Feb 4, 2016

Review--The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

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. 

In this follow-up to the Edgar Award-nominated THE NAME OF THE STAR, Maureen Johnson adds another layer of spectacularly gruesome details to the streets of London that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.

After much delay, I’ve finally read Maureen Johnson’s The Madness Underneath! The best part about waiting this long, is that I can immediately pickup The Shadow Cabinet which I definitely need to get going on asap, because omg that ending!

Although, in truth, I kind of saw this ending coming. Based on past reviews and how it killed them and how they needed the next book asap…and this was all before the final book had its delay. I thought it would be wise to wait to binge the two. And naturally, since The Shadow Cabinet came out last year, I am just now getting around to reading them! I am really trying to finish those top ten series!

The Madness Underneath was a pretty slow read for the first ¾, which is a shame in some sense. It’s been ages since I read The Name of the Star, but other than that nagging, what happened last go around bit, I didn’t really have a hard time getting into the series again. It was just that it was so slow.

Rory is struggling to get over what happened to her. She nearly died when the Ripper stabbed her. But she survived and is on the mend. Her friends, Stephen, Callum, and Boo are gone. She has no clue where, as she was put into a new home away from school and everyone. Naturally, that doesn’t last long and soon Rory is back at school, struggling to catch up with her studies.

When she rejoins her trio of ghostbuster friends, they discover that Rory is now a sort of human terminus. Her touch can send ghosts away, just like the terminus used to do. And that was another bit I kind of forgotten about, how the terminus worked. But I guess because of its lack of appearance, it didn’t matter. And Rory was the new 2.0 version.

As I said the plot to this one was very slow. Rory does a lot of inner struggling and trying to get better. She starts to see a new therapist who seems to really get her and that makes her happy despite all the chaos in her life at the moment.

There was some mystery going on. Murders that look suspicious and a few ghosts along the way. Rory and her friends try to work together, but there does seem to be a divide going on between them. Rory knows her time in London may soon becoming to an end and she doesn’t really want to go back home.

The last quarter or so of the book is when things really get intense! New revelations come about that are quite shocking and then of course that whopper of an ending! Holy cow! I don’t know how everyone who read this book when it first came out managed to cope with that ending for so long! I am definitely looking forward to the next book!

Sadly, The Madness Underneath falls under middle book syndrome. It wasn’t the best of reads and dragged on for quite a bit, as little action really took place except for a moment here or there. The ending is what really saves the book, and not just that shocking ending. Things are being set into motion that I am sure will guide the final book on its course. I am really anxious to see how this series wraps up!

If you enjoy ghost books, I still highly recommend this series! The Name of the Star was creepy and awesome! While The Madness Underneath is definitely a middle read, it’s still necessary to read in the trilogy! But it’s also a rather quick read at just under 300 pages, so reading it was a breeze!

Overall Rating 3/5 stars



  1. Great review. I’ve wanted to read a Maureen Johnson book for so long. I follow her on Twitter, and she seems like an interesting person.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  2. a slow reading for 3/4 of the book is a long time to wait... I didn't know about the second book but I know I have (or I think I have) the first book in French. I need to try it

  3. I really liked the second book. I have read many did not. I enjoyed the struggle in Rory's head. The way she was contemplating it all and trying to deal with things. It read more like a realistic fiction for the first part of the book. Many didn't like that but i did. I think the last book will be back to the bones of it though.

  4. Thanks for the review and the info about the 3/4 slow--I'm not sure I would stick around for the end then.

  5. Sorry this one was a little slow, Jessica, but I'm glad you enjoyed it overall. Can't wait to see what you think of the next installment. :)

  6. I agree, there's definitely a benefit to waiting and being late to the party for certain series so you can binge read them! Too bad this suffered from middle book syndrome though, hopefully the next book is as strong as the first:)

  7. Great review, Jessica! Thanks! I still haven't read The Name of the Star, but I think I'm going to move it up on my TBR list. Sorry you didn't like this one as much as the first, but glad to hear you still recommend the series.

  8. I've never heard of this series, but it does sound interesting, if a little slow. I'm always on the hunt for books about ghosts, so this might need to be on my list! I think I'll wait for your review of book 3 to see if you like it more, though. Great review!

    Tracy @ Cornerfolds

  9. I think I'd enjoy this one. I'm always looking for that new little twist:)


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