Shadows Fall Away by Kit Forbes is a YA historical fiction/time travel novel that takes place in London’s seedy East End during the time of Jack the Ripper. Mark Stewart, the book’s protagonist, is more of an anti-hero. Brushes with the law have finally caught up to him and he’s on a summer time-out with his Aunt Agatha in London. But when Mark is mysteriously struck by lightning, he’s whisked away to the past. With no money and barely any contacts, Mark has to fend for himself on the mean streets of London.
Genie Trabley, the book’s heroine, is a Victorian teenager on a mission to change the world. She’s horrified at the plight of prostitutes riddled with syphilis. In fact, syphilis is something that Genie knows way more about than a proper young lady should. Disease, death and madness; syphilis sucks.
Mark and Genie’s paths continue to cross over and over again. Genie’s captivated by Mark’s modern attitudes about women’s rights, and Mark uses Genie’s knowledge of the East End to survive. But this isn’t a relationship that is healthy for a modern Victorian girl. The only thing worse than an upper middle class Victorian women falling for a working class guy, is the possibility of being Jack the Ripper’s next victim.
Clearly, Mark has two missions: find a way back to the present and prevent his new friend from being sliced up.
I found Shadows Fall Away to be extremely engrossing. It’s the type of book you want to start and finish in one day because you can’t put it down. I noticed there were some out-of-place apostrophes, but not enough to distract from the–please excuse the pun–killer story line.
I can’t wait to read more from Kit Forbes. This woman knows how to keep a reader coming back for more!