Book Review: The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

Title: The Madness Underneath (Shades of London #2)
Author: Maureen Johnson
Genre: YA/urban fantasy
Date Read:
15/02/2016 – 16/02/2016
Rating: ★★★


After finishing The Name of the Star, the first book in the Shades of London series, I immediately went to the library to pick up the next book. While this one certainly isn’t as strong as the first, I still found it a really enjoyable read.

After dealing with a direct attack on her life, Rory is in therapy and her parents are incredibly protective, but she wants to go back to Wexford. She can’t talk to anyone about her experiences, and would rather just get on with things. Eventually she gets her way, but she’s falling behind at work, not really sure how much she actually likes her boyfriend, and really wishes she could figure out what to do with her new-found ghost-extermination ability.

Maureen Johnson has a really engaging writing style, which is probably lucky, because it meant that it took me 150 pages to realise that nothing really happens in this book, and even then, I still wanted to keep reading it. It was more like a whole book of world-building, I guess, with only some slight character development for the already existing characters and the introduction of some new ones.

Usually when I write reviews I do a paragraph on the world-building and a paragraph on characters, but there’s really not much to say here that I didn’t already say in my review of The Name of the Star on Friday. We really get little else about Rory or the other central characters, and the final chunk really seemed to be just setting up for the third book. Rory makes some really poor choices at times, though I can see why a person in her position may think they seemed like good ideas at the time. I really disagreed with a choice she made right at the end, though that choice in particular leads to events that are going to be important in the third book.

Having said that, these are fun characters to be around, and enough did happen to make a book (though only just). I’m now onto the third one, and I’m hoping it will pick up again.


Book Review: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

Title: The Name of the Star (Shades of London #1)
Author: Maureen Johnson
Genre: YA/urban fantasy
Date Read:
10/02/2016 – 12/02/2016
Rating: ★★★★


After following Maureen Johnson on Twitter for something like three years, one of her books seemed the obvious choice for the “a book by an author you feel you should have read by now” item on my 2016 Reading Challenge. While this book wasn’t entirely what I expected, I did end up enjoying it and went straight to the library to pick up the second one afterward.

Born and raised in New Orleans, Rory Deveaux moves to England with her parents, and starts attending boarding school in London while her parents lecture at Bristol University. The same day as she arrives, the population of London is equally horrified and fascinated by a murder that mimics very closely the first murder of Jack the Ripper back in 1888. After several more murders and the city being on lock-down, Rory sees a man at the murder-site that no one else can. And that’s when things begin to get really weird.

I really enjoyed the combination of Rory adjusting to a new school combined with the reaction to the Rippermania. Johnson depicts the public’s macabre fascination with these types of events really well. While Rory is somewhere in the middle, her friends range from those who love the facts about the original case and are using it predict what will happen this time around, to others who find the whole thing sickening.

While it is fairly clear from the blurb that the story would involve ghosts, I was a little bit surprised about where it went with this plot. I don’t want to give away anything, but I will say I was a bit disappointed when the Jack the Ripper murders ended up being more of a means to the killer’s end rather than especially relevant.

Overall, a fun, quick read with some scary moments that made me get up and pull the blinds closed. Recommended for urban fantasy fans.