Reviews: The Madness Underneath and The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson

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Shades of London Book 2: The Madness Underneath 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.

Shades of London Book 3: The Shadow Cabinet
The thrilling third installment to the Edgar-nominated, bestselling series.

Rory and her friends are reeling from a series of sudden and tragic events. While racked with grief, Rory tries to determine if she acted in time to save a member of the squad. If she did, how do you find a ghost? Also, Rory’s classmate Charlotte has been kidnapped by Jane and her nefarious organization. Evidence is uncovered of a forty-year-old cult, ten missing teenagers, and a likely mass murder. Everything indicates that Charlotte’s in danger, and it seems that something much bigger and much more terrible is coming.

Time is running out as Rory fights to find her friends and the ghost squad struggles to stop Jane from unleashing her spectral nightmare on the entire city. In the process, they’ll discover the existence of an organization that underpins London itself—and Rory will learn that someone she trusts has been keeping a tremendous secret.

I read the A.U.G. of Shades of London: The Madness Underneath two years ago after I picked it up at NYCC 2012. At NYCC in October I bought the published paperback of TMU and as a bonus was given the A.U.G. of The Shadow Cabinet. I reread The Madness Underneath because I had forgotten some details and I also wanted to compare it to the A.U.G. to see what was changed in the final print version.

I am so glad I read it again. I had remembered the important parts to the story, but I had forgotten the small details. I liked the realistic aspects that she would be failing school after being absent for so long and returning 2 weeks before finals, and her interactions with her boyfriend and friends.

I enjoyed it much more this time because the pacing was improved. The last few chapters were fleshed out, the details better explained, and events were more plausible. Though I did catch one mistake. A detail was changed on one page but the A.U.G. version was left on another.

The plot was split into two. The ghost mystery in the beginning was resolved pretty quickly, though the problem as a whole was not. The story then moves forward into a bigger story that becomes filled with ancient mysteries and a strange cult. But I feel it will all be wrapped up in the final book because of some events that happened in The Shadow Cabinet.

There is a huge cliffhanger that leads right into The Shadow Cabinet. Unlike the A.U.G. of Madness Underneath, this one felt very complete. The story does not slow down. Questions are answered but some new ones arise and new trouble too to be resolved in the fourth and final book. I also felt the consequences to the events were believable.

I liked the introduction of new characters. One new character in particular has already become a favorite. The new characters are great additions and in no way take away from the relationships developed in the first two books.

The Shadow Cabinet will be on sale February 10, 2015.

Favorite quotes:
Page 121 “You didn’t lose me. I went behind a bus and followed the reflection in a car window.”

Page 153 “I grew up surrounded by academics and researchers. I knew my myths before I knew all the incarnations of the Doctor.”

The Madness Underneath 4 out 5 haunted basements.
The Shadow Cabinet 4.5 out 5 stones.

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