About the book
The Madness Underneath is the second book in the Shades of London series by Maureen Johnson. It has a publication date of 28th March and is published by Harper Collins Children’s Books. The book is 352 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy for review.
Not long ago, Rory Devereaux had a very close call with a Jack the Ripper copycat that nearly ended her life. Instead of staying at school, she was forced to live in Bristol with her parents and attend counselling. When her counsellor suggests going back to school, Rory jumps at the chance. She’s had enough of sitting around being a victim and wants everything to get back to normal. However, after the events with the Ripper, Rory has now gained some extra powers. She’s able to eliminate ghosts with just one touch.
Rory’s good friends, the Shades, were responsible for her return to London though as new deaths cause questions to be raised. The Shades are a secret ghost fighting police and without a terminus to get rid of the ghosts, they need Rory’s help. She knows the deaths are no coincidence but will the Shades listen to her before it is too late?
What I thought
I absolutely loved the first book in this series, The Name of the Star. The whole story with Jack the Ripper, ghosts and the London setting were all extremely interesting and exciting and I couldn’t wait to get back into that world. The Madness Underneath is set a short time after the first book, with protagonist Rory in Bristol with her parents, trying to sort herself out. I really loved getting to know Rory a lot better in this book as she begins to air out her problems and concerns about her life. Nothing is straight forward for her anymore and along with moving to another country, she can’t have it anywhere near easy.
As Rory heads back to London and her school, Wexford, she begins to realise that everything is not as okay as she had hoped. She’s extremely behind in her school work, feels out of place and also has to deal with the ability to see ghosts. I could really sympathise with Rory in this instalment of the trilogy because of her situation. People were there trying to reach out to her although there really aren’t many people around who truly understand what she is going through nor can they help with her problems.
Along with characters from book one being back, there is also a great new range of new characters in this second book. These new characters help to form the plot of The Madness Underneath, which is very different from The Name of the Star. I was a little disappointed though to see that the dark, old and creepy side of London was not included in this book like it was previously. I felt that because of the plot change, and the changes in setting, this book was not nearly as eerie as it could have been.
The first half of this The Madness Underneath was pretty slow going, with us getting to know Rory again and for us to catch up with everything that has been happening with her. The second half of the book though is where it really gets exciting and where the new characters really come into play. Johnson adds in some fantastic twists which I would have never seen coming. With there only being three books, this one ends on such a big cliff-hanger. As soon as I put the book down, I instantly wanted the third and final book in my hands. I have no idea how I’m going to wait to find out what happens next.
Maureen Johnson’s writing is incredibly funny and quirky, which is partly why I love reading this series so much. Although it has a quite serious plot and a scary setting, Johnson injects her personality into the writing. There were numerous times I found myself giggling out loud at suggestions such as pirate bikini models. I wasn’t expecting to find this book as funny as I did but it was nice for everything to not be doom and gloom the whole way through. Johnson sets herself apart from other young adult writers due to her unique style.
Although not quite as dark as the first book, The Madness Underneath is a great middle book which sets the scene for the final book extremely well.