is written on a board while some Ripperologists are having a dicussion. Rory and Stephen see it on the news. It’s a quote from the book of Revelation. Something about poisoned water and stuff.
  • The last sentence of the James Goode letter is about Rory. “I look forward to visiting the one with the sight to know me and plucking out her eyes.”
  • Jo reveals that she died during the Blitz. She tells Rory that she shouldn’t be afraid of the dead, or of modern day Ripper.
  • Callum takes Rory to the Underground because there’s a ghost messing with one of the switches. Callum shows Rory his special cell phone. If you hold down the 1 and 9 buttons when you’re within a foot of a ghost, thee ghost explodes and goes away.
  • Callum reveals that he nearly died when a ghost tried to electrocute him.
  • Stephen gives Rory a special cell phone – a terminus. Termini have diamonds in them, and when a current runs through the diamond, it emits a pulse to get rid of ghosts.
  • Rory gets texts from modern day Ripper. He tells her to go to a disused Tube station – King William Street. Six cops died there in the 90’s, and modern day Ripper was one of them. His name is Alexander Newman. He was part of a “special branch”.
  • Rory and co come up with a plan to draw Alexander Newman away from Wexford so Rory can get out. Stephen calls Sergeant Maybride to ask him to tell him about the deaths at King William Street. Maybride reveals that there were reports of officers down, so the police responded. when they got there, they found five bodies in one place, and then Newman’s body was further into the tunnels. It was classed as a drug raid, but there was no evidence of drugs. It looked as though Newman did it and killed himself. Newman was holding a Walkman when he died, and Stephen thinks that it might have been a terminus.
  • Jo hands out papers that say “The eyes will come to you.” so that Newman can see the message.
  • Stephen’s original story of how he almost died (a boating accident) is fake. His sister died of an overdose, and Stephen tried to hang himself. A ghost saved him. Stephen was taken to a mental health facility, and someone came and hired him to do this ghost busting business.
  • Rory goes down onto the platform at King Williams Street alone. Stephen waits on the stairs, and Callum comes through the tunnels.
  • Newman turns the lights off. Stephen tells Rory to use her terminus. Newman injects Stephen with insulin – a fatal dose. He says he’ll trade the treatment for all the termini.
  • Newman reveals that he got the sight after a ghost knocked him off his bike. He was recruited, and came up with experiments to try to find out what causes this ability. He’d use insulin to put them into a coma. The powers that be discovered his experiments and Newman was stripped of his powers and status. He says that he came down to the secret platform that day to acquire a new terminus, but his fellow officers wouldn’t cooperate. He shot them all.
  • Callum and Rory give up their termini, and since the third is still at Wexford, Rory offers to take Newman to go get it. Rory gets the treatment and injects Stephen with it.
  • Newman takes the diamonds out of the termini and chucks them into the Thames. The diamonds have names – Hypnos, Thanatos, and Persephone. Persephone is the one at Wexford.

how did it end?

When they reach Wexford, Boo gives the terminus to Newman. Newman still plans on killing Rory. Rory asks him to do it in a bathroom, so they go in there. He slashes her stomach. He tells Rory that when he died, his fingers were on his terminus and he thinks this made him stronger when he returned. He gives Rory the terminus so that she has a better chance of coming back.

Jo arrives and sacrifices herself by pressing the buttons on the terminus. “Who are you?” “Flight Sergeant Josephine Bell of the Women’s Auxiliary Airforce.” *cries*

Rory is sent to hospital. Stephen is there too and he’s fine. Rory recovers. Two higher ups want Rory to confirm that this is all over. They tell Rory to keep all this a secret. The cover story is that the modern day Ripper died in the Thames. Rory’s parents want to take her to Bristol, so Rory goes to collect her things from school. She sees a ghost and she touches it. She feels a current and sees a light and the ghost is gone.

anything else

Shades – Ghost busters
Terminus – Deadly cell phone for ghosts

This is a full plot summary of what happened in The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson. Check out our recap list for more recaps. If you can’t find what you need, you can request a recap from us!


  • I thought this was a great book!

  • beautifully written book that blew be away at age 11

  • I love how the book comes with so many suprises! Can’t wait to read the rest of the series!! 🙂

  • Kat Niche says:

    How old is Steven?

  • Oh, My Gosh! This was one the best books that I’ve read in my whole life!!!

  • Can you guys do book 2? 🙂 I think it’s really great how you summarize everything, since book 3 is coming out in february 10th I’m guessing many people would like to read a recap of book 2 ^^ anyway great job!! Loved this book!!

  • 1d lover says:

    I personally love this book i read it for something my high school is doing. It is one of the best books I’ve ever read

  • Mariah Klaus says:

    I was having trouble finding what the newspaper was in the book. Was it Star Newspaper?

    • Mariah Klaus says:

      Actually I found it, thank you anyways.

  • Kerrie says:

    How did rory develop over the book? and how did the ripper develop? if someone could help me that would be amazing

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