Date of Publication: February 26 2013
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.
Although I wasn't the most enthusiastic fan of The Name of the Star, I was curious enough to read its sequel. The Madness Underneath was fascinating and fun to read. I liked it much more than its predecessor.
I don't know why but I started to truly like Rory in this book. In the first book I considered her bland. I don't think I was into any of the characters but that changed the second time around. Rory's personality shines through. She has so many quirks and has a background that has shaped her. It is cool to see a character constantly experiencing what is happening and making little comments on the surrounding world, just like I imagine most people do. I thought she was successfully written.
The other characters weren't terribly important. I got to know them on the surface and they definitely served a purpose. Johnson didn't go into too much detail, which was a little bit disappointing for me because I love reading about characters, but it wasn't all that necessary. Rory is vibrant enough to carry the story. I will say that I did care about the characters, but in the sense that they were entertaining and likable.
London is such a cool setting and having Rory be an outsider to Wexford (she's from America) means that Maureen Johnson can explain London in a different way. She can talk about the differences in culture and tradition and it's fascinating for both Rory and the reader. I'm not American, but I could connect with Rory as she reconciled the way things happened at home compared to in the UK.
The Madness Underneath was entertaining and there were many positives. The one kind of big element I didn't enjoy was the plot. See, the story is great to read. It draws you in with the mundane events taking place. Rory's personal drama is compelling, but that's not really what this book is about.
The series is about ghosts. Rory is now a terminus, the only one that now exists. This paranormal aspect to the story is so significant. It's the grand story arch. The author doesn't spend too much time on it so instead we get a book that doesn't feel satisfying. Almost nothing truly significant happens until the end and that's a little maddening since as soon as the story becomes good, it ends. This is something I hate in general, when books feel more like installments than individual stories, because it whets your appetite, then leaves you hanging.
That's probably the only issue I had. The Madness Underneath is a good summer book because it's entertaining and light. It's an easily digestible book except it will leave you wanting more. I'm impatient, especially considering the ending (I'm still a little shocked) so I give 3 hearts, for a book I liked.