Review: The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson.

Published on February 26, 2013.
Published by Putnam Juvenile.
Source: Won ARC from Razorbill Canada. Thank you!

Goodreads Blurb:
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. 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.

My Review:

I was really looking forward to this one after enjoying The Name of the Star when I read it last year. I have to say, I had mixed feelings about it. I can basically split these feelings along the halves of the book.

The first half:
I hate to say it, but... *snore*. This half of the novel moved very slowly, wasn't all that exciting, and really was just a great example of the second-book slump. Rory goes back to school. Tries to re-adjust. Falls behind and feels left out. Etcetera. Nothing especially stimulating. She also seems to go back on so many things from the last novel, which is somewhat confusing. Plus she goes around and ruins things left and right, which made me frustrated with her. I just felt like nothing was accomplished in the first half. Yes, there was a "ghost mystery" but it was done and over with quickly and didn't seem to contribute all that much. And her ghost-busting pals; Stephen, Boo, and Callum... they were there but it didn't really feel like it. I missed them the way they were in The Name of the Star. So that was kind of disappointing, because they can be great characters, they just... weren't. Also, I tended to get a little annoyed by Rory's complete inability to do anything useful for basically the entire first half. That's probably why I felt so bored.

The second half:
This is where the novel really picked up and got interesting. This is where I had trouble putting the book down. This is where I finally started to care about the characters again. There was mystery and there were some shady characters that you're never really sure of. There was suspense and really bad situations that had me saying "No Rory! Don't! What are you thinking?" And then, at the end, there was THE THING. I can't spoil it because that would be awful of me but trust me, it's a big deal. Things started going my way and I was happy and thought "okay, it can end there, I'm all right with that." Then BAM! I didn't see it coming and honestly, it kind of hurt. In that bad-but-good bookish way. But it was a huge factor in amping up my interest for the next novel, especially after the slow beginning to this one, so that's a bonus!

I am happy to say that the latter half of the novel was enough to interest me in reading the next book, so good job, Maureen! I also have to mention that I definitely saw a lot of Maureen in this novel. Her quirk and somewhat off-beat humour were very present and while that was so much fun, it occasionally brought me out of the story because I was reminded so much of the author. Still enjoyable to read, though!
3 stars.


  1. Ooh, I haven't heard that much from this book. Though slow beginnings really don't call to me. But the first book was definitely a pretty good read and I'm still curious about this one. I won't be diving into it with high expectations now though. That would make me hate it.
    Great review! :)

    1. The first one was definitely good, and I did think this was enjoyable, so I would recommend reading it if you liked the first one. It just didn't impress me as much as I hoped, especially in the beginning.

  2. I have this one sitting on my shelf! I need to read it next! I can't wait! I know I won't actually read it next, but soon! I'm glad that you liked it! Even if it wasn't as good as the first one, which I LOVED!

    1. I really enjoyed the first one too. I think the second half lived up to it, at least, so that's good! I hope you enjoy it too :)

  3. I've heard some mixed reviews on this book which is kind of disappointing since I loved the first one so much. Hopefully this one won't be a big letdown. Thanks for the review :)

    1. I think if you loved the first one then the first half of this will be a bit of a letdown but the second half won't be. Hopefully you enjoy the whole thing though :)


I'd love to hear what you think!