The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson
Published: 28 March 2013 (HarperCollins Children's Books)
Book Depository: Paperback
Source: Borrowed from library
Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
When madness stalks the streets of London, no one is safe…
There's a creepy new terror haunting modern-day London.
Fresh from defeating a Jack the Ripper killer, Rory must put her new-found hunting skills to the test before all hell breaks loose…
I have to admit I was nervous about starting this book. I adored The Name of the Star and had read mixed things about The Madness Underneath. I'll start by saying I had nothing to worry about! The Madness Underneath picks up with Rory living in Bristol and attending therapy after her attack. Soon Rory ends up back at her old school, still dealing with the aftermath, and there are new murders happening.
I really loved this book. Straight away I fell back in love with Rory's voice as she narrates the story. Even though she's been through quite an ordeal, I still loved the wit and humour she brought to the story. I love reading her observations on British life which are just as funny in this book as they were in the first. I really felt for her throughout the book as she tries to get on with life again, particularly when she returns to school and finds herself falling hopelessly behind with her work. Perhaps that's because I have my own experiences of missing school and struggling to keep up, as well as the pressure it puts on friendships and relationships. I just thought that was really well done.
With the Ripper story seemingly concluded at the end of the last book I was wondering what the main plot was going to focus around this time, and I was so happy to see there were some new mysteries to get my teeth into! I really love crime fiction anyway so a book with a good mystery is always going to grab me. The mysterious murders happening suspiciously close to Rory's school took centre stage for The Madness Underneath, and I found myself completely engrossed in what was happening. Just when I thought I knew where it was going there'd be some new drama added into the mix. It really kept the plot moving and I was gripped the whole way through.
I particularly loved Rory's role in discovering just what was going on. She's found herself with extra powers after the attack which gives her a great sense of responsibility. I liked how she put together a lot of the bits of the mystery together herself as well. It showed her to be a strong, clever main character and I loved that about her. There were some new characters in this book to add to the action which kept the story feeling fresh. I won't give away too much but they were the kind of characters you're instantly suspicious of and you end up almost shouting at the page as you read because you can sense something bad is going to happen with them! I loved the return of the old familiar characters as well, especially Boo and Callum whose banter added a great dynamic.
I devoured this book in about the space of a day. It's under three-hundred pages so it's a pretty quick read anyway, but there's so much action and suspense crammed into the story for a short book. Like I said, I couldn't keep away from reviews before starting The Madness Underneath and I'd seen a lot of people say it was really bleak, but I didn't really find that. Yes, Rory has some issues she has to deal with but at the same time, she still has that great wit and charm, and manages to put her brains to the tasks at hand. The tone of the book didn't put me off at all. I couldn't find anything to fault this book.
The climax in particular was incredible. There's so much action in the last fifty pages and the ending had me absolutely jumping up and down in anticipation of the next book. I can't wait to find out what happens! If you liked The Name of the Star then I'd definitely recommend picking this book up as soon as possible.
What to read next: The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson, the 3rd book in the Shades of London series which is due out next year
Books like this: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare, Existence by Abbi Glines