Thursday, 12 May 2016

The Reaper’s Breath (The Ripper Legacies Book 1) by R Southworth

Review by Emma Powell

*** The author of this book has kindly offered a paperback copy of the book to one lucky reader. To be in with a chance to win, just leave a comment below or on our Facebook Page. The winner will be drawn on Friday the 20th May ***

"The Ripper hunts within the streets of London but now, he has become the prey ... "

This is what caught my attention; one line that grabbed me immediately and instinct told me this was going to be a gripping read.  Different but gripping ... I wasn’t wrong.  The thought of such a real-life deranged killer getting a taste of his own medicine - one who avoided capture, grotesquely taking lives like he (or she?!) did whilst remaining a mystery to this day - makes this a must-read.

The book starts off with an in-depth background story on our protagonist, William Harkness.  Or should I say, Captain William Harkness.  To begin with, the reader may wonder what on earth this story - one of a nineteenth century soldier’s lot, his family, his army life, his loves and hates - has to do with the Ripper.  To be honest, I was intrigued by William’s story and forgot completely about the original premise but this is laying the foundation of the man and feeds effortlessly into how Captain William Harkness came to be the hunter of the Ripper.

The author’s talent shows very early on in the book.  Not only is the language kept precise, his ability to transfer you from the dusty, harsh war environment of nineteenth century Afghanistan to the squalour of London’s alleys is quite astounding.  Not forgetting the plushness of the life William could have, of what is still there in the background and is cleverly woven into the story; comfort and an easier life maybe there for William but it is not an option.  And the first couple of chapters of the life he made for himself lay testament to that (yes, I had fallen in love with William by this stage!).

Captain William Harkness is by no means an angel.  He has a strained relationship with his father, struggles with memories of losing his mother as a young boy and his love interest is not straightforward.  He is a man of morals and conscience but is also a trained killer from his military days and can fight as dirty as he needs to.  The author creates a real, thick atmosphere of fear and danger when William has to defend his corner; William doesn’t always savour triumph either.

William’s supporting characters have such depth to them you will occasionally be in for a shock. We have a wolf in sheep’s clothing, one who is scarily tough but genuine and we have loyalty as well as disloyalty.  The author uses these characters to their full potential and often takes the reader completely by surprise; events happen that I can guarantee you will NOT see coming and you will be left disappointed, thrilled, relieved, sad, happy and aghast.  But never bored. You won’t have time to be bored as there is always that ‘what happens next’ and you’ll be reading non-stop.

It is a read that is very typical of being a page-turner; the plot is kept tight, any digression is relevant to the the storyline and events that are happening at the time. And then along comes Charles Coldridge.  An antagonist typical of what I always find dangerous; an upstanding member of the community (or rather the appearance of one) who can deftly cover his dealings with the underworld and thus deflect too much attention.  For a while anyway.  His façade may be shallow but he is not to be under-estimated; he is a real danger to William, both in William’s task and personal life.  I believe there will be more of Charles in Book 2.  Just writing about him now makes me shudder - I’ll just leave him there so you can sample him for yourself.

Thankfully, the author has also written a Historical Note which I think is a necessity when one is writing fiction around real events/people and helps give insight to the story a reader has just enjoyed.

As mentioned above, there will be a Book 2 as Reaper’s Breath is actually Book 1 of The Ripper Legacies, the new series by Robert Southworth.  If the real Ripper mystery has fascinated you or not, this book holds its own as stand-alone thriller.  However, you will find this story is a completely different and masterfully fresh take on not just the Ripper, but the fear, angst and distrust that played amongst those determined to catch him, as well as the normal populous that had to live with this evil amongst them.

Robert Southworth and his other books, including the Spartacus series, can be found via the following:


Emma Powell is a book reviewer and occasional blogger and has been with The Review since the beginning in 2014.  Her blog, as Louise Wyatt, can be found at Reviews, Historical Snippets & Other Stuff!


  1. This sounds a cracking read I'd love to win a copy of this book

  2. So glad you enjoyed the book Emma, i appreciate the kind words...

  3. I have not read a book Robert, but would love to.

  4. I have not read a book Robert, but would love to.

  5. 'i would llove to win this. It is just thediversion Ineed, and as everyone on theReview attests,Robert is a hoot!

  6. I love the creepy cover! Count me in

  7. Great review... I have this book, but haven't read it yet. But I'm looking forward to it. It's just a few books away on my reading list.

  8. Great review... I have this book, but haven't read it yet. But I'm looking forward to it. It's just a few books away on my reading list.

  9. I have read it too, but I am up for a freebie!

  10. This sounds very promising from the review.

  11. Fabulous review! I desperately want to read this book!

  12. Personally for me Robert Southworth has the Midas Touch every book I've read has been such a pleasure and have absolutely no doubt this will be just as epic,

  13. Congrats Sharon Bennett ... the draw has taken place and you are the winner of the freebie! Congrats x