Monday, April 29, 2013

Book Review: The Madness Underneath (Shades of London # 2) by Maureen Johnson

Title: The Madness Underneath (Shades of London #2)
Author: Maureen Johnson
Publisher: Harper Collins Childrens
Publishing Date: March 28th 2013
Length: 290 pages
Keywords: YA, fiction, London, crime, ghosts, romance, mystery
Source: Publisher

When madness stalks the streets of London, no one is safe…

There's a creepy new terror haunting modern-day London.
Fresh from defeating a Jack the Ripper killer, Rory must put her new-found hunting skills to the test before all hell breaks loose…

But enemies are not always who you expect them to be and crazy times call for crazy solutions. A thrilling teen mystery.

Summary by Goodreads


If you read my review of THE NAME OF THE STAR then it surely doesn't surprise you that I didn't want to wait a second to start its sequel right after turning the last page. From the beginning THE MADNESS UNDERNEATH sets a slightly different tone than THE NAME OF THE STAR. For instance this second part of Rory's story is not as gruesome and bloody as the Jack the Ripper muderer that had his claws terrifingly close around Rory's neck in the first book. 
With Rory uncovering the origin of new ghost occurrences around Wexford, a new kind of psychological tension slowly seeps into the story and through the cracks that once contained the restless patients of a psychiatric unit.

Rory is a character that I could easily imagine being friends with. She's very independent, got a great sense of humour, keeps on babbling about funny things that come to her mind and she's got a strong intuition for what is right and wrong.
I found myself enjoying and soaking up all the interesting little facts Rory researches in relation to the mysterious death in a bar near Wexford. The story wasn't as profoundly supported by such curious details as the first book's case which I guess has to be owed to the popular and widely discussed phenomenon that's immanent to Jack the Ripper.
Rory's life has not nearly returned to normal and she's still trying to deal with her newfound gift, a gift she was left with after a Ripper imitating ghost failed to kill her. But the ghosts are as present as ever and suddenly Rory is of high interest for the group behind the ghost hunting unit of our friends Stephen, Callum and Boo. Facing new missions and mysteries around all kinds of ghosts, the four grow together and form an unbeatable team. I also really appreciated and savoured the time Maureen reserved for Rory and Stephen to get to know each other better and learn to love the little quirks about the other. I rooted for Stephen since the middle of THE NAME OF THE STAR and was hoping for Rory to fall for him, so you can imagine the grin on my face every time these two got some quiet investigative time together.

Life would be too easy if we all could be just friends, so of course there is another group interested in Rory's talents. I wouldn't have minded if the story had countinued with ever new ghostly murder cases and no additional hostile group suddenly appearing and wanting Rory to join their cult.

I thought THE MADNESS UNDERNEATH didn't house as many surprising turns as its predecessor and I mostly guessed what was going to happen until I came to the last thirty pages or so...and the final chapters became a major mood killer! I was so ecstatic one moment, and royally pissed the other! Readers will probably be wondering, how Maureen Johnson could let happen something like that. Right now I can't think of a statisfiable outcome or solution to what we all had to witness!

At one point someone in THE MADNESS UNDERNEATH tells a story and Rory says that she feels like her absorption into the story was total. When she wrote this book Maureen Johnson surely knew that her stories had the very same effect on its readers. And as always the frequently asked question: Why do we have to wait another year for the next book in the series?

1) of a new batch of disturbed ghosts
2) of a punchy first scene
3) we just can't refuse to fall in love with this glum portrait of London
4) of being in bedrooms with boys
5) (love & hate I might add) of its very unforseeable and tormenting ending

4,5/5 ****/* THE MADNESS UNDERNEATH – A terrific and dazzling new shade of YA!

The new crime cases of this sequel might not have fascinated me as much as the original Jack the Ripper murders of THE NAME OF THE STAR, still I couldn't resist the psychologically strong pull of this new SHADES OF LONDON. I fear this series will continue to have me in its killer grip. And doesn't the third book, THE SHADOW CABINET, sound too spooky and nightmarishly good to be true?

* Watch out for THE SHADOW CABINET coming 2014!

* You might also be interested in reading Maureen's YA contemporary, 13 Little Blue Envelopes.

* Read an excerpt of THE MADNESS UNDERNEATH here

* You can find the book trailer here

* For further information about Maureen Johnson and her books visit

* Thanks to Harper Collins UK for sending me a copy of THE MADNESS UNDENEATH for review!


  1. I have seen the first book in this series but still haven't read it. i think I have it somewhere on my reader. I'm really glad that you enjoyed this one. i hope I'll start this series soon :)

  2. Loving your reviews for this series! It sounds unlike any other YA book I've read, so major bonus points for that!

  3. Rory sounds like a great character, and this overall sounds like a series I should check out.
    Brandi @ Blkosiner’s Book Blog