Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

Rory Deveaux is back in this second book in the Shades of London series. This review may contain some spoilers to the first book, so I suggest that if you are in the mood for a compelling supernatural mystery you check out the Edgar Award-nominated The Name of the Star instead and read no further here.

Following the harrowing events of the first book, Rory has been living in Bristol with her parents, who are worried for her and are constantly hovering solicitously nearby. When her therapist suggests that she return to London, to the scene of the Jack the Ripper copycat murders that she was so perilously involved in, Rory is delighted - despite the horrific things that happened at Wexford, she misses the boarding school and the good friends that she made there - not to mention the members of the Shades, London's secret group of supernatural police specialists.

Rory finds that school is difficult; she cannot focus, as she's constantly suffering flashbacks from the previous year. A string of strange murders is happening in the city, and she just knows they are somehow related to ghosts, but the Shades are not convinced. Rory soon finds herself a dangerous position as she tries to determine the truth behind the killings.

I love Rory, her strength and wit and determination. The first part of the book unwinds slowly, as Rory truly is suffering from PTSD, and I was glad to see that her experience was not brushed airily aside as she moved on to fearlessly confront more scary things - she came across as a teenager who had survived a terrible event as was, with the help of her family, therapist and friends, learning to come to terms with it. I enjoy reading about strong female characters (and recommending books featuring them to teens - and others - at my library), but I become annoyed with the unrealistic super female that appears all too often - the beautiful, tall, witty, butt-kicking martial arts expert who is always on top of things, never makes mistakes (unless the plot requires it) and is unfazed by any and all danger. Rory is a realistic heroine, funny and strong, fallible, learns from her mistakes, and has a good heart. I can't wait for the next book in this wonderful series.

Books in the Shades of London Series:
1. The Name of the Star
2. The Madness Underneath

The Madness Underneath (#2 in the Shades of London series) by Maureen Johnson (G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2013)

Also by Maureen Johnson:
Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes

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