Engaging, Thrilling and Completely Underrated | Review: The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

10:00 AM

Seriously, how is the Shades of London series SO FREAKING GOOD? I'm hooked. I'm seriously hooked.

The Madness Underneath
by Maureen Johnson 

After her near-fatal run-in with the Jack the Ripper copycat, Rory Deveaux 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.

The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

“There is no normal. I've never met a normal person. The concept is flawed. It implies that there is only one way people are supposed to be, and that can't possible be true. Human experience is far too varied.”

Not to be dramatic, but rereading this series as a refresher during our stay at home order may be the best decision I've ever made. Shades of London is officially in my all time favourites list and I'm just completely in awe and captivated by the stories Maureen Johnson tells. It goes without saying that, in my opinion, The Madness Underneath is one of the best sequels to any series.

And I'm kind of an absolute mess right now.

These characters, this magic, the haunting mysteries and the hypnotic way everything unfolds? Chefs. Kiss. I'M OBSESSED. Completely. 

Let's rewind a bit. If you expected to breathe easy during this novel, you clearly didn't read the same series as I did. I'm still a bit breathless from it all. The Madness Underneath follows on the heels of The Name of the Star quite quickly. In the aftermath of having defeated the ghostly copy-cat Jack the Ripper, Rory is now trying to move forward with her life.

It isn't easy, given the scars she now carries physically and emotionally.

As if surviving a murderous ghost (I do love saying that) wasn't complicated enough, the powers she began to develop in The Name of the Star seem to be taking a new path. Now, withdrawn from her school, and in therapy, Rory finds herself isolated from her new friends and questioning what her powers really are. As she begins to explore this, and seek out her friends, more and more things become blurry.

With every answer comes a new question. Soon, Rory is falling behind in many spots of her life. But maybe, just maybe, she has so much more to gain and lose than she'd previously thought. With that comes new complications, relationships and enemies. Every page brings forth something new and it makes the story all the more addictive.

So, yes, The Madness Underneath is just as captivating as The Name of the Star. Perhaps moreso, as the central mystery begins to form into the bigger picture. Johnson continues to bend genres as she develops these characters and builds onto their magical, dark, and foggy world. Not only is The Madness Underneath beautifully written, it's highly entertaining and impossible to put down.

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