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

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After reading and enjoying The Name of the Star last year, I was looking forward to, even if I wasn’t exactly highly anticipating, its sequel, The Madness Underneath. I figured it would be another procedural for Rory and the ghost-busting gang. When it started with a murder and Rory heading back to start school again at Wexford, I prepared for it. Well, I’m so happy that I’m wrong. The Madness Underneath is not another sequel but a continuation of the story set up in The Name of the Star. There are consequences to the events that happened in the first book, and now Rory is living with them in what starts out as a slow and mature, introspective story and turns into a heart-stopping emotional ride of sorts.

Rory is dealing with the mental repercussions of almost getting killed by a ghost. She can’t really talk to anyone about what happened because they’ll think she’s crazy. Being stuck in Bristol with her parents and far away from Stephen, Boo and Callum just makes her feel isolated and lonely. On top of that, she now realizes that she’s a human-terminus. Her touch can zap out ghosts. Finally, by surprise, her therapist convinces her parents to send Rory back to school and that it will help her confront what happened. Rory is excited to go back and have everything back to normal, and she becomes a little agitated and overwhelmed when going back to normal isn’t as easy she thought it would be. A recent murder happening near school catches her attention and causes her to team up once again with Stephen and the crew to figure out if ghosts are behind this. Some twists and turns lead them to a shocking and emotional ending that fans going all CAPS crazy at author Maureen Johnson on Twitter.

the madness underneath coverAs mentioned, this book completely took me by surprise. We delve deeper into Rory and the type of person she is. I feel like I got to know and understand her much better in this book than the previous one. While I always found her witty and likable, seeing a slightly darker and more emotional side of her was very revealing. The author does a fantastic job of delving into Rory’s character by making it interesting, especially in a book where not much happens and could easily be found boring. In addition, Rory’s interactions with others, especially Stephen, change. I wasn’t sure if I was onboard with this story and Rory when I began it, but after finally getting to really know her and experience this part of her journey, I am on board this ship to the very end.

The pacing slows down in this book, but I think its pensive nature is pay-off for dealing with the slow moments. If you couldn’t tell already, it’s a different book than The Name of the Star. Sure, it has the same characters and lush, detailed setting, but it has a darker, more introspective tone. I feel that in so many ways this book is better than the first, just because of how unexpected it is.

I was only able to somewhat recommend the Shades of London series before, but now I can full out say: GO AND READ THIS SERIES. The Name of the Star is good thriller that leads to amazing sequel with The Madness Underneath. I have no clue what lies ahead in the next Shades of London book, but I’m both anticipating and dreading it, and a combination of the dread and anticipation is probably the biggest compliment coming from me.

Rating: 9.5/10

The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson is now available wherever books are sold. Support The Young Folks and purchase the book at our TYF Store, powered by Amazon.

Book Info:

  • Publisher:  Putnam Juvenile (February 26, 2013)
  • Length: 304 pages (Hardcover)
  • Series:  Shades of London #2
  • Source: NetGalley
  • Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Ghosts, Thriller
  • Completed: February 2013

Gabrielle is 27 years old and lives in Chicago. She enjoys writing about film, TV, and books, but occasionally writes about music as well. In addition to writing for, she also the editor-in-chief and a co-founder. In her spare time, she’s either watching more movies and shows or reading more books, while continuously checking Twitter, which she may or may not be addicted to… Feel free to email her your thoughts, ideas and questions.