Parents' Guide to

The Madness Underneath: Shades of London, Book 2

By Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Cool main character holds together 2nd London mystery.

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Topping The Name of the Star was never going to be easy, and author Maureen Johnson didn't quite manage it here. Johnson tidied up the gory mystery almost too neatly: Jack the Ripper II, dead and gone for real. But she still had Rory, her hip and hilarious main character. And now she has a special skill as a ghost hunter no one else has. Getting her back to Wexford takes some therapy sessions and too many pages. Getting her on the trail of ghosts again is also slow-going, and once she gets a great lead (old asylum -- cool!) that storyline dries up. And Book 1's constant tension (will the Ripper get Rory?!) is replaced with the looming anxiety of exams Rory will never pass. Not quite the same ... Finally THE MADNESS UNDERNEATH takes on a totally new villain near the end, clearly to keep the series alive.

While it's too bad the asylum storyline didn't stand on its own, there's still no passing up the Shades of London series. Not with Rory as the main character and all the fascinating and macabre tidbits of London history. And the cliffhanger at the end guarantees that Book 3 will fly off the shelves.

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