Friday, November 29, 2013

Me on The Madness Underneath

Title: The Madness Underneath
Author: Maureen Johnson
Release Date: February 26, 2013
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile (Penguin imprint)

After her near-fatal run-in with the Jack the Ripper copycat, Rory Deveaux has been living in Bristol under the close watch of her parents. So when her therapist suddenly suggests she return to Wexford, Rory jumps at the chance to get back to her friends. But Rory's brush with the Ripper touched her more than she thought possible: she's become a human terminus, with the power to eliminate ghosts on contact. She soon finds out that the Shades, the city's secret ghost-fighting police, are responsible for her return. The Ripper may be gone, but now there is a string of new inexplicable deaths threatening London. Rory has evidence that the deaths are no coincidence. Something much more sinister is going on, and now she must convince the squad to listen to her before it's too late.

The Madness Underneath is what I've come to expect from Maureen Johnson in a good way. There's mystery, ghosts, murders, high school, teen romance confusion, and teen angst in general, and it all comes together in the best way. This book is back to Rory attempting to juggle all the part of her life, a life that sees London's ghostly past mixed with Rory's own odd and unique way of thinking. After being attacked by a ghost masquerading as Jack the Ripper, will returning to Wexford really be that easy?

Rory is quirky, eccentric, and sometimes just plain weird, but she's also curious and rather compelling. As I read this book I was fascinated with how Rory saw events play out, with her point of view. She's an intriguing kind of heroine for a ghostly murder mystery, seeing the world from a different angle. Sometimes it's like she's looking at it from the side, and it's clear that she'll be the one to decide what she'll do next as opposed to someone else. She's back to her school and her complicated possible thing with Jerome, back to her ghostly adventures with her team of Stephen, Callum, and Boo, and she's back to helping people. I think that's the biggest or at least the most important part of her personality. For all her weird stories and eccentricities, all Rory wants to do is help people with whatever problem they have. It's just unfortunate that it leans more toward the paranormal and death-centric side of things.

But it's not just Rory or Stephen or Jerome or the rest of the characters, it's also the setting that makes this book. The haunting streets and basements of London. The book is set right in the heart of hundreds of years of history, of war and bloodshed. Taking into account all those who've died in London since it was first settled, there are bound to be more than a few ghosts wandering around, and there are bound to be some angry and resentful ones. Will this be the time for Rory to put her new ability into action?

There's a definite mix of Rory's real/school like and her new dangerous ghost life. It's so interesting, watching them twist and twine around each other, how when they finally do intersect one will complicate the other in impossible ways. Rory now has to find a way to balance these two lives of hers, but it doesn't look like it's going to be easy.

This is Rory's return to where it all began, but what's to come? What's next for her? And will she be able to cope? She's part-dealing with the aftermath of old danger and part-walking into some new danger. One of the bigger changes for Rory now is her new ability, the one that goes beyond just seeing ghosts, but is that all there is now? Just ghost searching and stopping the evil ones from hurting innocent people? Or is there something more out there, more that she realized? I knew going in that the ending would be shocking and it was, even if I'd already guessed what it could be, but that doesn't mean I wasn't left yelling at the book once I was done, wondering when the next one will be out.

(I own a finished copy of this book.)


  1. I totally love this series! I wish I had the next book like... pronto. With reading so many books I find it's difficult to remember them all, or keep them straight, but I will never have an issue with this series. The characters, the plot, the setting, and that freaking ending (!!) all come together to form something truly awesome.

  2. I love this series as well. It's so atmospheric and intriguing, but also funny and enjoyable. Can't wait for the next book!