The Madness Underneath – a review

Title: The Madness Underneath

Author: Maureen Johnson

Release Date: February 26, 2013

Source: eBook from NetGalley 

Summary from Goodreads: When madness stalks the streets of London, no one is safe…

There’s a creepy new terror haunting modern-day London. Fresh from defeating a Jack the Ripper killer, Rory must put her new-found hunting skills to the test before all hell breaks loose…

But enemies are not always who you expect them to be and crazy times call for crazy solutions. A thrilling teen mystery.

Jessica’s Review

I read The Name of the Star, the first book in Johnson’s Shades of London trilogy, this past summer.  The Jack the Ripper story line is what originally pulled me in; I had no idea ghosts would play into it. I was hooked on Johnson’s writing in Star and loved the characters.  I could not wait to see where Rory’s story would go at the end of Star.  Overall, Madness does not disappoint.

(If you want to read The Name of the Star, please note there are some minor spoilers in what follows.)

Madness finds Rory living with her parents in Bristol after the Jack the Ripper attack.  Her parents have her in therapy to deal with the attack, but Rory cannot exactly tell her therapist that she can see ghosts and the actual Ripper was a ghost who stabbed her.  Luckily, despite the lack of true progress Rory is making in therapy, her therapist gives Rory the thumbs up to return to school at Wexford as a way to return to her normal life.

Rory has a lot to do with exams looming at Wexford.  It does not make it any easier to catch up on her studies when Rory must come to terms with her “sight” as well as a new found talent in the ghost hunting business.  Plus, while a murder down the street at a local pub seems to have a logical explanation, Rory is not so sure things are necessarily as they seem.  With the help of Stephen, Callum, Boo, and a unique therapist named Jane, Rory attempts to figure everything out and keep it all together.

Ghosts play a much smaller role in Madness than they did Star.  However, Johnson still keeps the tension building as Rory tries to understand the effects of the attack at Wexford.  Rory’s crazy story-telling and humor are still very present.  I found myself literally laughing out loud at some parts.  I love this about Johnson’s writing!  Stephen also becomes a much more central character in this book.  He develops much more than he did in the first one.  We see new sides of him and learn more about him.

As much as I enjoyed the plot, I was disappointed to see how many characters that I liked from Star become very flat and brushed aside.  Jerome seems like he will be an important character again and Rory even comments on how much closer they became while she was in Bristol.  However, he is out of the story in what I feel is a cop-out way fairly early on.  Jazza becomes a very flat character in this installment as well.  I was most disappointed to only see Alisair, my favorite ghosts from Star, in one scene.  However, new characters are brought into the mix to create new and deeper conflicts in Rory’s life.

Overall, I enjoyed this book.  I kept reading in order to learn more and I am hooked to see where the final installment in this trilogy will take us.  Johnson has brought Rory and her friends to a place I was not expecting and I can only imagine where they will go from here.

4/5 stars

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One thought on “The Madness Underneath – a review

  1. I really want to read this one, but after reading your review, and not remembering many of the characters you’ve mentioned, I’m thinking I need to re-read or at least skim The Name of the Star. It’s been so long since I read it!

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