**Warning! If you haven’t read The Name of the Star which is the first book in Shades of London series by Maureen Johnson, there will be spoilers ahead. You can read my review of the first book instead if you haven’t started the series yet!**
The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson is the second book in The Shades of London series and it picks up shortly afterThe Name of the Star ends, with our heroine, Rory Devereaux, recovering from the events of the Jack the Ripper-like serial killer from the first installment. She’s living with her parents, having not been able to return to school, and all of her communication with her ghost police friends has been cut off. Unfortunuately, I think The Madness Underneath suffered from second book slump syndrome but there were still some redeeming elements, especially toward the latter half of the book.
Rory is left with a huge scar and many trust issues while she’s cooped up in her parents apartment. She can never talk openly with anyone about what actually transpired in the bathroom at Wexford and the few friends / colleagues she can trust, she’s had no contact with and no idea of how to get in touch with them should she want to. Early on, Rory makes the very brave decision of returning to school and instead of wallowing in self pity, she finds herself empowered by her past. She sets out to find a purpose for herself and she willingly puts herself in new and similarly dangerous situations. She opens herself up to a new therapist who seems too good to be true and she reconnects with some familiar faces. The Madness Underneath is a discovery period for Rory. She’s transitioning into her new life and coming to terms with who and what she is now.
A big reason why I did not enjoy this installment as much as the first is because there was a lot less action and a lot more internal monologue. This also means there is a lot less of the story dedicated to the supporting characters. I wanted to know more about Boo, Jazza and Alistair. I never warmed up to Rory’s boyfriend Jerome and I very much disliked the ending in regard to Stephen. It was unexpected to see the relationship form between Rory and Stephen and while I suppose it makes sense on some level, I had a hard time believing them together. It seems more like a choice based on limited options. My friend Cassie lent me the ARC of The Madness Underneath so I could read the original ending which was changed prior to being published and I liked it a lot more than the ending the publisher chose to use.
Final Thoughts: The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson is a disappointing follow up to The Name of the Star. It suffers from second book slump syndrome and while it’s not completely unejoyable, it just did not live up to the excitement of the first book. I will be continuing on with the story because there are some redeeming qualities and I feel invested enough in the characters that I want to see it through but I am not as eager to pick up the third installment as I had anticipated.
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. (via Goodreads)