Monday, July 22, 2013

The Madness Underneath (Book Review)

Monday, July 22, 2013 10:02 AM with 8 comments
The Madness Underneath (Shades of London, #2)The Madness Underneath

Author: Maureen Johnson
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Release Date: February 26, 2013
Number of Pages: 290

Synopsis from Goodreads:

After her near-fatal run-in with the Jack the Ripper copycat, Rory Devereaux has been living in Bristol under the close watch of her parents. So when her therapist suddenly suggests she return to Wexford, Rory jumps at the chance to get back to her friends. But Rory’s brush with the Ripper touched her more than she thought possible: she’s become a human terminus, with the power to eliminate ghosts on contact. She soon finds out that the Shades—the city’s secret ghost-fighting police—are responsible for her return. The Ripper may be gone, but now there is a string of new inexplicable deaths threatening London. Rory has evidence that the deaths are no coincidence. Something much more sinister is going on, and now she must convince the squad to listen to her before it’s too late.

In this follow-up to the Edgar Award-nominated THE NAME OF THE STAR, Maureen Johnson adds another layer of spectacularly gruesome details to the streets of London that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.

*May contain slight spoilers for the first book in the series*

To be honest, I didn't love the first book in this series, The Name of the Star. While I found the premise to be very interesting, I wasn't overjoyed with the execution. Regardless, I have enjoyed other books by the author and was curious enough by the cliffhanger in the first book to want to know what happens next to Rory and her friends. I found that I did enjoy this second book better than the first, but I'm still not in love with this series or the writing.

The Madness Underneath starts with the brutal murder of a pub manager a few days after the incidents from the first book and just a couple of blocks away. We then find ourselves in Bristol where Rory is recovering from her traumatic experience at her parents' house and seeing a therapist at their insistence. It isn't long, however, until the therapist suggests that the best thing for Rory is to go back to her London boarding school, Wexford, and try to get on with her life. There she is reunited with her best friend, Jazza, and the members of the 'ghost police', and her pseudo-boyfriend (who is pure vanilla and whose name I can't even remember).

Trying to adjust back into the swing of things proves incredibly difficult for Rory. She isn't doing well in school and is still having a hard time mentally dealing with the events of the first book. On top of that, one major difference in Rory now is that she herself is a terminus (a thing that kills ghosts) and because the mechanical ones that the ghost squad used to have are now gone. This makes Rory special and necessary. When a classmate gives her the name of her rich therapist who doesn't charge and who has agreed to see her, Rory decides to give her try. The action starts to build from there.

Again, I didn't love this book, but I did enjoy it more than the first. For one, I found this one to be a little more action-packed. Even though the first one was about Jack the Ripper (!) I never felt that edge-of-your-seat feeling with it. I liked that this one took place mostly away from the school--it was the scenes in both this book and the first that took place at the school or with the 'boyfriend' that were the most boring and ineffective. One of the biggest downfalls of this book is Rory herself. I seriously wanted to scream at her more than once for being such a clueless idiot.

And that ending. While the first book had a slight cliff-hanger, the book could easily stand on its own. The ending of The Madness Underneath is pure cliff-hanger. I'm not crazy about how it ended period, but I find it so annoying when series books end on notes like this when the next book won't come out for at least a year (and I read this a couple of months before its release so it will be even longer for me). That and I'll read at least 50 books between now and then which means I'll have to revisit this book just to remember what happened. Sorry, that's just a personal pet peeve.

All and all, The Madness Underneath was pretty good, but it wasn't spectacular. If you liked the first book, of course you'll read this one. If you like light paranormal YA, you'd probably enjoy this series. I'll definitely be picking up the final book and will continue to look for what Ms. Johnson puts out in the future.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*


  1. It's been a while since I've read The Name of the Star, but I really enjoyed it. I've been hesitant to start The Madness Underneath because I've read some reviews by people who didn't love it. I'm glad you liked it more than the first one, I hope I feel the same way! Great review!

    -Taylor @ Reading is the Thing

    1. I did like it better, but I didn't really like the first book and I have some pretty serious problems with this one (namely that she acts so stupid and that ending). I definitely plan on picking up what I'm assuming will be the third and final book, but this isn't my favorite series. I do hope you enjoy it if you do decide to pick it up. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. It's been so long since I read The Name of the Star...I honestly don't know if I'll pick this one up or not. A friend didn't enjoy this one as much, and seeing that you didn't love it, especially because of the MC, makes me less and less likely to give it a chance. Thanks for the honest review!

    1. You could probably jump into this one without having to go back to the first one...but, yeah, there are way better books out there. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I have both this one and the first book in the series waiting for me to pick up on my bookshelf. I didn't read your review except for the intro and last paragraph, I didn't want to spoil anything for myself :) I'm not sure how I'll end up liking the series. Thanks for reminding me I need to get to them eventually!

    1. I hope you like them once you do pick them up. I know a lot of people enjoy them quite a bit more than I do. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Bummer that you're not more engaged by this series ('cause it's awesome!). I love it, although I liked the first book better than the second. I can't wait to see what happens in the next one because of THAT ENDING - crazy cliffhanger!

    1. I wanted the first book to be scarier and I wanted for her to be smarter in the second book. Seriously, she made some really stupid decisions throughout this book that just had me shaking my head. And that ending pissed me off. I'll pick up the third book to see how it all ends. I'm glad you enjoy this series! Thanks for stopping by!


Hello, there! Thanks for taking the time to comment. I read each and every one and will do my best to respond--usually on your blog instead of on mine. I will, however, always answer direct questions. Due to serious time restraints, this blog is now an award free zone, but I appreciate the thought!