The Madness Underneath is the second installment in Maureen Johnson’s Shades of London series. 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 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.
The book starts a little bit slowly. When Rory returns to Wexford Academy she realizes that she has changed too much because of her run-in with the Ripper to be able to really connect with her friends at school. She seems to feel disconnected from everyone, including her best friend Jazza and her boyfriend Jerome, and she cannot make her mind focus on her schoolwork because all her brain can think about is what has happened to her. The book spends a little too much time having Rory deny to herself that she can’t have the same relationships with all of the people she cares about at Wexford. The story starts to pick up the pace when Rory, because of her lackluster grades, is told that she cannot be allowed to continue at Wexford. From then on out (and I don’t want to spoil anything) the book’s plot moves so fast that I found that I could not turn the pages fast enough to find out what happens next. This book was much darker than the first due to Rory feeling like she needs to push the limits of her new-found powers. The book ends in sort of a cliff-hanger and I cannot wait for the third book!