Title: The Madness Underneath (Shades of London #2)
Author: Maureen Johnson
2013 – YA – Supernatural Thriller
The Story: In the aftermath of the Ripper events at her school, Rory’s parents remove her from classes and insist that she move into their flat in Bristol. But isolation and therapy only make her feel worse, so she convinces everyone that she should return to Wexford and finish the term. However, she’s so far behind that she has no chance of passing her exams, plus a new crop of mysterious murders in the area plunge her into a series of events even more dangerous than before.
The Opening Line: Charlie Strong liked his customers – you don’t run a pub for twenty-one years if you don’t like your customers – but there was something about the quiet in the morning that pleased him to no end.
What I Loved: Rory and her friends are good, quirky characters, and I loved seeing their friendship dynamics. Once again, I liked the thrill of trying to solve the mystery. I also enjoyed Rory’s new ability and her struggle with using it.
What I Didn’t Love: I definitely didn’t enjoy this as much as the first novel. Some of the supernatural thrill is gone because you already know that Rory has a new ability, that the secret Shades exist, that ghosts can kill. Overall, it felt more disorganized. Multiple murders, a seedy connection to Bedlam, a weird cult. There just wasn’t the cohesiveness that the first novel had. Also, can you say bad decisions much? Rory is just plain stupid here. She makes no attempts to catch up or prepare for exams, ignores her instincts that tell her something about her new therapist is off, and continually sneaks off campus, breaking about a million rules. Grr, Rory. Grr.
Final Thoughts: Like I said before, this is a reread in preparation for the third Shades of London book, releasing later this month. I’m super excited, but I hope it picks up and is a strong entry into the series. Loose ties from this novel are just bothering the heck out of me, so I hope Johnson can draw them all together into a cohesive conclusion.