The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson.


Book Two in the Shades of London series.

290 pages

Published February 26th 2013 by HarperCollinsChildren’sBooks

When we last saw Rory Deveaux, she had been (almost fatally) knifed by a ghost in her school bathroom. Also, she zapped another ghost into nothingness using her bare fingers – no terminus required.

Now, she’s left London and is staying with her parents in Bristol. She’s going to therapy and trying to get well enough (mentally/psychologically) to return to school in London. She misses her friends – both the school ones and the ghost fighting ones – and is struggling to come to terms with the fact that she is a human terminus.

But once Rory’s back at Wexford, it seems that there may be new enemies to threaten her. Some are murderous ghosts, but some are seemingly harmless. It isn’t until Rory lets her guard down that she realises just how deep in trouble she really is.

Bedlam breaks free . . .

I want to be honest: I was very disappointed by this book. Because I loved The Name of the Star so much, this was probably my most highly anticipated sequel of 2013. I was so keen to read about more of Rory’s adventures, but now having read the book I feel very flat. It’s not that The Madness Underneath is badly written, it’s just that there is not enough of a plot or maybe not enough of a fully formed one. It’s kind of like it’s made up of two halves of different plots. Honestly, I did enjoy the book as I was reading it – Rory’s still an awesome narrator, and there were some promising developments. But once I had finished, I thought to myself: I waited a year for that?! 

The first thing I noticed when I got my copy is that it’s so much shorter than it’s predecessor. This would be fine, except it ends with a hideous cliffhanger that totally deflated me. It didn’t make me want to go and look up every piece of information available about the third book, like I normally would. It was not one of those cliffhangers where you tear out your hair and shake your fists at the heavens and positively shake with anticipation for the next instalment, knowing that what you’ve just read is fleshy and amazing. It was a totally dissatisfying ending.

I wish that this had either been a) twice the length, therefore including more of the storyline that began right near the end, or b) a novella that simply covered Rory’s recovery and return to London.

Obviously Rory was always going to have to have some downtime – a ghost nearly killed her! That’s got to have some pretty serious repercussions. When she gets back to London, everything’s different, and this is where poor Jerome gets the raw end of the deal. Once again, I know that after a traumatic experience, your feelings about things from before will be different. All of this was necessary, but maybe it got in the way of a great story?

The more I think about that novella idea, the more I like it. It could have come out some months after The Name of the Star, paving the way for a more whole version of The Madness Underneath. Maybe you disagree, but I think it could have worked.

Anyway, now that I’ve talked this up so much, I’m sure everyone is just desperate to get their hands on a copy. Just don’t be like me – try to go in without too many expectations and you’ll probably enjoy it more.


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