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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I Mean, C'mon, What's Not to Love?

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

(Note:  Although this review will not contain spoilers for The Madness Underneath, it may inadvertently reveal plot surprises from its predecessor, The Name of the Star.  As always, I recommend reading books in a series in order.)

Ever since Rory Deveaux's explosive run-in with a ghostly Jack the Ripper-like killer, she's been kept in Bristol under the close watch of her parents.  She misses her friends in London desperately, especially her fellow Shades, with whom she could discuss the bizarre business of ghost-hunting.  No one in Bristol knows the truth about her.  No one can know.  Not her parents, not her therapist, no one.  Rory can't tell them that she sees ghosts and she especially can't tell them about her new-found ability to send apparitions away forever—all on her own.  Somehow, Rory has become a human terminus.  She carries inside her the very power the Shades need to eliminate London's malevolent spirit population.  The Shades need to know what's going on with Rory, but she's been told to keep quiet, not to contact her ghost-fighting colleagues.  Ironic, since she needs them now more than she ever has.  

When her therapist decides—seemingly out of the blue—that Rory needs to return to London in order to regain the control she's lost over her life, Rory's shocked.  And thrilled.  She needs the Shades and they need her, especially since there's a new killer in town.  Rory's convinced the grisly murders aren't what they seem, but the others aren't so sure.  Can she persuade the Shades to help her investigate before it's too late?  And, if it comes to that, will be able to use her new powers against another entity, no matter how sinister it might be?  As Rory struggles to understand herself and her place among the ghost hunters, she'll face her greatest challenges yet.  Maybe she'll even come out of them alive.

If you loved The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson (like I did), you'll love The Madness Underneath (available February 26, 2013).  Everything that drew me to the first book—humor, strong voice, appealing characters, etc.—continued to charm me in the second.  Rory's as lovable as ever.  Her new adventures, while not wholly original, still intrigue and entertain me.  Again, while there's some gore in the story, the novel's surprisingly clean.  If you're hesitating on this series (I was, thinking it would be dark and bloody), don't.  It's fun, engaging, and getting better with each book.  I mean, c'mon, what's not to love here?

(Readalikes:  The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson; it also reminds me of Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake)

Grade:  B

If this were a movie, it would be rated:  PG-13 for mild language (no F-bombs), violence/gore, and sexual innuendo

To the FTC, with love:  I received and ARC of The Madness Underneath from the generous folks at G.P. Putnam's Sons (a division of Penguin Young Readers Group).  Thank you!


  1. I still haven't read the first one. And I can not get over the cover of this book. It's so different than the first book. It throws me every time.

  2. I'm getting behind in the Maureen Johnson books! Man, stress!


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