After reading and enjoying The Name of the Star last year, I was looking forward to, even if I wasn’t exactly highly anticipating, its sequel, The Madness Underneath. I figured it would be another procedural for Rory and the ghost-busting gang. When it started with a murder and Rory heading back to start school again at Wexford, I prepared for it. Well, I’m so happy that I’m wrong. The Madness Underneath is not another sequel but a continuation of the story set up in The Name of the Star. There are consequences to the events that happened in the first book, and now Rory is living with them in what starts out as a slow and mature, introspective story and turns into a heart-stopping emotional ride of sorts.
Rory is dealing with the mental repercussions of almost getting killed by a ghost. She can’t really talk to anyone about what happened because they’ll think she’s crazy. Being stuck in Bristol with her parents and far away from Stephen, Boo and Callum just makes her feel isolated and lonely. On top of that, she now realizes that she’s a human-terminus. Her touch can zap out ghosts. Finally, by surprise, her therapist convinces her parents to send Rory back to school and that it will help her confront what happened. Rory is excited to go back and have everything back to normal, and she becomes a little agitated and overwhelmed when going back to normal isn’t as easy she thought it would be. A recent murder happening near school catches her attention and causes her to team up once again with Stephen and the crew to figure out if ghosts are behind this. Some twists and turns lead them to a shocking and emotional ending that fans going all CAPS crazy at author Maureen Johnson on Twitter.
The pacing slows down in this book, but I think its pensive nature is pay-off for dealing with the slow moments. If you couldn’t tell already, it’s a different book than The Name of the Star. Sure, it has the same characters and lush, detailed setting, but it has a darker, more introspective tone. I feel that in so many ways this book is better than the first, just because of how unexpected it is.
I was only able to somewhat recommend the Shades of London series before, but now I can full out say: GO AND READ THIS SERIES. The Name of the Star is good thriller that leads to amazing sequel with The Madness Underneath. I have no clue what lies ahead in the next Shades of London book, but I’m both anticipating and dreading it, and a combination of the dread and anticipation is probably the biggest compliment coming from me.
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