The Madness Underneath – Maureen Johnson


Author: Maureen Johnson

Rating: 4/5

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After her near-fatal run-in with the Jack the Ripper copycat, Rory Devereaux 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.


This story immediately follows the hangeron’s from book one, where Rory’s encounter with the `Jack the Ripper’ copycat in book 1 sent her back to Bristol with her parents, recovering. She’s seeing a therapist multiple times a week, even though she can’t really tell Julia anything about what happened without being tossed into a white padded room.

Rory’s discovery that she seems to now be a human Terminus means that she knows she has to go back to London and get on with her life, all while harboring her secret. Rory finds herself concentrating less on her studies, and more on finding out about these mysterious cracks about London that appeared the night that she nearly died in a bathroom at Wexford, courtesy of the Ripper.

I LOVED The Name of the Star. The Ripper stuff just excites me. However, the reason I give this book 4 stars rather than 5, as opposed to the first, is because there really wasn’t much going on. This book acts almost like a filler or a set-up, rather than a full, complete, novel. The prologue, which usually demonstrates a killer ghost that sets up the entire book, is solved before half of the book is even over, in the span of two pages. There were many unresolved answers and even more questions, and the end, oh the end – felt like it was slapped there as a means of a cliffhanger to get us to read whatever comes next and to incite a reaction.

I, for one, love secondary characters. Jazza, Boo, Callum, Stephen, where were those guys? You get mentions but there aren’t there a significant portion of the time, just background noise this time. Rather than focusing on murders plaguing London, we are left to our own devices reading about Rory’s adjustment back at school after the horrific event of what happened in book one. How she is very behind in her schoolwork but does nothing about it is a focus of the story- and how she is dealing with the idea of being a terminus. Really, with all the worrying about school and doing nothing about it, this book could be called “What Happens When You Stop Doing Course Work”

Overall, The Madness Underneath was good. It just wasn’t as good as it’s predecessor. Maureen has a great way of describing her locations in a way that make the reader feel like they are living the scenes and Rory telling wacky stories of her family back home. I’m looking forward to the next book, and I have high hopes for it.

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